Binoculars not needed in Nelson

Some of the sharp dressed men at Friday night
Some of the sharp dressed men at Friday night's Nelson Civic Theatre gala.
— image credit: Sam Van Schie photo

Nelson loves to dress up, as evidenced by the Bond look-alikes who turned up for Nelson Civic Theatre Society’s kickoff gala. Who knew there could be so many James Bonds, Bond girls, and Bond villains? By the time the prizes were awarded, the lights went down, and the screen came alive, it felt like anything could happen.

Dressing up in character for the movies isn’t new. From Barbara Bergen’s apartment on Victoria at Cedar Street she could read the marquee — with a little help. One evening in 1975 she got out the binoculars and there it was: Rocky Horror Picture Show.

“I hadn’t seen any previews for the film,” says Bergen, who thought it was a horror movie, “but on a whim called a friend to go that night. What a raucously delightful madcap bombshell it was! We marveled at this ground-breaking indie film for its irreverence, and laughed ‘til we cried. Musical horror story meets campy gender-bending sexcapade? I’d love to have heard that pitch!”

Anyone who has seen this famous cult dress-up film can only imagine what a would-be director faced with that screenplay. Courage and vision (and humour) was clearly required.

There was plenty of courage and vision in the presentation heard by a packed house at the kickoff gala on Friday night, when project manager Roger Ley pitched the Nelson Civic Theatre Society’s community challenge.

Courage, because to turn an aging single-screen cinema into a fully digital three-screen theatre is no small feat. Vision, because thanks to the skills, experience, and goodwill in the community, the potential for success is clear. But there are milestones to reach. Enter the community challenge — and let the show begin.

To install digital projection and surround sound in the main theatre space the price tag is $150,000. But the good news is we’re halfway there. This comes thanks to a generous private donation of $60,000 coupled with $15,000 already raised.

The challenge: raise $75,000 in our community by May 1.

It’s not so hard, really: if just 250 people sponsored seats (there will be 450 seats total) and 125 more decided to invest $100 in our theatre, we’d be there. Any and all support is welcome. Cheques made to the City of Nelson, earmarked for the Civic Theatre, are eligible for a tax receipt. Go to for more.

We’ve got a great team with our board, advisors, volunteers and two new project managers: Ley as our theatre’s “face” in the community fundraising campaign and Sue Adam ensuring we have best practices in place for everything we do. We had a great kickoff weekend, with sold out shows. You could say we’ve got a solid screenplay.

All movies start with a pitch, and someone with courage and vision. In this case, it’s all of us. Of course it’s just the beginning of our movie, which will see major renovations and three theatre spaces before the final credits roll. But this is the fun part: when the lights go down, the screen comes alive, and anything can happen.



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