Take a bow Park The­atre Café de­serves a round of ap­plause

SundayXtra - - LOCAL NEWS -

IN two weeks, I will be pre­sent­ing the fifth an­nual J. P. Hoe Hoe Hoe Hol­i­day Show at the Park The­atre Café. This will be the 20th time I have stepped on its stage and I couldn’t feel more at home.

In a nut­shell, the Park com­bines charm, in­ti­macy, and pro­fes­sion­al­ism and adds so much to this city. It’s more than a cof­fee shop, it’s more than a venue, it’s more than a com­mu­nity meet­ing place. I’m not go­ing to wax po­etic, but the Park has filled an im­por­tant gap that has been missing for some time and, more im­por­tantly, has en­er­gized the lo­cal arts scene.

Lo­cated on South Os­borne Street sur­rounded by trendy restau­rants and lounges, the 225-seat the­atre should take a por­tion of the credit for the re­vi­tal­iza­tion in the Fort Rouge neigh­bour­hood. Among ag­ing bou­tiques and apart­ments that oc­cupy the old build­ings that line the iconic street, The Park came to life and be­gan to draw folks off their couches and out of their liv­ing rooms.

Erick and Melanie Cas­sel­man ( the own­ers) saw po­ten­tial in some­thing ig­nored. The same po­ten­tial oth­ers have talked about re­gard­ing sim­i­lar the­atres but that has never been re­al­ized. The same po­ten­tial some peo­ple feel about our fair city but then are re­solved to do noth­ing. The Park, though, has suc­ceeded.

I found the Park when it first opened as a movie the­atre. I was pre­par­ing to record a live al­bum and I wanted a unique venue. The old movie the­atre/ corner store was hardly the ideal choice for a live show: no sound sys­tem, no lights, no tech, no ex­pe­ri­ence with con­certs. Thanks to many good friends and the Park’s ad­ven­tur­ous at­ti­tude, the record­ings proved to be an ex­hil­a­rat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and fruit­ful en­deav­our. That was five years ago. Since then, the Park has re­ceived nu­mer­ous facelifts and up­grades, in­clud­ing the ad­di­tion of a house sound man ex­traor­di­naire, El­liot, and a steady sta­ble of en­thu­si­as­tic em­ploy­ees. New sound­boards, lights, and a two-storey back­stage com­ple­ment the changes. They’ve ex­ited the mod­est movie-rental ex­per­i­ment and are ex­pand­ing to the on­line ticket-sell­ing busi­ness. Things have changed. Mu­sic and per­for­mance are now the sta­ple at the Park. Prac­ti­cally ev­ery night you can sam­ple a na­tional tour­ing act, a buzzing lo­cal artist or an in­de­pen­dent the­atre troupe. Things are good.

So many times I’ve heard “ the cream rises to the top,” but in my ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s less com­mon than we all think. The Park, though, has done ev­ery­thing it could to en­cour­age ev­ery­one’s suc­cess. Putting on a show at the Park is no longer work. It’s plan­ning a show with friends while find­ing the bal­ance be­tween art and com­merce; a bal­ance shrink­ing in our world.

The Park doesn’t de­serve a round of ap­plause be­cause they’ve been kind to me and my mu­si­cal fam­ily. In­stead, they de­serve a round of ap­plause be­cause they put their money where their mouth is. They saw po­ten­tial and they fol­lowed through. They filled a cul­tural gap and then some.

Take no­tice, Win­nipeg. Let’s har­ness our po­ten­tial. Let’s prove the naysay­ers across the coun­try wrong. We do have some­thing spe­cial here, but risks need to be taken so re­wards be­come abun­dant. Just look at the Park.

Thank you, Park The­atre, you’ve done good.

28, 2010 esho p. coffe usta hanj oret éism eCaf heatr arkT TheP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.