After a successful season — it’s 14th — Kimberley Summer Theatre is heading off in a new direction, under the guidance of new Executive Director Tony James.
The company is evolving into a year-round venture, and won’t just produce professional plays and musicals, but concerts and dance performances.
A name change has already occurred. Kimberley Summer Theater is now the Kootenay Performing Arts Company, with a box office in the Platzl on Spokane Street.
Its first project will be Classical Enchantment, which will bring Grammy-winning violinist Pablo Diemecke, ballet dancer Sarah Murphy-Dyson and other special guests to a gala at the Kimberley Conference Centre on September 28.
“It’s a rebrand,” James said. “We’ve had conversations over the winter and just threw out the idea of having more than just a summer season. Summer theatre has proven to be successful and the has been embraced by both residents and visitors. The mandate of the company has not changed, we will just present more productions throughout the year.”
James says the vision is first and foremost to honour the legacy of the board who built Summer Theatre over the past 14 years.
“It’s really imperative that the public recognize the contribution that these past board members have given to arts and culture in Kimberley. It’s truly outstanding.
“Now the torch is passing. Many of the board members are retiring and I will be recruiting new board members. The former board members built this company from start to now.
“We are not taking away summer theatre, but we will begin our first season in September and produce a project every six weeks.”
The company will continue to operate out of the Platzl location that served as the Summer Theatre box office this year, a concept that worked exceptionally well, James says, giving the company a visibility it didn’t have before.
Eventually the front half of the space will be for the box office and administration and the back a rehearsal space, green room, costume studio.
Productions will take place at various venues around town, from the smaller, intimate theatre at Centre 64 to the more expansive McKim Theatre to the Conference Centre for gala evenings like the upcoming Classical Enchantment.
“I’m in here for the long run,” James said. “Part of the vision is to contribute to the vitality of Kimberley. Residents should embrace this. It’s a gift to them. We can bring world class artists to this region. There is no reason we shouldn’t enjoy professional, quality productions all year long.
“Classical Enchantment is a major fundraiser for the company— it is the launch of the new company. I think it shows our versatility to go from the adult comedy of Self Help, to the family show, the Wizard, to something like this. This show will indicate what kind of quality people can expect from this company.”
Classical Enchantment will include the gala evening and also an opportunity for local violinists and ballet dancers to learn from the best. Pablo Diemeck will offer a masters class in the violin and Sarah Murphy-Dyson will teach a masters ballet class. The event will also include an auction.
James, most recently from the coast, has 30 years in theatre and has the contacts to continue to be able to bring in this type of quality production.
He says there are different markets for different seasons, so with a little community support, Kootenay Performing Arts Company should be able to make it.
“I like this area and the people. They have been incredibly gracious to me. I’ve signed on for a year and we’ll announced our full season next week. The response has been overwhelmingly positive so far. This is our moment. We’re professional, we’re high quality, we’re ready and we’re capable. We have a base we believe will support us.
“We want to reach out to the community, build relationships. We want to hear from people. WE hope they will recognize us as a part of their lives. No matter what time of year there will be something to do. It will help area businesses and restaurants. It’s a win, win, win, win, win situation.
“There’s a revitalization and rejuvenation going on in Kimberley right now. This is the time, this is the moment. We ask the public to seize it with us.”