EDI Update

In the past month, work has continued through the Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access Advisory Council meetings, with a focus on respectful bridge-building opportunities with Indigenous communities, land acknowledgment details and program and policy recommendations.

In efforts to secure additional support for EDI work, multiple granting opportunities have been targeted and processed through community foundations and government bodies.

During theatre closure, interim programming was developed to animate the space and stay connected with the community through Playbill Presents. The Series will officially open on October 16 with additional performances and artists scheduled for November. Click here for more information about performers and performances.

Staff and Board engagement continues through the approval process of an updated Respectful Workplace Policy, which includes additional reporting options.

By |July 14th, 2020|Categories: Theatre News|0 Comments

2020 Season Update

The Plan for 2020

The Chemainus Theatre Festival has been performing live theatre on Vancouver Island for 28 seasons. It has grown stronger through each challenge it has faced – enduring epic snowstorms, windstorms, and economic downturns.  

The Chemainus Theatre Festival has been working hard to assess the best possible plan to move forward in the 2020 Season and beyond.  We have been following the mandates of government officials, public health authorities, and medical professionals to address the health, safety, and well-being of our patrons, staff, volunteers, and artists. With social distancing measures in place and the uncertainty of when the ban on larger public gatherings will be lifted, it is more evident than ever that we must remain closed for the unforeseen future. Because of this, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the remainder of our 2020 season.    

We are so thankful to have a loyal and courageous community who care for the Chemainus Theatre Festival. This is one of the most challenging and heartbreaking decisions we have ever had to make.  We acknowledge the impact it will have on our Chemainus Theatre community. We feel the loss of the 2020 Season and all that it touches.  We are a theatre of celebration and hope.  While we hope for the best, we recognize that planning for the long-term life of the theatre society requires other measures.   

COVID-19 has closed live professional theatres and mass gatherings across Canada. While government officials and public health authorities have begun to publicly discuss plans to lessen restrictions, unfortunately, the theatre industry’s great intermission, as recently described in the Globe and Mail, seems to have only just begun. 

We Need Your Help!

These are unsettling times. The Chemainus Theatre Crisis Relief Fund has been established to help us withstand this difficult time and return in 2021 when it is safe to do so.  Today more than ever, we will rely on charitable support.  If you are able to help, any donation will be an integral part of helping us build towards our next season. 

2020 Season Subscribers

If you have purchased a 2020 Season Ticket Subscription you can choose from a range of options including 2021 credits, donation opportunities and refunds.


Single Ticket Holders

If you have purchased tickets to any of our 2020 Shows you can choose from a range of options including 2021 credits, donation opportunities and refunds.


Thank you for your patience, support, and understanding and for being a part of the Chemainus Theatre Experience.  Be well and stay safe.  We look forward to seeing you next season when we can all share our creative energy, artistry, determination, and heart.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why have you cancelled your entire season?

The Chemainus Theatre Festival has been working hard to assess the best possible plan moving forward in the 2020 Season and beyond.  We have been following the advice of government officials, public health authorities, and medical professionals to address the health, safety, and well-being of our patrons, staff, volunteers and artists. With social distancing measures in place and the uncertainty of when the ban on larger public gatherings will be lifted, it is more evident than ever that we must remain closed for the unforeseen future.

How do I contact the Chemainus Theatre?

The Chemainus Theatre offices are closed until further notice. Box Office staff are working remotely and can be reached via email. We are unable to accept incoming phone calls at this time.

If you have purchased tickets, we ask that you please submit the Ticket & Subscription Options form on our website.

For other inquiries, please email boxoffice@chemainustheatre.ca. Email volume is currently high, so we thank you for your patience as we respond to your inquiries.

Which shows are cancelled?

The Chemainus Theatre has suspended the remainder of its 2020 Season. The theatre will reopen when health officials declare that it is safe to do so.

The following shows have been cancelled for the 2020 season:

  • THE 39 STEPS

Will these shows come back next season?

At this time we are unable to confirm whether or not these shows will come back next season. Our team will be diligently working on the 2021 Season during this closure and look forward to sharing an update when possible.

What happens to my tickets?

If you have purchased tickets this this season, you can choose from a range of options including 2021 credits, donation opportunities and refund. We ask that patrons please fill out and submit the Ticket & Subscription Options form, indicating your preference.

When can I expect my request to be processed?

