© Journal Pioneer file photo
SUMMERSIDE – Summerside’s Harbourfront Theatre is ready to start hosting bigger shows, insists its executive director.
With the other big announcement on Friday, namely that the theatre will host its biggest show ever in 2014, Kieran Keller also dropped the news that the theatre is planning on developing a yearly event.
They’re tentatively calling it the Summerside Theatre Festival.
Keller said that while they’re keeping many of the details private for now, there are announcements coming that should please the artistic community.
“The Ballad of Stompin’ Tom,” will be the first show of the new festival, with opening night on June 28.
That show has only been confirmed for one year, but Keller said that the hope is to bring back a show of similar caliber every summer.
“Coming out the festival’s inaugural season, we will determine the festival’s form and its future based on its returns and the quality of the theatrical products available to us in the future,” said Keller.
“Everyone has always expected that Harbourfront Theatre is putting something on in the summer, but I think in the past it’s not been … it has been unclear. Now, we have a little more direction, clear lines of what we want to do and what we want to say,” he said.
They are able to do this now, he added, because this year marks a turning point for the theatre.
After more than three years of working to stabilize the theatre’s finances and completing major renovations to the lobby and roof, he feels they are finally in a position to expand their reach again.
The theatre had previously been the home of “Anne & Gilbert,” which was a popular draw in the summer months, however, that show moved to Charlottetown two years ago.
The theatre replaced it with local productions of “Nunsense” and “Forever Plaid.”
Those shows didn’t have the same big name draw as “Anne & Gilbert,” but they proved popular, said Keller.
It is the popularity of those shows that proves Summerside can be a base for theatre, he said.