Chemainus Theatre Festival personnel determined on the same day as the solar eclipse Aug. 21 that Rock Legends was going to eclipse a record in the theatre’s 25th anniversary season.
Honestly, folks, you can’t make this stuff up.
Rock Legends did indeed go into the stratosphere for ticket sales, eclipsing (there’s that word again) the previous mark from 2008 by South Pacific.
“It set the record as the new all-time best selling show ever,” confirmed managing director Randal Huber.
The fact it happened during the anniversary season made it all the more special for staff to see the theatre still packing in the patrons a quarter of a century after it opened.
“That makes it perfect,” enthused Huber. “We couldn’t ask for anything more. Now, it raises that benchmark higher.”
Rock Legends celebrated a great era of music from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s with a stellar cast. Huber indicated the show sold 25,350 tickets for its run of 101 performances that began on June 2 and ended Aug. 26.
That just nipped South Pacific’s total of 25,200.
Huber pointed out the Rock Legends attendance represented 96 per cent of capacity.
“Just an incredible response,” he remarked. “People love the nostalgia and all the famous musical acts.”
The feedback Huber and others received to the show was beyond expectation. People like Barb and Des Montgomery from Errington, who’ve been to countless shows over the years, sent Huber an email to express their delight.
“Never have we seen anything to compete with it,” wrote Barb. “All members of the cast were perfect in the parts they played and gave all they had to make it the best show we have ever seen, including London and Paris.
“I must say that Aadin Church caused me to hold my hands to my face and cry. That has never happened to me before. He sang from his heart.
“The costumes were marvellous, the set very clever and there was never a break in the wonderful entertainment.”
That was typical of countless other responses Huber received either in person, from emails or second hand from someone else.
It all makes it a hard act to follow, as they say in the business, but the Chemainus Theatre folks never rest on their laurels.
Huber is hinting something in 2019 might just generate the same kind of remarkable interest.
“We’ve got a show that’s coming up that we think will be a record-breaker as well,” he predicted.
But before we get anywhere near that point, there are many other shows to produce and stage. The season-launch party for the 2018 lineup takes place on Oct. 20.
Huber has seen the lean times, having been at the theatre from the beginning, so he can appreciate the glory days all the more. Much of it has to do with the timing and the type of the performance that captures the public’s imagination.
“These things are beyond your control,” Huber conceded. “You can’t get it perfect all the time.”
The appeal of the nostalgic musical is huge now, but might not always be the case.
“Two or three years, it’s going to be different than it is now,” noted Huber. “You’ve always got to stay on top of trends.”