If the new $850,000 Theatre Lac-Brome extension faced Knowlton’s main drag, it would cause a sensation. Instead, the sleek modernist space designed by Montreal firm FABG is a hidden gem, its clean glass and wood facade flanking the original building’s west side on Mt. Echo Rd.
It is at once the most important architectural addition to the local landscape in ages, and a thoroughly practical expression of civic generosity, and our Federal tax dollars at work, all $280,000 of them.
Understandably, theatre artistic director Nicholas Pynes and President Hélène Jalbert are overjoyed with the results. During a recent walkabout of the soaring 1800 sq. ft. room, Jalbert declared herself speechless. Pynes, the de facto project manager during last winter’s construction had rather more to say.
“I applied for a government grant in February of 2016. I heard back that Canada was interested in supporting English, off-Montreal island culture for the country’s 150th anniversary. We broke ground last October but had no confirmation until December 23.” The money finally landed at the end of February, and Pynes was able to breath again.
“I see it as a cultural anchor of the community, with potential as a multi-function space. We plan on developing year-round programming here.”
The extension is connected to the old theatre, but not of it. There is a flexible green room space with its own bathroom for actors, bathrooms for theatre patrons, a revamped box office, a bar, and piano for post-play drinks and entertainment.
Vast sliding doors lead to a covered stone terrace, with another large opening on the theatre side for easy access to seating, and mid-play leg-stretching. Pynes envisions cabaret in the new volume. He sees wedding receptions, concerts, conferences, office parties and meetings like the Town of Brome Lake press event, June 7, to unveil the 2017 tourist season.
And he sees years of dreaming, planning, fund raising and grant applications made manifest. As the finishing touches are applied, he is an exhausted and very happy man.
Now for programming. Pynes described “a series of bilingual theatre, musical events from classical to pop, a play for the whole family, something for everyone.” The concept has proved a winner, and he is not going to mess with it.
Classical tenor Marc Hervieux opens the season, June 3. Bowser & Blue wrap it up Sept 2. The hugely popular Knowlton Home and Garden Tour is July 12. For all other events go to theatrelacbrome.ca. The box office number is 450-242-2270.