Posted: Aug 18, 2008, 2:04 AM
Elle est déjà vide!
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Big Bad Ottawa
Another new theatre - this time in Little Italy
Things are looking good for Preston Street. I was wondering what happened to the old GCTC space; after they left there were people who were trying to convert it into a live music bar and I went to see a show there with some fellow Forumers last December (Kruger Brothers), then it fell dark again. I guess the bar people didn't have their act together, the night we went to that show they didn't have their liquor licence yet... anyway, this here is good! Looking forward to seeing their marquee sign.
August 9, 2008
Raising the curtain
By DENIS ARMSTRONG, SUN MEDIA
Steve Martin did what the City of Ottawa, the Chamber Music Society and a half-dozen homeless theatre companies couldn't do for themselves.
He used his own money to launch an artistic venture. He bought GCTC's old theatre at 910 Gladstone Ave., and is converting it into one of the swankiest venues for live theatre in the city.
Martin is a crafty entrepreneur who's got show business in his blood. He owns the successful Arthur Murray Dance Studio next door, and has watched Preston St. go from four blocks of Italian eateries into an emerging entertainment district firsthand.
So, when the city and various arts communities abandoned all the plans and public meetings to buy the old GCTC theatre, Martin and his wife Marilisa saw a slam-dunk opportunity.
"Live theatre is on the rise in Ottawa," the 38-year-old Martin says. "As a businessman, I know the appetite for theatre is there. Buying The Gladstone theatre and being a part of the Preston St. scene was a good, sound business decision.
"People want to be entertained when economic times are bad, and they want to have a good time when times are good," he adds.
Martin likes to live large. But at the same time, he's a sharp businessman with a keen eye for a deal.
He bought the empty building for $525,000, a price he calls "a bargain," then spent another $750,000 for renovations and transforming the building from a cinderblock garage into an elegant theatre, expanding the lobby and the backstage area, decorating the box-office and lobby with granite floors and counters and elegant chandeliers, red carpets and installing an eye-catching marquee to the new facade.
"Jaws will drop when people see it," he promises. "Especially those who knew the theatre when it was GCTC. I want it to be more like going to a private party."
Martin has recruited four of Ottawa's most popular theatre companies -- 7:30 Productions, Odyssey Theatre, Company of Fools and Martin's own Gladstone Theatre -- to create 12 productions in their first season, which opens on Sept. 11 with Alan Ayckbourn's scabrous comedy How the Other Half Loves.
Also planned is David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Rabbit Hole, Martin McDonought's award-winning Lieutenant of Inishmore, Donal O'Kelly's Catalpa, John Patrick Stanley's Pulitzer Prize-winner Doubt, David Mamet's gripping Glengarry Glen Ross and A Guy Named Joe, Odyssey Theatre's first indoor production in 24 years of outdoor theatre-making.
SHORTAGE OF SPACE
Given the citywide shortage of theatre space and all the new companies that have come on to the scene, The Gladstone's first season is almost fully booked. That bodes well for Martin, an avid amateur actor who is funding the project out of his own pocket. Eventually, he wants to be operating 45 weeks a year and perhaps perform in a couple shows himself.
"The easiest way for an actor to get the best roles is to buy the theatre," he jokes before adding seriously, "This is my first, not my last theatre."
For more information, go to www.thegladstone.ca.