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Edmonton-born actor Nathan Fillion raising funds for Varscona Theatre overhaul

WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton-born actor has launched an online campaign to help the Varscona Theatre, which helped him get his start. Online producer Caley Ramsay has the details. 

EDMONTON — How would you like to fly to L.A with a friend and have lunch with Nathan Fillion? The Edmonton-born-and-raised actor is giving the chance to anyone who helps him support the massive renovations currently underway at the city’s Varscona Theatre in Old Strathcona.

“There are many places I can say I got my start. This is probably the first place I got my start,” says Fillion in a video promoting the cause.

One winner and one guest will win a trip to have lunch with the actor. The prize includes airfare from anywhere in the world, and two nights in a hotel. Anyone over the age of 13 can enter, but if the winner is under 18 their guest must be an adult.

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Fillion wants to give back to the actor-run theatre where he got his start back in the early 1990s. “Actors like myself can be accepted in a very tight-knit community, that are very welcoming of new actors, new talents.

“Boy, they made life easy and wonderful for me,” he says.

Fillion, 44, grew up in Edmonton, attended the University of Alberta and was part of Rapid Fire Theatre at the Varscona.

The Varscona Theatre in Edmonton, as seen from Google Streetview.
The Varscona Theatre in Edmonton, as seen from Google Streetview. Screencap from Google

Built as a fire hall in 1956, the building on 83rd Avenue between Calgary Trail and Gateway Boulevard was repurposed as a theatre in 1982. It was ground zero for the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival. The Fringe is now the biggest of its kind in North America.

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But the years have not been kind to the aging theatre, which operates at 90 per cent capacity year-round. Renovations are underway to modernize the building and control room, add more seating and a second performance or rehearsal space. Construction began this spring, and is expected to be finished in spring 2016.

The theatre is fundraising the last $1.1 million needed for the re-build.

The Castle star is holding a fundraiser on Prizeo, which works with celebrities to create once-in-a-lifetime experiences. In addition to the grand prize draw, those who donate amounts over $100 have a chance to receive thank-you gifts such as signed photos and posters, a Twitter shout out and even a signed ‘pretty floral bonnet’ — a costume piece from Firefly, one of Fillion’s previous shows.

bonnet

Past Prizeo winners have spent the day in Montreal with band UR, had lunch at the Playboy Mansion with actress Pamela Anderson, played table tennis backstage with singer Ed Sheeran and gone on a helicopter ride with Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin. Some celebrities, like Sheeran and retired Canadian basketball player Steve Nash, have hosted more than one fundraiser.

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For more details on the theatre’s rebuild, click here. To donate to the cause and be entered for the grand prize, click here.