The cast of Avenue Q

Something for everyone in 2014-15 Blue Circle Series

Mark Allan

Special to the Record

While other theatres are booking bigger, more expensive acts, the Comox Valley’s foremost performance venue focuses on the needs of its community.

“We’re everybody’s hometown theatre, so we’re trying to be affordable, we’re trying to have something that appeals to everyone and we’re trying to bring in something new,” explains Sid Williams Theatre general manager Deb Renz.

Besides operating and renting to various user groups, the Sid Williams Theatre Society is also a presenter, notes Renz.

To distinguish its offerings from local and out-of-town people who rent the 500-seat performing arts facility in downtown Courtenay, the SWTS created the Blue Circle Series.

The society, which has existed for 14 years, puts a lot of thought into each season, says Renz. Part of the reason for that is a broad mandate.

“We don’t just program music,” she explains. “We program music, we program dance, we program spoken word, we program live theatre.

“We’ve got all that and more in this season,” Renz adds about a lineup that includes all of the above genres plus comedy, films and children’s entertainment.

The 2014-15 Blue Circle Series opens Sept. 19 with Vancouver bands The Matinee and Good For Grapes. It ends May 8 with Canadian slam poet Brendan McLeod and the Fugitives.

Acts in between include the Arts Club Theatre Company’s production of Broadway hit Avenue Q, Black Umfolosi from Zimbabwe, Sarah Hagen’s Mattina Musica classical music series, Ballet Victoria, Radical Reels and the Comic Strippers.

Renz says programmers take demographics into account.

“The main demographic for the majority of events is seniors, and then the next one is (baby) boomers.”

Presenters renting the theatre that cater to youth include Rainbow Youth Theatre, CYMC (Comox Valley Youth Music Centre) and local dance studios.

“There’s a huge amount of programming in the theatre already,” notes Renz. “We’re trying to catch that 18-to-25, 18-to-30 group that doesn’t come to the theatre a whole lot yet.”

Accordingly, several Blue Circle double bills this season will feature more than one musical act aimed at a younger demographic.

At a time when the price of everything — including entertainment — keeps rising, the Sid has been forced to raise ticket prices in the past few years.

“This season, we’ve actually dropped quite a few of our ticket prices,” Renz reveals. “The lowest price is always connected with a volume buy. If you go in the lobby you’ll see tons of posters that say, “Ask us about four or more.’

“Individuals or organizations or businesses that want to do a group buy … there’s also a lowest-price option for that.



See SID, Page B2


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