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Wednesday, 12 November 2014 08:40

Centre Stage Series features Alberta talent

Written by  Rose Sanchez
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The Foothills Brass will perform at the Empress Theatre as part of this season’s Centre Stage Series. The Foothills Brass will perform at the Empress Theatre as part of this season’s Centre Stage Series. Screen capture

Anyone who wants to ensure they see an Alberta act in the next six months doesn’t have to travel far to do so. The Empress Theatre’s Centre Stage Series is underway and this year’s line-up on the historic stage in Fort Macleod features mainly Alberta performers.


“We have so much talent here in Alberta,” says Tim Ranson, executive director and theatre manager. “A lot of these people have performed in Alberta for years and years and years, but never at the Empress.”
The Empress Theatre is a unique place to perform thanks to the historical aspect of the theatre and offers a beautiful space for artists.
So far, two concerts in the series have taken place. Blues performer Tim Williams took the Empress stage on Sept. 27 and on Oct. 25 Edmonton artist and Juno-award nominee Chloe Albert performed.
“I’ve been very pleased with the attendance figures,” says Ranson.
Subscription packages for the six shows started selling in the summer at a deal with six shows for $150. Two-thirds of the seats in the Empress are filled thanks to season ticket holders. There are room for more patrons, with individual tickets selling for $32 each. They can be purchased in advance or at the door the night of the concert.
With no opening acts, the audience is guaranteed at least 90 minutes of music with some shows heading toward the two-hour mark.
“I took a little risk this year,” says Ranson, in booking the acts he did. Feedback from audience members in the past has included that they would like to see a wider range of variety in the acts offered. That’s why this year there is everything from blues to the Foothills Brass.
“Most subscribers have come along for the ride,” adds Ranson.
He is already starting to think about next year’s line-up and how it may shape up.
Following is the schedule for the rest of this season’s Centre Stage Series.
On Saturday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Steve Coffey and the Lokels will perform. Coffey is a film maker, sculptor, painter, singer and songwriter. From Vulcan northeast of Fort Macleod, along Highway 2, he brings his “prairie sensibilities, social conscience and a merry band of talented ruffians.”
The Foothills Brass will take to the Empress stage on Thursday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Dubbed Calgary’s premiere brass quintet, the group will perform seasonal favourites. According to the Empress Theatre’s website, joining this brass ensemble for a portion of the show will be an ecumenical local choir assembled specifically for this performance.
The new year starts off right with Western Canada’s newest opera company on the Empress stage on Saturday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. The website states: “Fun, cheeky and equipped with remarkable voices the Cowtown Opera Company’s unique interpretations of operatic gems and Broadway musicals promises to have something for everyone.”    
The last show in the concert series is Little Miss Higgins and The Winnipeg Five performing Saturday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m. This Brooks-born 2014 Juno Award nominee is known for “old-time country blues with a shot of swing, a twist of honky-tonk and three bags full of sass.” It will be hard not to tap your toes to the band’s friendly sound.
Those people interested in purchasing tickets can phone the box office at 403-553-4404 or toll-free at 1-800-540-9229, Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased online at: http://www.empresstheatre.ab.ca/centre-stage-series.html.

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