Ken Peter (Rainbow Stage)
"He loved to laugh and to make jokes. He loved to tease and to be sort of goofy. But he was also incredibly passionate. He'd get riled up about issues regarding the theatre scene and he was equally passionate about finding the right pieces for Rainbow and for trying to discover the key to unlock what would make Rainbow successful. He was a very driven man."
—- Donna Fletcher
The Winnipeg arts community is mouring the death of Ken Peter, an icon of the local dance and musical theatre scene. He died on December 20 at the age of 65.
Peter was a key figure in the dance community, respected as both a dancer and choreographer. As founder of a family-run studio, Ken Peter's Dance Express in East Kildonan he fostered the love of dance for thousands of young people.
He was an important creative force at Rainbow Stage, the longest-running outdoor theatre in Canada. He was a long-time board member of the organization and since 1998 served as executive producer.
In that capacity, Peter made a point of giving many opportunities to young people. Donna Fletcher is an actor, singer and director who has a long association with Rainbow Stage. Peter hired her to direct a production of Annie, to be staged this summer. "It was a big step to hire new, emerging local directors," she says. "I'm the first Winnipeg woman to be hired to direct there. So it means a lot on so many fronts. The fact that he was forward thinking and willing to take a chance.with the shows they do. They're huge budgets, they're huge cast sizes."
She says Peter worked hard to keep the theatre relevant and vital to traditional audiences but also to a younger generation.
He is survived by his wife Marian and children Scott and Jayne.
Listen to Donna Fletcher in conversation with Larry Updike on Up to Speed: