EAST MARGARETSVILLE, NS - Before the expansion was made to Evergreen Theatre, entertainers loved it for its great acoustics and almost spiritual vibe that had great musicians coming back time and again to play at the little 110-seater.
“It has been a long time coming, for sure,” said theatre manager David O’Leary to a crowd gathered July 15 for the little venue’s grand re-opening July 15. “But we’re here, we’ve arrived. We’re much more of a real theatre nowadays, so we’ve got lots of plans.”
Evergreen goes back to 1999 when a small community group called Fundy Folk started putting on shows. They became known across the province for a great folk experience and eventually Evergreen Theatre evolved from those humble beginnings.
After about four years of designing, raising funds, and writing grant applications, the theatre has re-opened. The result? The acoustics are still superb and the vibe is better than ever as the new space offers up lots more potential.
O’Leary is even talking about community theatre.
The addition is modern in design with steel siding -- all angles and glass. What they’ve lost is the outhouse and what they’ve gained is five gender-neutral washrooms and a greenroom for entertainers. Plus there is a small lobby where food and drink is available.
The original theatre, an old church, was not changed in any way except where it connects to the new part.
O’Leary thanks the board of directors, including chair Betty Fraser, for their efforts over the past few years. “It wouldn’t have happened without all their work.”
He also thanked the federal government for Canada Heritage and ACOA funds and a New Horizons grant. Nova Scotia’s Communities, Culture and Heritage ministry also provided funds and Minister Leo Glavine was present at the grand re-opening July 15.
“We always have been supported by local business,” said O’Leary and noted that many individuals have also donated. “We have a few dollars we have to pay off, so keep it coming,” he said.
The project cost about $230,000.
He also thanked the Parsons Family and Mid-Valley Construction. Mid-Valley built the addition.
“They just made us an offer that we can’t refuse,” said O’Leary. “Originally we were going to put a nice big deck out there, but we had to cut it off the budget because we were running short. So it just disappeared for a while. Well, the Parson Family and Mid-Valley Construction have just offered to build us a deck as their donation to the cause.”
“Now that we’ve had so much private and public funds put into this place we really feel we should be moving on with giving back a bit more,” said O’Leary. “At this point we only have three shows a month, so there’s a lot of downtime here. So we’re looking for all kinds of things to use this new asset to our community.”
He said it’s already happening.
“There’s a big drum circle here every month. Some musicians are using it as a rehearsal space,” O’Leary said. “We’re thinking about – just thinking – about a homegrown theatre company. Watch for that. We’ll be putting that out pretty soon. And also we’re thinking possibly of an alternate series of performances focusing on local people. Right now we’re very professional here. We pay big bucks for people to come here and we have to charge unfortunately somewhat big bucks for the tickets.”
He said it’s always been the dream to open it up to entertainment from the local community for less cost and lower ticket prices. “We’re working on that too.”
He said the sky’s the limit.
“We’ve had a few weddings in here, you name it. It’s a great place for meetings,” he said. “We’d like you to come up with things we can do here. Just tell us and we’ll try to make it happen.”
“I’ve got to thank you and your group for making it possible,” said John MacDonald, Annapolis County councilor for the district. Annapolis County chipped in $20,000 towards the addition. “You have this facility and this thing that’s been going on for years and years -- you made it easy for us to support you.”
He gave kudos to volunteers who run the theatre of which he’s a patron. “I’d just like to say thanks for all you do,” said MacDonald.