Theatre in Home Stretch
Ray Martin, Times Staff
December 27, 2010
It’s taken longer than anticipated, but officials with Drayton Theatre say they are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with their Cambridge project.
“It’s been a long process to do all the due diligence, but we want to make sure we do this right. We’re now in the home stretch,” said Drayton Entertainment’s artistic director Alex Mustakas.
Plans for the new 500-seat theatre, along with production and administration facilities, are now in the final design stages and should be complete by late January, when Drayton will be making a presentation to Cambridge council.
“Our plans are now to break ground and be open in June 2012,” he said. “It will be mid-season, but it’s the best we can do.”
Drayton Entertainment operates six theatres across the province. It’s theatres in Drayton, Grand Bend and Penetanguishene are operated on a seasonal basis. The St. Jacobs Playhouse Theatre and new Cambridge theatre will operate year round.
Mustakas said there will be few dark nights for the Cambridge theatre once it opens, as it will not only present Drayton productions, but will be heavily used by community groups.
In designing the new theatre, Mustakas said a number of compromises had to be made to squeeze everything onto the site at the corner of St. Andrews Street and Grand Avenue, however he is happy with the end result.
“This is a great thing for the city and for us,” he said.
Mustakas said Drayton has yet to start a fundraising campaign to cover the cost of certain elements of the new Cambridge theatre. That campaign is set to begin in January. The city, province and federal governments have all chipped in $6 million to cover the construction cost of the new facility.
As plans for the new theatre are finalized, Mustakas already can envision a second phase for the project to create more rehearsal hall space sometime in the future.
While construction is set to start this summer
, Mustakas said $5 million in renovations – funded by the federal and provincial governments at Drayton’s other theatres – is either underway or has been completed.
“Work in Drayton and Penetang has already been completed and we’ve just demolished three-quarters of the building at Grand Bend,” he said.
“We want to have the Grand Bend Playhouse Theatre ready to re-open in June, just in time for its 40th anniversary.”
Mustakas said talks are still continuing with Conestoga College to create a theatre program built around the expertise available through Drayton Entertainment.