BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
The Red Lake Wilderness Entertainment Series (WES) just wrapped up its second season last week, but plans are already in the works for 2014-15 with some new genres and an expanding line-up.
The series grew from five to six concerts after its first season, and the WES committee is planning for seven next season – in September, October, November, January, February, March, and April.
“Part of our vision is to bring a variety of performing arts so that it’s not just about singing. There are other genres that we need to explore with the community,” says WES Chair Angela Bishop. “But there’s a very practical reason as well. We will get more funding from government granting agencies if we provide a variety because that’s what they want to see…”
“This year we’re really fortunate to be brining Manitoba Theatre Centre, because that is a professional theatre group. They tour throughout Manitoba and into northwestern Ontario. They’ve been going to places like Sioux Lookout, Dryden, Kenora and Atikokan for 30 years. So we are the first addition to that tour in probably 30 years. It’s exciting. It’s professional – the sets, the actors, the direction, and it’s really amazing that they can do that here.”
“Then we’ll have some comedy theatre with Robert Post…we’re branching out a little bit there. He’s very funny, it’s a one man show so it’s always amazing to see what one person can do on the stage to bring a story to life. The other exciting thing is he’s going to be doing a workshop for people in the community – so for the Patricia Players and Theatre 105 – it’ll be a workshop on how to write your own comedy material for a nominal fee. I think it’s a perfect fit!”
Apart from those two shows, the upcoming WES line-up includes:
• Tenor Ken Lavigne, formerly of the Canadian Tenors, backed by violin, piano and stand-up bass;
• John Mann, who is also the long-time front man to Spirit of the West;
• Bluegrass/folk/rock artist Corb Lund, lead of Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans;
• Country act The Brothers Landreth;
• And adult contemporary artist Chantal Kreviazuk, likely backed by Kevin Fox who played at RLDHS with Kim Stockwood during WES’ first season.
WES also became incorporated this past season, which means the group can apply for grants such as the Canadian Heritage Grant, not available to the group before.
Bishop says one of the challenges WES still faces is trying to convince people in the area to take a chance on acts they aren’t familiar with.
“The thing we struggle with is getting the word out there…making people aware and drawing them in to either commit to a passport or just come to a concert to see artists that they don’t know. When it becomes part of your way of life, it’s just the thing you go to.”
She points to the Jesse Peters Trio, which attracted the lowest audience this season (107 people), but wound up being one of the series’ most entertaining and colourful acts.
Rebecca Ross, who moved to the area from Timmins in September, said she thoroughly enjoyed Jesse Peters as well as Rose Cousins who played back in the fall, even though they were two of the least known performers.
She says she and her husband took a chance on one show back in the fall and are hooked – looking forward to next year.
The price for a 2014-15 season passport is $140 for the seven shows. Individual tickets will also be available closer to the show dates. In addition to selling tickets at a local outlet, WES will be offering the option to purchase online this year as well. Tickets will be on sale towards the end of summer.