We will be working as quickly as we can to process ticket forms. The initial volume will be very high and we appreciate your patience and understanding. It is our goal to process all requests by June 5.

What happens to my Best Western hotel booking?

If you booked hotel accommodations through the Chemainus Theatre as part of a Getaway Package, your hotel reservation will automatically be cancelled by us. You do not need to contact the hotel separately.

What is a Chemainus Theatre Account Credit?

A Chemainus Theatre account credit offers ticketholders the most flexibility. It is a secure and efficient way to deal with tickets to cancelled performances.

  • Credits live in each patron’s Chemainus Theatre account. It is yours to use however you want, whenever you want.
  • If you are unable to attend the new show dates, you can use your credit towards any future show booking, including theatre tickets, dining, hotel and subscription packages.
  • You can convert your credit into a Gift Certificate at any time.
  • Credits can be used in one transaction or spread across multiple transactions.
  • Credits do not expire.

How do I use my account credit for another booking?

Once regular operations resume, you can call the Box Office at 1-800-565-7738 or book online. You can access your credit from your shopping cart.

How can I help?

As a not-for-profit organization, the Chemainus Theatre Festival relies on the generous support of our patrons and sponsors.  The Chemainus Theatre Crisis Relief Fund has been established to help us withstand this difficult time and emerge strong when it is safe to do so.  Today more than ever, we will rely on the charitable support of our community to help bring the quality entertainment you’ve come to expect.  If you are able to help, any donation will be an integral part of helping us build towards our next season.  Click to donate here.

I booked with a 2 for 1 Coupon. Will my coupon be honoured next season?

Coupons from the 2020 coupon books are valid for the 2020 calendar year, in accordance with each coupon book publisher. The amount credited to you is the total amount paid in the original transaction.

By |May 21st, 2020|Categories: Theatre News|0 Comments

Grease All-time Best Selling Show

Grease is the word and it is now our all-time best selling production…This is the first time we’ve sold out an entire production run – remarkable considering it’s nearly three month’s long.  This likely places us in a small group of North American theatres that have experienced a complete sell-out over a continuous run of this length – 98 performances,” says Randal Huber, Chemainus Theatre’s Managing Director.

Produced by the theatre 40 years after the hit 1978 movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, the songs and story have not lost their appeal for audiences on Vancouver Island. Summer visitors and locals to the Cowichan Valley have been flocking to the theatre and to enjoy favourite tunes such as ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘Greased Lightning’. Throughout its show run, even the town of Chemainus has worked to support this particular summer hit with events such as the downtown Classic Car Show, hosted by Tourism Chemainus.

The reviews for Grease have been outstanding; the Cowichan Valley Review said: “The production is anchored by fine performances and excellent musical numbers that highlight both the vocal and dance skills of the cast.” Local theatre critic Janis LaCouvee stated: “Grease is about “a time, and a place” and—most assuredly—“a feeling”— it’s arguably this feeling that brings audiences back, time and again, to experience it.” Even audiences loved the performances, leaving feedback such as: “Loved Grease. Very professional and very entertaining. I would recommend a visit for anyone who loves musicals.”

Earlier this summer, Chemainus Theatre announced that we have secured the rights to Mamma Mia, and the response has been outstanding. Audiences are using social media to tag friends and have begun to plan a visit to Chemainus next year to see this popular musical. The rest of the 2019 season will be announced this fall, followed by season ticket sales, and single tickets to go on sale in the New Year.

Congratulations to the hard-working cast and creative team of Grease for putting on such a successful and fantastic show! Time and time again we have heard compliments about the set, costumes and how incredible every cast member was in their performance.

The Chemainus Theatre, a not-for-profit theatre company, is happy to announce that the success of Grease has put us back on track for our 2018 season targets. We would like to thank everyone who has supported local theatre in the season so far, and look forward to seeing you for our future productions.

Introducing Executive Chef Nick Caulford

Thank you to Nick Caulford for taking some time to answer our questions and share a recipe!

Q: Can you tell us about your background and training?

A: I moved to Vancouver from Toronto when I was 20 to attend Culinary Arts/Hotel & Restaurant Management school at Dubrulle Culinary Institute. I worked in restaurants in Vancouver and Toronto before moving to London England where I worked for a restauranteur group travelling from location to location throughout Europe training staff and performing Quality Assurance programs and initiatives. When I returned to Canada I moved to Banff where I began working for Brewster Hospitality, managing Food & Beverage Operations in their hotels.

