The E.A. Rawlinson Centre is bringing choice, diversity and local talent to the stage for its Winter-spring season.
The lineup for January to May was announced at the E.A. Rawlinson Preview night Wednesday.
It features rock, country, classical and even comedy musical acts, as well as two new series the Rawlinson Centre is putting together to help connect with its audience in a different way.
One of the biggest names announced Wednesday is the Arrogant Worms, a Canadian folk-comedy band known for songs such as ‘The Last Saskatchewan Pirate’ and ‘Canada is Really Big.’ They’ve been performing together since 1991 and have performed across Canada, the US and Australia, also appearing on national TV. They’ll stop by the Rawlinson Centre on March 12.
Classical music is also making its return to the Rawlinson Centre season series. Eleven members of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra are performing along with singer Eileen Laverty on April 12, while the Celtic Tenors, a classical crossover act from Ireland, sing in Prince Albert three days prior on April 9.
Other acts include the previously-announced shows by Terra Lightfoot and the Trews, contemporary pop singer Jill Barber, bluegrass band the Slocan Ramblers, country singer Corb Lund and Eagles tribute Hotel California.
“The focus is on diversity, and on quality of acts, and on focusing on the patron,” Rawlinson Centre general manager Roxanne Dicke said.
Season subscribers will be able to book tickets for all 12 shows, or pic, and choose a combination of any four, six or eight shows.
“It’s putting it in the hands of the patron to get to pick what they believe is the right fit for them,” Dicke said. ‘We used to (allow patrons) to pick different numbers of shows, and I’m happy to bring that back, but we’re also bringing into that equation packaging a series we think will appeal to certain groups.”
Two of those series were unveiled Wednesday evening.
One is the Home Grown Series, a set of three performances from local and Saskatchewan-based artists. The series kicks off with Heidi Munro and the Real Groovy Band, on Jan. 26, continues with Larry Krause and his Founders of Canadiana show on Feb. 8 and concludes with Donny Parenteau’s Colours of the Sash celebration of Métis culture.
Bringing those local acts into the season series is an important part of celebrating local talent, Dicke said.
“I so often say we are the last to recognize talent in our own city,” she said.
“It’s about keeping people here. It’s also about exposing the opportunity to people who wonder, ‘could I do that?’ These people are being recognized outside of our centre, so we should be recognizing them.”
For his show, Krause is bringing a bunch of local musicians and celebrating the music and stories of classic Canadian artists who have come before, such as Gordon Lightfoot and Stompin’ Tom Connors.
Colours of the Sash will feature Parenteau as a performer, as well as an “astounding lineup” of Métis artist and up-and-comers, Dicke said, adding that the homegrown series is “crucial to building our arts community.
“Also, it’s appealing I think to a group of people that are maybe not felt as represented here.”
Another local act will help kick off the Rawlinson Centre’s other new series.
The Cabaret Series, not included as a part of the regular season series, will see groups and audience members sharing the same space. The house will be closed, and the entire evening will take place on the Rawlinson Centre stage.
The first rock cabaret show will see Rymestone performing on March 2. The Johnny McCuaig Band, which combines rock music with a set of bagpipes, will round out the air of shows on April 18.
“You’re up close and personal with the artist,” Dicke said. “It’s a very intimate experience.”
Dicke said other acts, such as the classical concerts and the Arrogant Worms show, hearken back to what the Rawlinson Centre has done in the past, and are a sign of things to come.
The classical shows will “attract a clientele that just wants to come in and really enjoy the acoustics of our space,” Dicke said.
“We have an incredible acoustical space. We’re very lucky. It’s built for that.” She said those types of acts used to be performed a lot in Prince Albert years ago, but have since fallen by the wayside.
The Arrogant Worms, she said, is a concert that should appeal to families, something Dicke wants to do more of.
“We’re trying to offer more family-oriented shows in the future,” she said.
“(The Arrogant Worms) are a really defining Canadian comic troupe that captures an era …. And is just geared to families.”
Wednesday’s announcement also marks the end of the half-year seasons. In May 2019, the centre will announce the first preview night for a full-year series. Booking the entire span of September to May or June in one go is what other theatres do, Dicke explained, which makes attracting acts easier. She’s currently working on putting that year-long program together and expects that announcement to become an annual event.
“It’s going to become very exciting because you can plan your whole year. You can see what’s coming, and it’s a chance to be in the know ahead of time,” she said.
She mentioned some plans for the 2019-20 season, including more themed series that attract certain groups of audience members, as well as an expansion of the cabaret-style show into the folk and jazz genres.
More details about the upcoming shows, as well as tickets, are available at earc.ca/events, or by visiting the E.A. Rawlinson Centre box office.