Entertainment

Kelowna Community theatre remembers opening night, 1962

Exactly 50 years after the Kelowna Community Theatre first opened its doors, local artists, community organizations and residents came together at a special Golden Anniversary Showcase to celebrate this milestone and honour those who contributed to the theatre’s expansion and success.

“From the very start, the Kelowna Community Theatre has been a home for the performing arts and a place where the community comes together,” said Sandra Kochan, Cultural Services Manager.

“Over the span of five decades, the presence of this cultural hub has helped launch arts careers and has provided entertainment to several generations of patrons. It’s amazing to think about how many people have passed through the theatre doors over that time.”

The Showcase, hosted by Robert Fine, featured classic and contemporary performances by Ballet Kelowna, the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, the Theatre Kelowna Society, Wentworth Music, Dance City Academy, the Kelowna City Band and local jazz singer Anna Jacyszyn. Soprano Alexandra Babbel also reprised some of the songs performed by opera star Teresa Stratas on opening night, Sept. 13, 1962.

On that evening 50 years ago, a ceremonial fanfare by the Kelowna City Band welcomed guests to the official opening ceremony, where D. A. Chapman, Chairman of the Community Theatre Committee, presented the key to Mayor R.F. Parkinson. Back then, the theatre had no formal seating and guests sat on lawn chairs or blankets during performances. Today, it is one of the busiest theatres in British Columbia, with more than 450 performances each year.

“I am very excited to launch our 50th anniversary season,” said Theatre Manager Randy Zahara.

“For 50 years, we’ve been bringing Kelowna residents, visitors and artists together and producing wonderful masterpieces on our stage. This season, we are happy to present the work of amazing and influential artists like Fernando Varela, Michelle Wright, and Sarah Slean. We’ve also got some annual favourites like Ballet Kelowna’s Christmas production of The Nutcracker. It’s going to be an unforgettable year for the theatre.”

A Facebook event page dedicated to the theatre’s 50th anniversary has been created. Kelowna residents past and present are invited to share their stories about the theatre. Stories, photographs and other theatre memorabilia can also be sent directly to the Kelowna Community Theatre located at 1375 Water Street or can be emailed to rzahara@kelowna.ca.

Visit kelowna.ca/theatre for more information or to sign up for theatre events listings delivered directly to your email inbox through the theatre’s e-Subscribe servic

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