Sudbury Theatre Centre celebrates its 50th birthday today.
The letters of patent incorporating Sudbury Theatre Centre were issued by the Province of Ontario through the Minister of Financial and Commercial Affairs on Sept. 14, 1971.
A birthday celebration for STC takes place at the theatre centre’s Shaughnessy Street building tonight starting at 6:30 p.m. A limited number of free tickets for the event are still available (contact the box office at 705-674-8381).
Displays, a photo slideshow, handcrafted cookies and complimentary beverages are part of the celebration. A special presentation at 7:30 p.m. includes music by local musicians Pandora Topp and Andy Lowe (who has written a new song about STC for the occasion).
Judi Straughan, an STC volunteer who has a long history with the organization, said the theatre company has contributed greatly to Sudbury over the last half-century, whether economically, employing hundreds of people, or culturally.
“I think we’ve contributed culturally, we’ve told our stories, and we’ve contributed economically,” she said. “I know we are a feather in the cap of this entire community.”
Straughan, along with former Northern Life and Sudbury Living Magazine managing editor Vicki Gilhula, have penned a coffee table book about Sudbury Theatre Centre’s history.
“A Theatre in Five Acts: Fifty Years of Sudbury Theatre Centre” is being launched at this evening’s anniversary celebration.
“There are lots and lots of great stories and things that you and I would never have known had people not told us,” Straughan said. “The facts are there, the history is there, and the human interest is there.”
She said one of her favourite stories is about an actor who drove to Toronto on his day off, but was having a hard time getting back to Sudbury because of a snowstorm. He actually did manage to get on stage that night — an hour late.
Straughan’s co-author, Vicki Gilhula, writes about history for Sudbury.com. Check out her recent article on STC’s history here.
Sudbury Theatre Centre artistic director John McHenry said the theatre company’s 50th anniversary is “just a fantastic milestone” to have reached, especially in light of COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.
“It’s been a tough year, not just for the STC, but for the symphony, for everybody in the arts,” he said.
After cancelling its last season due to the pandemic, McHenry said STC has planned a scaled-back 2021-22 season.
The season is scheduled to launch Oct. 14 with the one-woman show “Quiet! I’m Talking.”
The STC’s Matt Heiti returns with his one-man adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” over the holiday season. Heiti’s new play about Amelia Earhart, “Ever Falling Flight,” is scheduled for the new year. The season will close out with another one-woman play called “This One.”
“It is a scaled-back season because of COVID,” McHenry said.
“We can’t have a lot of people backstage. We don’t have the room. We decided to keep it small and healthy. Unless the government shuts us down again, we’ll be pushing forward. We can play to 50 per cent capacity, which is 144. So fingers crossed.”
For more information and tickets, visit STC’s website.
In 2021, Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario also turns 50. Sudbury.com featured the Francophone theatre company’s anniversary back in April. You can check out that story here.