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Curtain to soon rise on new Varscona Theatre in Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Take a tour inside Edmonton’s new Varscona Theatre, to open in June' Take a tour inside Edmonton’s new Varscona Theatre, to open in June
WATCH ABOVE: The curtain will soon rise on the Varscona Theatre in Old Strathcona. You might call it a production 12 years in the making. Vinesh Pratap took a tour inside – Apr 15, 2016

EDMONTON – It’s been a dream more than 10 years in the making, and soon the new Varscona Theatre will opens its doors.

“Well, we’re pretty exhausted actually,” explained John Hudson, the executive director of Varscona Theatre.

Hudson and other staff were on hand Friday as keys were handed over for the new space.

There’s still work to do; the theatre seats still have to go in, for example. But the $7.5 million rebuild is on track. It started as an idea to simply expand the lobby.

“But then as we began to investigate the building more, the building we were in was really at the end of its life cycle,” says Hudson after Global News was given a tour of the facility.

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

The Varscona Theatre moved into the old building in 1996. It was converted from an old fire hall into a theatre space in the early 80s.

The old building was torn down last June, and amazingly, less than one year later the new building will be ready.

“They said it couldn’t be done,” says Davina Stewart with the Varscona Theatre. “But some said it could be and I’m pleased that it could be.”

Not everything was torn down. Three brick walls stood standing, incorporating the old with the new.

There’s a new, expanded lobby and backstage spaces have been upgraded to include washroom and shower amenities.

“Warm dressing rooms that have heat and there’s light,” says Stewart.

The old Varscona saw about 300 performances a year, bringing 30,000 people through the doors. The new space is expected to be even busier.

“We really felt our old building was a detriment to attracting new people because it was not very nice,” says Hudson.

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The first show is on June 2.

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A look at the construction on Edmonton's Varscona Theatre Friday, April 15, 2016. Vinesh Pratap, Global News
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A look at the construction on Edmonton's Varscona Theatre Friday, April 15, 2016. Vinesh Pratap, Global News
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A look at the construction on Edmonton's Varscona Theatre Friday, April 15, 2016. Vinesh Pratap, Global News
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A look at the construction on Edmonton's Varscona Theatre Friday, April 15, 2016. Vinesh Pratap, Global News
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A look at the construction on Edmonton's Varscona Theatre Friday, April 15, 2016. Vinesh Pratap, Global News
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A look at the construction on Edmonton's Varscona Theatre Friday, April 15, 2016. Vinesh Pratap, Global News
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A look at the construction on Edmonton's Varscona Theatre Friday, April 15, 2016. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

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