Some great names have played the Cowichan Theatre (now the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre) in the past 40 years. (Submitted)

Some great names have played the Cowichan Theatre (now the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre) in the past 40 years. (Submitted)

From introducing k.d. lang to honouring Gordon Lightfoot, Cowichan Theatre has had busy 40 years

40-year retrospective has offered theatregoers a glimpse of Cowichan’s entertainment history

Cowichan Performing Arts Centre has celebrated 40 years of performing arts in Cowichan with a poster retrospective.

During the month of November, the Centre lobby featured show posters and photographs commemorating its 40th anniversary with a historical gallery display.

In November 1978, the Cowichan Community Centre opened it doors. The building included an ice rink, gymnasium, library and a 731-seat theatre, that to this day, has the largest stage on Vancouver Island.

The first performance held at the Cowichan Theatre (now known as the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre) was on February 9, 1979, and from that day forward, it continued to serve as a community theatre for local groups and had some of the biggest names in music, theatre, dance, comedy and film from around the world.

The exhibition has featured show posters from Sarah McLachlan, Diana Krall, Dizzy Gillespie and Mo Kauffman, to Gordon Lightfoot, The Barenaked Ladies, Buffy Sainte Marie, The Nylons, k.d. lang, Mr. Dressup, Margie Gillis, Fred Penner, Bekkanko Oni from Tokyo, Front Page Challenge, The Vinyl Café and so much more!

Assistant Technical Director Dave Barton was one of the first employees of the Cowichan Theatre and is still working there today.

When asked what he remembers about those days as he wandered through the gallery, he said, “The Cowichan Theatre was one of the first places kd lang played…it was back when she was still doing cow punk,” he reminisced. “We’ve had some of the greats pass through here; some who are no longer with us like Rita MacNeil. What can I say about Rita…she was just so nice! And Stuart McLean from The Vinyl Café, we all miss Stuart. Doug and the Slugs was such a fun band, we all had a great time working that show. Rest in Peace, Doug Bennett.”

Another long-time employee Archie Byatt remembers fondly the very first performance at the theatre.

“Back then we had a covered entrance at the front of the building. All of the ushers were dressed in blue blazers and they were greeting the patrons as they arrived and escorting them upstairs to the performance. It was very sophisticated.”



lexi.bainas@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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