CAT’s downtown launch

Enthusiasm is building for the grand opening celebration of City Centre Stage – Central Alberta Theatre’s long-awaited and highly-anticipated addition to the downtown core.

Tonight is ‘Catena’ – the annual season launch where folks get a sneak-peak at some of the upcoming productions planned for the next year.

It will be held at City Centre Stage so those attending will be among the first to get a first-hand look at the facility, which once housed the old Uptown Theatre.

Next up, on Sept. 7, a special grand opening is planned as well.

City Centre Stage is certainly a welcome addition to Red Deer’s downtown, which has faced its share of challenges over the years in attracting a steady and growing flow of traffic.

But things are indeed looking up on several fronts with the addition of Red Deer College’s Donald School of Business in the Millennium Centre as well. It’s expected to draw hundreds of students downtown daily.

Meanwhile, it’s also wonderful to think about the range of entertainment and cultural events that will be presented at City Centre Stage.

The building has undergone a major transformation and certainly expands CAT’s presence in Red Deer.

Founded in 1970, CAT has a long and colourful history originally forming from an amalgamation of the Parkland Players and Red Deer Musical Theatre.

It’s now one of the oldest amateur theatre groups in Canada. According to CAT’s web site, the very first production was Oklahoma which was performed at the Memorial Centre. In 1979 the group began producing dinner theatres which first were held at the Red Deer Elks Club.

From 1970 to 1986 main stage productions were performed on the Red Deer Memorial Centre as well Red Deer College and from 1979 to 1990 dinner theatres were held at the Red Deer Elks Club.

They were next staged at the Black Knight Inn starting in 1990. In 1993 Central Alberta Theatre voted to approach the City to take over the operation of the Memorial Centre so in 1994 an agreement was made and CAT had a new home. The space there was further expanded and opened in 2002.

The latest milestone was of course the acquisition of the old Uptown Theatre. Over the months since, anticipation has been building as to what the finished premises will look like. There’s no doubt it will open the door to all kinds of new creative possibilities.

Red Deerians can be proud of this committed group of artists that has kept the organization moving forward for four decades. And the future is bright, to say the least.

It will be exciting to watch the fresh energy, entertainment and culture City Centre Stage will bring to the downtown core.