CORNER BROOK With just around 11,000 seats sold between June and September, Gaylene Buckle is happy with how Theatre Newfoundland Labrador’s 2012 Gros Morne Theatre Festival played out.
The 2012 season, which featured six shows, ends tonight in Cow Head with “Who’s Darkening Our Door?” featuring Rob Thorne and Stephanie Payne.
Buckle is the general manager of Theatre Newfoundland Labrador. She’s still working on the final stats for the season, but said overall visits are on par with last year. Visits in June and July were down a bit, but then August saw an increase in numbers before dropping off again in September.
She attributes the early decrease in numbers to the fact the festival was running fewer performances then as it tried something different with how it opened each show.
“We gave every show more rehearsal time and more technical time and this meant every opening was delayed a bit,” said Buckle.
She said the change worked well from an artistic point of view because the focus was more on one show at a time.
In terms of the actual numbers in the audiences, Buckle said it’s common to see a fluctuation.
“There’s some nights you have empty seats and other nights you’re turning away 30 or 40 people. There was night after night after night that we were turning away people.”
The dinner theatre “SS Ethie” continued to be a sellout and the comedy “Cod on Stick” sold out many nights. Another popular show was “Newfoundland Vinyl.”
“There were very few empty seats in that show,” said Buckle of the musical comedy featuring hits of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
Something that Buckle noticed having more of an impact on visits this year was a lack of accommodations in the area.
“We’d have empty seats in the theatre, however, people were cancelling or not able to book because they had nowhere to stay.”
Buckle said the dangers of driving after dark in Gros Morne National Park meant people were not keen on driving even the short distance from Rocky Harbour to Cow Head for the shows.
TNL has been discussing the issue with the Gros Morne Cultural Blueprint and Buckle hopes that they will be able to address it by putting in some form of transportation service around the park.
A positive note for the summer was TNL’s rural tour of “Tempting Providence.” The show played in 69 venues around the province, everywhere from fire halls to school gymnasiums and churches.
Buckle said a spinoff from the tour was that many people who attended “Tempting” later travelled to Cow Head to take in shows at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival.