If you are a fan of theatre and music you received some good news Friday. If you are not, well, this one might make you change you tune.
Summerside’s Harbourfront Theatre announced Friday that Stompin’ Tom is back, at least in spirit. Starting this summer the downtown theatre will play host to “The Ballad of Stompin’ Tom.”
The popular musical production about the life of P.E.I.’s adopted singing son will have a new home on the theatre’s main stage for 2014. Catherine O’Brien, Harbourfront Theatre artistic director, will direct the production and the much-anticipated opening night will be June 28.
Kieran Keller, general manager of the theatre, says it will be the biggest show the theatre has ever done. But the positive news for lovers of the arts does not stop there. Keller told the assembled crowd that the production would be the first in a new annual festival that the theatre hopes to grow into the future.
To help ensure success, Harbourfront Theatre is getting funding from ACOA’s Business Development Program ($130,000) and the P.E.I. 2014 fund ($30,000), to help bring in the show for the big sesquicentennial year. The funding is being used buy new equipment and secure the rights to the show.
This is all good news in the here and now, but not to be overlooked in this announcement is the theatre’s future plans.
The fact that the theatre is ready to again start hosting bigger shows is wonderful news for both the arts community and the city as a whole.
This tentatively called Summerside Theatre Festival has much potential.
While ‘Stompin Tom’ is only here for a year, Keller said the hope is to bring back a show of similar caliber every summer.
All this comes after more than three years of working to stabilize the theatre’s finances and completing major renovations to the lobby and roof. With these critical elements behind them, theatre brass now believes they are ready to expand their reach again.
The theatre had previously been home to the popular “Anne & Gilbert,” but two years ago the two sides (theatre and show producer) failed to comes to terms on an agreement and the show moved to Charlottetown.
The Summerside theatre replaced it with productions of “Nunsense” and “Forever Plaid,” both very well received.
It was their popularity that Keller said proves Summerside can be a base for theatre, we hope he’s right and we hope Harbourfront continues to live up to the bill.