'Everything fell into place' for Theatre Canmore, a new troupe in the Bow Valley, producer says

A theatre company, now barely three months into performing, is selling out shows with the regularity of a much more established organization.

Professional company sells out plays, plans web series just months into opening

The theatre company is performing It's a Wonderful Life, the radio play, for the Christmas season. From left: Tyler McClaron, Erin Walsh, Martin Finnerty, Jeremy White and Gerry McAuley. Not pictured: Kelly Cytko. (Amy Liu/Theatre Canmore)

A theatre company, now barely three months into performing, is selling out shows with the regularity of a much more established organization.

Theatre Canmore performed its first production in October and has several running over the winter, including the radio play version of the Christmas classic, It's A Wonderful Life.

"Everything just fell into place," artistic producer Melanie DesRoches told the Calgary Eyeopener.

It's the only professional theatre company in the popular Alberta tourist community, which draws thousands to explore its mountainous landscape. They've been able to hire local people who've trained in theatre and stage production but are working in other industries.

"There just wasn't enough opportunities for them to act. And then we also thought there wasn't enough going on," DesRoches said.

"So we thought, we've got all these actors and theatre people, we've got an audience, so why not make theatre happen?"

Web series 'reflects reality'

In the new year, the theatre company is launching a 10-part web series called Canmoretown, which tells the story of 30-somethings trying to make a life in a mountainous tourist community.

"We keep losing our cast and crew because they keep moving away because it's too expensive for them to live here," said DesRoches, who wrote the episodes. "The web series reflects reality."

Theatre Canmore is launching a 10-part YouTube series in the new year. It's about 30-somethings surviving in a tourist town with high rent and low wages. (Toomas Meema/Theatre Canmore)

Canmore has struggled with a low vacancy rate and high demand for tourist or short-term rentals. Recently it started to fine illegal short-term rentals, including Airbnbs.

  • Listen to Melanie DesRoches talk about the theatre company's successful first season

Theatre Canmore also has the play, Sex with Strangers, starting in February, a murder mystery dinner theatre for Valentine's Day and a 10-minute play festival in March, followed by a co-production of Cougar Annie in April.

DesRoches says they want to increase the amount of theatre in the Bow Valley, to become a draw for tourists and an outlet for artistic Albertans. The group has plans to produce pieces written by local residents, too.

So far, performance attendees have been half local and half visitors, she said.

With files from Caroline Wagner and the Calgary Eyeopener