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Remembering Kenneth O. Smith

The Chemainus Theatre Festival is saddened to announce that its founder, Kenneth O. Smith, passed away peacefully on November 14th, 2017 at the age of 90.

Ken was the driving force behind the founding and development of the Chemainus Theatre in 1993 and, with his wife Ruth, stood faithfully behind it, seeing it through to present-day maturity.

He was passionate about theatre and inspirational to artists and staff, while serving many years as Board Chair.  Ken played a lead role in all of the Theatre’s campaigns and capital projects over the first 25 seasons – including the construction of the Theatre’s Production Centre and the development of the Chemainus Best Western Hotel.

Ken was the ultimate theatre angel; unwavering in his support and constantly brimming with vision and enthusiasm.   He was gracious and kind, quick to offer his thanks and words of encouragement, and would always encourage Theatre management to “dream big.”

Ken’s substantial impact on the arts and artists in BC carries on through the creative and artistic role Chemainus Theatre Festival plays in the arts and culture sector.   The Theatre has grown to become the third largest producing theatre in British Columbia, drawing 75,000 theatre goers per year.  Over its first 25 seasons, over 4,000 artists, actors and directors have worked at Chemainus Theatre while creating theatre for over 1.3 million attendees.

Ken’s legacy stretches beyond Chemainus Theatre to include instrumental roles in the founding of Regent College at UBC, Pioneer Camps (Thetis Island and Chehalis), Honeymoon Bay Retreat Centre (Honeymoon Bay) and the Calling Foundation in Vancouver.

His last public outing was attending the Theatre’s 25th season celebration on June 23rd 2017 and we will forever cherish the long and enthusiastic standing ovation that the packed house gave Ken when his enormous contributions were recognized.

Rest peacefully, Ken.  We will miss you and always be thankful for the impact you’ve had on our lives and the great opportunities that your faith and generosity have afforded us.

By |November 22nd, 2017|Categories: Theatre News|1 Comment

Fall 2015 Message from the Managing Director

photo_jeeves4Welcome Friends.

2015 has been a tremendous season at Chemainus Theatre. We’ve enjoyed knock-out theatrical productions and a record number of sold out houses. This season also marks the close of our current strategic plan titled Sustaining the Festival 2012 – 2015 and what a way to cap things off!

Our Board of Directors recently met to review the plan and it was so gratifying to recount the accomplishments and milestones achieved during this period.

To me, the highlights have included…

  • Striving for higher artistic standards and diversity by staging a wide range of productions from intimate dramas like A Shayna Maidel and Waiting for the Parade to musical tributes such as Buddy and our largest production to date Les Misérables.
  • The complete (and slightly overdue) renovation of the Playbill Dining Room with the addition of the popular Fireside Lounge.
  • The launch of our 60 seat Studio Theatre (next door to the Best Western) with Freud’s Last Session.
  • Expanding of our theatre networks by joining the Professional Association of Canadian Theatre as affiliate members and attending the annual conference.
  • Revamping the Gallery Gift Shop with new lighting and an updated mix of merchandise.

Of course, all this was made possible by you – our audience. We’re pleased to reach the above goals. Engaging our audience in a deep and meaningful manner is essential for sustaining great theatre. The beating heart of any vibrant theatre is its audience. As we embark on the planning process to set our next strategic plan, I thank you for your support along the way and look forward to the journey ahead.

Randal Huber

Summer Message from the Managing Director

photo_mouse_5Whether you’re here for the first time or your fiftieth, we’re elated that you’ve joined us today in Chemainus!

The show that you’re about to see is the culmination of a lengthy, intensive creative process. As much as two years can pass from the day that we obtain licensing rights for a production to the day that show opens.

All of our shows are fully professional with directors, designers and casts from across Canada. The full host of creative talent converges on Chemainus weeks before the scheduled opening, to rehearse and bring to life all those lines of text and bars of notes contained in the script. Over the course of a season, we employ over 150 artists to stage eight different theatrical productions.

