Theatre suffering from growing pains

Griping and gossip are as much a part of the theatre as dropped lines at dress rehearsal and stage fright on opening night. Theatre Lac Brome is no exception.

The summer season of 2017 seemed especially prone to carping within the Knowlton community and beyond. Patrons criticized the program, saying it was too serious, or too fluffy, for summer stock. They complained about too much French entertainment, or too much English.

They decried a lack of local creative input, local content, local performers and local troupes. They offered dire opinions about why the popular Fall Fling fund raiser was cancelled. In the blanket critique of the past program, there was as much drama in the small town air as anywhere near the stage.

In a piece filed to the Tempo website, longtime theatre Artistic Director Nicolas Pynes attempts to address the issues. He writes of two winters of renovation, “overhauling infrastructure, electricity, plumbing and ventilation, and the construction of a modern and dynamic lobby,” allowing the arts in Knowlton to enter “a new era….” What remains to be determined is how to balance programming, appealing to the expanding audiences interested in music and French language theatre with the English language programming that is traditionally the principle activity of the theatre.”

In a separate email sent from London, England, where he is trying to vacation, Pynes admits he will “never satisfy the entire community.” He says the 2017 season did not meet all his hopes and expectations, either, but he has learned to “be modest” in those expectations. He paraphrased comic Larry David, who asked how can anyone in the First World complain? “We are trying to provide an opportunity for everyone.”

Because this was the first season with the new lobby, the few events held there were something of a trial run. He promised many more all year long, and incoming Artistic Administrator Philippe Mercier has already hit the ground at a crisp trot with his confirmations for the late fall and winter musical line-up.

During a recent phone call the veteran artist manager and concert promoter announced bluesman Harry Manx will play Dec. 8. Juno- winning jazz singer Emilie-Claire Barlow is set for the next night.

He emphasized community input as the venerable Knowlton Players take the stage for eight performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in November, and stagings of the holiday favourite The Nutcracker with L’Ecole de ballet Sutton, Dec. 16 and 17.

To this list Mercier also added Quebec singer-songwriter Kevin Parent, Feb. 24, France D’Amour, March 31, the legendary Montreal rocker Michel Pagliaro, May 5, and the incredibly talented, Gregory Charles, June 2.

Oh, and the Fall Fling? It’s not cancelled, just postponed for scheduling reasons. Expect it to take place sometime in the com- ing months, when Mercier promises a fundraiser “better than ever.”