Friday, 20 June 2014

The Homburg Theatre Re-Opens at the Confederation Centre of the Arts

In my humble opinion, the Confederation Centre of the Arts is a gem among our Island's cultural offerings and a true haven for artistic talent from across Canada. For 50 Years, the Centre has been host to all generations, bringing life, laughter and delight, most of all through their theatrical productions. To those of us from PEI and fans of the Charlottetown Festival, there was a much anticipated event which took place on June 16th. The Grand Re-Opening of the Homburg Theatre, which was celebrated with an Address by His Excellency the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston and a Welcoming Show, all open to the public.

An impressive amount of excited Islanders showed up for this event, honoring the wonderful effort made by the Confederation Centre in revamping and renewing the Homburg Theatre. The anticipation was palpable as everyone gathered together to watch the ribbon cutting which as you can see in the picture below was held by an absolutely adorable group of Pre-Kindergarten students. Before the main event a few small speeches were given in which the Governor General not only made a point of praising the Confederation Centre but also slipped in a few funnies to keep everyone laughing.

With the Governor General of Canada. our own Premier Robert Ghiz and Lieutenant Governor the Honorable H. Frank Lewis, CEO of the Confederation Centre Jessie Inman and a host of Provincial Lieutenant Governors and Territorial Commissioners present this was a truly dignified opening which really exuded the sense of how very important the Centre's contribution to the arts is, not only on PEI but throughout Canada. To me, it was a show of solidarity through our Country that honored the contribution the Centre has made through the past fifty years and the great things that are expected for it in the future.

And after the ribbon was cut, everyone buzzed with eagerness to finally enter the new theatre pavilion and get a first hand experience and our new pride and joy! Walking in you could sense the freshness of the area, the soft glow of pre-show lighting accentuated the new and aesthetically pleasing acoustic wall panels and crisp looking ceiling. Just from the feverishly happy talk that resonated through the space, you could tell the acoustics were great, of course later on the cast of Canada Rocks was going to prove that theory in a very harmonious and entertaining way.

But before "Canada Rocks" could take the stage, we were treated to a speech from Premier Robert Ghiz who expressed his own personal love for the Centre and how it had already excited the imagination of his family. It was heartfelt and open dialogue which praised the Centre and the incredible talent that has passed through it's theatre for 50 years. Afterwards, Jessie Inman received an award for the grand efforts it took to bring Evangaline to the stage last year for the Charlottetown Festival. Giving a brief history on how the epic poem was brought to the realm of musicals, Ms. Inman spoke passionately of the crew's dedication to authentically representing this pivotal piece of Canadian literature. She also delivered exciting news that the production team for Evangaline is working to bring this stirring program to the bright lights of Broadway. One of the first steps being taken a professional original cast recording of the deliciously beautiful soundtrack which will be available soon on ITunes and at the Confederation Centre.

Then the Governor General took the stage. He was eloquent and expressed the importance and connection of the Centre to our celebration of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference. It was a pleasure to sit and listen to his inspiring words and see how open and encouraging his was to the arts community. I would have liked to sit and transcribe in address, but honestly, it was too fascinating to focus on anything but his words. I've never personally seen or heard the Governor General speak, but he was all I could have expected and more. I speak for myself and many other patrons that were in the Homburg Theatre at that time when I say he was a reflection of the dedication that went into refreshing and re-creating this beloved theatre.

Of course, in grand Island tradition, no celebration would be complete without music and the talented cast of Canada Rocks was a great choice to demonstrate how apt the theatre's acoustics are! They were, no pun intended, rockin' the house! There wasn't a person in the theatre that wasn't electrified by their vivacious and powerful performance which displayed a portion of the over 74 songs that are featured throughout the full musical. This taste of Canada Rocks was more than enough to make me want to check it out and I suggest you do too, if you like a good time. Which of course, everyone likes a good time!

Later, everyone gathered in the lobby for coffee, cake and more importantly discussing how impressed they were with the updated theatre. If you were there, you already know that it's high time to go and check out a show and if not, take it from me and start booking your tickets for the Charlottetown Festival now; they're bound to go fast!

Here's to another 50 Years, Confederation Centre of the Arts, I'm with you all the way!

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