Written by Beth McMaster
The opening of Showplace Performance Centre on October 5, 1996 truly was a night of celebration. When the glittering show began with the song This is the Moment, it spoke for everyone in that sold-out house. After decades of frustrating attempts to establish a theatre, Showplace marked the beginning of a new era of entertainment for the Peterborough area.
The theatre at 290 George Street was created from what had been built in 1947 as the Odeon movie theatre. The J Arthur Rank Organization had opened the state-of-the-art space with the mystery thriller Green for Danger and showed, as well the recent Royal Wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten. Newspapers of the day gave the new movie house rave reviews.
In 1979 the theatre was divided into two spaces and although it was under different ownership (Trent Cinemas), it was still operating in that form when the newly formed Showplace Board of Directors purchased it in 1995.
Architectural firm Lett/Smith was selected to design the 650 seat space. The building was totally gutted and reconstructed into the beautiful theatre it is today. Capital fundraising continued until the mortgage was burned within 4 years of opening.
Much of the campaign success can be attributed to the volunteers who organized fundraisers, canvassed for sponsorships and sold naming opportunities. Of the $3.2 million cost of the project, $2 million was raised by the Campaign and Fund Raising Committees. Volunteers still play a major role in the ongoing success of Showplace.