By Dianne Cornish, REVIEW STAFF
The vibrancy of community theatre in Waterdown was marked with a celebration Thursday night at Memorial Hall, where close to 90 guests gathered to mark the 40th anniversary of Village Theatre (VT).
“I definitely think we have a vibrant community theatre and we’ll be here for many more years to come,” said Sarah Cobden, president of the VT executive committee, during an interview this morning (Jan. 25). “I feel, as Councillor Judi Partridge (Ward 15) told the crowd last night, that we have ‘a community gem’ here and we’re lucky to have it.”
Cobden said the theatre group wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for the efforts of its founding members, including Lisbie and Mike Rae of Freelton, Don Thorne of Waterdown, Jan Raymond of Hamilton and Gord Raymond, now of Newmarket. All five took part in Thursday’s festivities, cheerfully sharing the task of cutting a large cake emblazoned with the message, “Village Theatre celebrating 40 years live!”
The birth of the theatre group can be traced back to an ad that appeared in a January 1972 issue of The Waterdown Review asking for community residents with a creative bent to attend a meeting. Since then, the group has staged more than 100 plays.
The tradition continues this season with a lineup of comedies, including the production of The Underpants scheduled to open Feb. 15.
“I think we have a lot to offer the community and we’ve gathered a lot of momentum here,” Cobden said, adding that the group’s success lies with its volunteers, audiences and local politicians who have supported renovations to the historically designated hall over the years.
Hamilton’s commitment to Memorial Hall, where VT is based, has been secured said Councillor Partridge. A three-phase restoration plan, which includes new doors and windows as well as the installation of air conditioning and an elevator to make the hall fully accessible, is in the wings. Partridge plans to host a community meeting in May to seek public input on the restoration project.