Unexpected treat; those are two words Johann Zeitsman, President and CEO of the newly branded Arts Commons, has said he feels are applicable to the beautifully transformed EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts, and what it will bring to Calgary. After having attended their first major production, Theatre Calgary’s Dear Johnny Deere, the BOOM team would have to agree.
Formerly known as the EPCOR Centre for the Performing Arts, Arts Commons isn’t just a new name; on top of continuing to function as a wildly popular performing arts venue, the space will now play host to a new Teatro ran restaurant, concierges, a new café, pop up galleries, and many more opportunities for Calgarians to interact with performing and visual art.
Theatre Calgary, which has called the centre home since 1985 when they became the resident company, is no doubt thrilled to invite the community back into the fresh space for a year filled with new productions, the first of which is this season’s afore-mentioned smash, Dear Johnny Deere. In a press conference early last week, Zeitsmann said that, “Arts Commons is clearly an open gathering space for the community to gather and breathe together and share thoughts and be stimulated and be inspired by each other.” This atmosphere was reflected wonderfully in Dear Johnny Deere, a heart-warming musical comedy directed by Eric Coates that takes a look at the small-town trials and tribulations of a family struggling to keep their farm and marriage afloat.
With singer-songwriter Fred Eaglesmith’s award-winning soundtrack at work, the play required performers whose musical chops could keep up with their acting prowess. Fortunately, leading lady Rebecca Auerbach and leading gentleman J.D. Nicholsen didn’t disappoint, delighting the audience with soulful harmonies and playful, lyrical interpretations that complimented the play’s progression with natural fluidity. Congratulations are also due to Jason Hand, head of lighting design, for a superb job- the BOOM team was floored by the general excellence of production, but lighting in particular stood out; dappled wooden beams with creamy, early-morning sun peeking through the gaps set the stage perfectly as the story unfolded.
An unexpected treat indeed, Arts Commons and Theatre Calgary’s major production exceeded our already-high expectations. The BOOM team was delighted to be invited to this debut and looks forward to seeing Arts Commons continue to stimulate and inspire Calgary in years to come.