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The show must go on: God of Carnage to continue despite theatre closing

Supporters, actors and theatre students gather during a vigil outside the Vancouver Playhouse on the closing night in Vancouver on Saturday, March 10, 2012. The federal government says it won't bail out the landmark theatre.

Rafal Gerszak/rafal gerszak The Globe and Mail

The abrupt closure of the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company this month put the rest of the season's offerings in question, including God of Carnage, which was to close out the season on the mainstage. On Wednesday, Vancouver Civic Theatres announced the show will go on: God of Carnage will be presented, as scheduled, April 14 to May 5 at the city-owned Playhouse Theatre.

"We're stepping in basically because there were a bunch of tickets sold and we don't want to see those audience members left in the dark," says Civic Theatres Director Rae Ackerman. "From my point of view it's about the show must go on."

The play is a co-production with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, where it's currently on the stage. Under the deal hammered out over the last two weeks, Vancouver Civic Theatres takes on the role as presenter (as opposed to co-producer). Mr. Ackerman wasn't willing to reveal the details of the agreement, but said "if ticket sales do really, really, really well, then Manitoba Theatre Centre will get more of the preproduction costs returned to them."

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While the show's cast and crew was aware that a deal was in the works, they were given the official news before Wednesday's matinee in Winnipeg.

"It was emotional," says actor John Cassini, who is based in Vancouver. "It was a tremendous relief, but it was also very emotional, because I know what it means for the theatre to not just suddenly just be dark. And at least this breathes a little life in it and we can continue the discussion of what to do while there is a show playing at this beautiful theatre. It just feels a little more optimistic."

The Exquisite Hour, which was supposed to be presented as part of the Playhouse's Recital Hall series beginning April 20, will run at the Arts Club Theatre's Revue Stage in May instead. Co-producer Jessie van Rijn says her company, Relephant Theatre, received a call from the Arts Club offering them the same arrangement they had with the Playhouse, which includes production support. "It was awesome," she says. "It was one of those happy dance moments, right after the phone call."

The production was pushed back – a blessing at this late date – and will now run May 1 to May 12. The fact that the Revue Stage is a traditional theatre space means there's no need to set up risers and lighting – a cost saving because it eliminates the need to hire technicians to do the work.

Jay Brazeau's The Cat Came Back, scheduled to begin this weekend, has been cancelled. Instead, Fred Penner and Friends (one of those friends is Mr. Brazeau) will hit the stage for two family-friendly shows at the Playhouse on Saturday.

In each case, tickets purchased through the Playhouse Theatre Company will be honoured.

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About the Author
Western Arts Correspondent

Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. More

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