Entertainment Local

VPP creating vision around audience

By Melissa Schilz, Postmedia Network

The Victoria Playhouse Petrolia has announced their 2018 season, and they've shaped it around what audiences have asked for. (Melissa Schilz/Postmedia Network)

The Victoria Playhouse Petrolia has announced their 2018 season, and they've shaped it around what audiences have asked for. (Melissa Schilz/Postmedia Network)

The Victoria Playhouse Petrolia has curated their upcoming 2018 season with their focus on what their audiences wants: music, laughs and uplifting stories.

 

Co-Artistic Director David Hogan said this is the seventh year that he and David Rogers have been at the forefront of the VPP. This time around, they decided to place their vision for the theatre in the hands of the theatre goers.

 

“We love challenging ourselves as artists, but we also want people to come and love what we do,” Hogan said. “This really is the people’s choice.”

 

Marketing Director Callandra Dendias said after every show, patrons receive a survey to voice their thoughts on the experience, and they want to hear it all, whether it’s praise or criticism.

 

“The nice thing is people aren’t shy about it,” she said. “People are really happy to open up the dialogue.”

 

Hogan said that’s one of the strengths of the VPP – they’re always making themselves available to listen to what their audiences have to say.

 

After their recent benefit concert, Grateful Hearts, in memory of Ruth Brown, Hogan said they realized that they wanted to give audiences more of what they saw happen on stage there. That’s when Rogers came up with the overarching theme to “Let Your Spirit Soar”.

 

“It was such a huge generosity of spirit, [Rogers] said, OK, this is what we have to do,” Hogan said. “This is the kind of theatre we do, a theatre of spirit.”

 

Hogan said it’s more than just the actors and the audience, they aim to foster a sense of community and family. After Michigan couple Sharon and Skip Dixon, who frequented the VPP, recently left over $250,000 to the theatre as an endowment, Hogan said that shows just how close they are to their audiences.

 

“It’s quite a compliment,” he said. “We know we’re connecting with our audiences…and we don’t take it for granted.”

 

Dendias said audiences have a trust in Hogan and Rogers. Since they began, sales have steadily climbed each year – in 2017 they sold over 1000 more tickets than in 2016.

 

Hogan said they’re not just throwing shows together, they are working hard to create something audiences will love, creating drama and emotion on the stage.

 

A majority of the 2018 shows are original productions created by Rogers, Hogan and Mark Payne. Hogan said they try to bring audiences as much original content as possible because it always proves to be the most popular.

 

They will also have a number of returning faces to the stage this year, including Norah McLellan and Amber Tomlin.

 

Hogan said they always create goals for themselves each year, and they hope to bring in even more people to the VPP next year. They will also be launching a new campaign in January 2018 in honour of Sharon and Skip Dixon.

 

“It’s so empowering when you have a group of members saying we believe in what you’re producing and doing,” Hogan said. “It’s exciting.”

 

mschilz@postmedia.com