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.
“It’s been a very intense year,” says John Hudson.
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.
“It needed to go.”
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.
“The roof used to leak. So, we’d have water coming in,” says Stewart.
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.
The first show is on June 2.