The Theatre is fortunate to own all of the facilities that we require to create and perform productions. From the 270 seat main stage theatre that you’re sitting in today, to the rehearsal hall, costume shop, scene shop and offices all located a few blocks away next door to the Best Western Hotel – they’re all dedicated to providing you with an amazing theatrical experience.

The Chemainus Theatre is a registered charity, just the same as all Canadian theatres from the smallest to the very largest like the Shaw or Stratford Festivals in Ontario. We draw about 70,000 theatre-goers a year and you may be surprised to learn that we are the 3rd largest professional theatre in British Columbia.

This is all only possible with you – a wonderfully supportive and engaged audience. Thank you for attending and we hope you leave here today enriched, entertained and eagerly looking forward to your next Chemainus Theatre Experience.

Randal Huber

Summer Message from the Artistic Director

photo_twist19 Summer in Chemainus, music that rocks and a collection of creative and talented people from across Canada making their home on Vancouver Island for the time. These are just a few of the reasons why Twist and Shout is a treat to produce on this lovely stage. From listening to the sounds and instruments of the era, to enjoying the tunes pumping out of the rehearsal hall – this summer is all about nostalgia, celebration and the robust energy that this time and music inspired.

After years of playing on the boards here in Chemainus, and now a few years and the occasional grey hair as Artistic Director – I am so thankful for the many friends this theatre has and how they support the work we do. During each season, I get to work with creative, energetic and passionate artists through planning, rehearsal and coordination with colleagues across the nation (including the good people at Ontario’s Drayton Entertainment and this show’s director – thanks Alex). We see thousands of people enter the theatre with anticipation and exit with delight. Thanks to all of you who are a part of the exchange through the rich, vibrant and exciting world we create, inhabit and enjoy here in Chemainus. Enjoy the show.

Mark DuMez

By |June 13th, 2015|Categories: 2015 Season, Theatre News|0 Comments

Chemainus Theatre Wins Business Achievement Award

This week we were humbled, honoured, and very excited to receive the award for “Business Achievement 20 or More Employees” at the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce Black Tie Awards. What a great feeling to be a part of such an amazing non-profit organization and to be recognized for our work.

It was a wonderful evening and we were amid a room full of incredibly talented and committed individuals. Congratulations to everyone, it was a wonderful event. Here’s a list of all the winners

Appreciating Our Volunteers


Volunteer appreciation week is April 12 to 18 and that’s one of my favorite quotes about the value of volunteers. Volunteers have truly kept the good ship Chemainus Theatre afloat through our first 23 years. There’s no doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the selfless contribution of volunteers. This past year alone 154 people volunteered a total of 6,127 hours. Checking coats, showing us to our seats, building costumes, pulling weeds, helping in the office, serving on the board of directors… no task is too great or too small.

Volunteerism is one of the things that make Canada the greatest place to live on Earth. Each year 12.7 million Canadians give 2 billion hours of time. Next chance you have be it here or elsewhere, say thank you to a volunteer who is giving their time to make your life better.

Randal Huber
Managing Director

By |March 24th, 2015|Categories: Theatre News, Your Support|0 Comments

Chemainus Theatre Opens New Season in February


It’s here again – the magic of creation, the skill of top-notch performers and the revelry of story and song. Once again, a dedicated collection of professional artists and performers from across Canada has gathered to create a theatrical season and experience unique to Vancouver Island.

In this charming town by the sea, we will rock to musical legends from Arkansas to the British Isles, delight in antics from Virginia country charmers to New York City’s bustling metropolis and
follow a paper-boy who delivers the news with a side serving of the voice of God. And it’s all staged with sophistication, curiosity and the verve that excites and ignites the body and soul.

Theatre that explores and nourishes the human spirit through a deep and ecstatic connection with story is what the Chemainus Theatre Festival is all about. Thank you for joining us in this vibrant and charming town.

Randal Huber
Managing Director
Mark DuMez
Artistic Director
By |January 12th, 2015|Categories: 2015 Season, Theatre News|0 Comments