Q: What led you to Chemainus Theatre Festival’s Playbill Dining Room?

A: My wife and I had always wanted to raise our children on the Island as the majority of her family lives in the Cowichan Valley, and I was always interested in getting back to my culinary roots where my initial training was, in Pacific Northwest cuisine. We moved to Chemainus in 2016. I have to admit that I was quite fortunate to become the executive chef at The Chemainus Theatre Festival, the timing just seemed right as our previous executive chef Steve Hewson was set for retirement. I had started as the part time evening sous chef of the theatre in March of 2017 working just 2 evenings a week. The theatre had such an impressive reputation amongst the locals and through word of mouth, I was excited to apply for employment.

Q: Farm to Table is important to you. Can you tell us about some of the partnerships you have formed with local farmers?

A: To me, Farm to Table is a wonderful concept. I have had the luxury of working for a Resort in Ontario on the shores of Rice Lake that had its own farm on location (Elmhirst’s Resort) that was doing a wonderful job with the Farm to Table concept. The farm would produce annual yields of vegetables from their own gardens of around 2 tonnes. They raised ducks and chickens for egg production as well as their own Beef Cattle on property. These items produced on the farm were exclusively used in supplying our dining rooms. It’s a special accomplishment not many can say they have the ability of bringing to market. To me, I am more focused on and passionate about fresh and local ingredients from the Island and the Lower Mainland. There are so many independent and micro farms, wineries, breweries and fisheries in our community. It’s really quite an exciting place to be. The Cowichan Valley is especially growing more of a food & wine culture. I have been reaching out to many of these local businesses to begin forging relationships hopefully for many years to come. We are all part of this community and supporting our neighbours will help showcase to locals and tourists what our region can do.

Q: Audiences love to see how the show is highlighted in the menu. Any shows for 2018 inspired you in particular?

A: They all have in some way. It is really fun creating menus that theme with a particular show or region of the world. I think I am most excited for Million Dollar Quartet and Glorious! Grease should be really fun as well. It’s difficult to not get carried away and want to over-theme every dish. We always try to have a good balance of dishes available to please everyone.

Q: Fridays in the Playbill Dining Room will have a new feature, the Table D’hôte. Can you tell us what Friday night audiences can expect with this wonderful new service?

A: The New Friday Night Table D’hôte experience will be a hybrid of a buffet and a plated dinner service. The Soup and Salad Buffet will still be in existence as well as the Dessert Buffet. The concept of the Table D’hôte portion of Friday nights will be a 3 choice plated main course menu that will feature and showcase items never before offered in the Playbill Dining Room. Offerings from Prime Rib to Lobster Tails depending on which shows you attend.

Q: The Scalloped Potatoes in the ‘Cornwalls’ All-Inclusive Cancun Christmas are like something out of a dream. Could you please share your recipe if there are any patrons who would like to impress their dinner guests this season?

Thank you for the kind words. It would be my pleasure.


Potatoes Au Gratin (Scalloped Potatoes) Serves 4-6

2lbs Russet Potatoes

3 Cups Whipping Cream

1 tsp Kosher Salt

1/8 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper

Pinch of Nutmeg

2 Cloves of Garlic, Peeled & Smashed

¾ Cup Gruyere Cheese Finely Grated

½ Boursin Herb & Garlic Cheese

  • Heat the oven to 400°F. Using a very sharp knife or a mandolin, carefully cut the potatoes into 1/8-inch slices (no thicker).
  • Put the potatoes in a large heavy-based saucepan and add the cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and garlic. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat until the cream is boiling, stirring occasionally (very gently with a rubber spatula so you don’t break up the slices).
  • When the cream boils, pour the mixture into a 2-1/2- or 3-qt. baking dish. Shake the dish a bit to let the slices settle and then sprinkle the surface with the cheese.
  • Bake in the hot oven until the top is deep golden brown, the cream has thickened, and the potatoes are extremely tender when pierced with a knife, about 40 minutes. Don’t worry if the dish looks too liquidy at this point; it will set up as it cools a bit. Before serving, let the potatoes cool until they’re very warm but not hot (at least 15 minutes) or serve them at room temperature.
  • Garnish with Fresh Parsley & Chives.


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|0 Comments

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