UPDATE: In accordance with the provincial health orders imposed on Jan. 7, the January performances will be postponed or cancelled.
Tri-City residents are still looking for ways to connect and be entertained during the pandemic, says the executive director of Coquitlam’s Evergreen Cultural Centre.
Last month, the organization under Philip Hartwick rolled out its second Speakeasy series of the season, a program that allows for socially distance live performances.
Single show tickets won’t be sold; rather, to adhere to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s orders, tables of two or four people — small enough for a “bubble” — will be available.
Hartwick told the Tri-City News that of the 13 performances in the spring series, four are reschedules from last season, when the lockdown took effect last November: Vitaly, the Bergmann Duo, Kellie Haines and Blue Moon Marquee.
“I’m hopeful by May we will be able to resume our operations and get back to normal,” Hartwick said, noting the Pinetree Way facility won’t be making a profit. Until then, “We are looking at this [programming] as a service-delivery initiative.”
Luckily, the spring line-up is local talent so performers won't be travelling far, he said:
• Jan. 16: Vitaly: An Evening of Wonders (shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.)
• Jan. 23: Joelle Rabu and Nico Rhodes: Piaf and More! (shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.)
• Jan. 30: Forev Circus (shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.)
• Feb. 6: Dawn Pemberton with Gavin Youngash (shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.)
• Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day with Ken Lavigne (shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.)
• Feb. 20: Will’s Jams: Rocks and Roots! (shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.)
• Feb. 24: The Bergmann Duo: Pictures at an Exchange (shows at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.)
• Feb. 27: SANSEI: The Storyteller (shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.)
• March 6 and 7: The Comic Strippers: Fully Clothed! (shows at 7:30 p.m.)
• March 20: Monster Theatre’s Juliet: A Revenge Comedy (shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.)
• March 27: Kellie Haines: A Birdie Told Me So (shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.)
• April 25: Zodiac Trio (shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.)
• May 2: Blue Moon Marquee (shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m.)
As well, Evergreen will present two events in its Swing Sessions, which were co-curated by Valentina Montilla, the centre’s youth engagement and performing arts assistant. The R&B Afro-Soul Night with Nigerian-born singer Sadé Awele takes place March 25 while the Afro-Latin and Indigenous Rhythms event is on April 15.
Evergreen can seat up to 50 patrons in the Studio Theatre, in their “bubbles.”
Hartwick said last fall’s Speakeasy series was well attended despite the measures, and audience members enjoyed the cabaret-style format with small tables draped in black cloth and lighting switched to Edison bulbs to create a Roaring ‘20s feel.
Performance-goers were requested to wear masks unless seated, and travel around the building in one-way directions. Hand sanitizers were also provided at the door.
Still, adjusting to COVID protocols has been Hartwick’s biggest challenge since he took over the top job last April — just after the spring break lockdown took effect.
While the Art Gallery at Evergreen was able to reopen last June, the centre’s in-person educational and performance components were pared down or cancelled.
Some content went out via social media but “online doesn’t replace live events,” Hartwick said, noting free creative kits that were supplemented with online resources were also distributed to the public, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Hartwick said patrons were also generous last year when shows and activities had to be nixed: Evergreen took in $20,000 alone in donations from refunded tickets.
“The support that we have received has been overwhelming from the public and the city,” Hartwick said, adding, “I’m very excited about the upcoming season.”
• Tables for two range from $36 to $70, depending on the show, while tables for four are between $60 and $125. Call the Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam) at 604-927-6555 or visit evergreenculturalcentre.ca.