Rainbow Stage is Canada's largest and longest-running outdoor theatre, located in Kildonan Park in north Winnipeg, Manitoba. The covered, open-air theatre seats up to 2,600 people and operates from May to September.
In 1950, Oliver M. "Hap" Day (President of the Civic Music League) was interviewed by newspaper columnist Frank Morris, and was asked about a summer venue for the Winnipeg Musician's Association's Brass and Concert Bands. Due to severe flooding, the bandstands at Assiniboine Park and Kildonan Park were unsuitable. The newspaper column that Morris produced featured a picture of Day and called for the construction of an outdoor stage in Winnipeg. The Winnipeg Summer Theatre Association was founded in 1956 to administer the theatre. Tn 1966 the non-profit organization Rainbow Stage Inc was chartered, with Jack Shapira as executive producer.
The 3,000-seat outdoor stage was designed by architects Smith, Carter, Katelnikoff. The design's curved structure sparked the idea to run lights along it and name it Rainbow Stage. Construction began in 1951 and completed in 1952. Additional work on the amphitheatre was completed in 1953. The first concert was performed by the touring Kitsilano Boys Band from Vancouver on 22 September 1953. In 1954, pergola walkways were constructed on either side of the amphitheatre. The official opening of the stage was on 7 July 1954 and featured a benefit concert. During 1954, the stage saw 19 performances to a combined audience of more than 19,000.
A triodetic dome was constructed over the theatre in 1970. Further renovations were completed in 1975, which resulted in a modernized facility but a reduction of 600 seats. The renovations involved a labour dispute and a temporary move to the Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall. In 1986, a fly gallery, carpentry and paint shops, classrooms and expanded change rooms were added to the facility. The 1986 renovation involved replacing an original timber arch. A commemorative plaque and a replica of the arch were erected in front of the building in 1988.
Jack Shapira was maintained as executive producer of Rainbow Stage Inc until he was forced to resign in 1988 as a result of financial improprieties. Jerrett Enns became general manager in 1991.
The first original production at Rainbow Stage came in 1990 with the musical review Say It With Music. The performance featured songs from various musicals.
In 2011, the building's exterior was painted in an extensive mural by local artists Mandy Van Leeuwen and Michel Saint Hilaire. Painting began June 1 and the finished murals were unveiled in August. The mural covers 8,000 square feet (740 m2) of concrete and required 400 colours of latex paint.
In 2012, the theatre appointed Ray Hogg as Artistic Director and promoted Julie Eccles to Executive Director. After a successful and critically acclaimed 2013 season, 2014 saw the summer playbill feature three shows for the first time in over 30 years.
The city of Winnipeg has budgeted to spend $1.65 million on refurbishing Rainbow Stage in 2016.
Rainbow Stage has presented the following shows in its history:
- 1955 - Brigadoon
- 1956 - The Wizard of Oz, Annie Get Your Gun, Our Town and Kiss Me, Kate
- 1957 - Can-Can, Pitfalls of Pauline, Do You Remember, I Remember Mama, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Chu Chin Chow, Pot O'Gold Variety Show
- 1958 - The King and I, Hell's A' Poppin', Brigadoon
- 1959 - Guys and Dolls, Show Boat, The Wizard of Oz
- 1960 - The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees!, Carousel
- 1961 - South Pacific, High Button Shoes, The Most Happy Fella
- 1962 - The Music Man, The Student Prince, Oklahoma!
- 1963 - West Side Story, The King and I, Bye, Bye Birdie
- 1964 - The Sound of Music, Anything Goes, Finian's Rainbow, Gypsy: A Musical Fable
- 1965 - Flower Drum Song, Can-Can, Guys and Dolls, Annie Get Your Gun
- 1966 - My Fair Lady, South Pacific
- 1967 - Oliver!, The Sound of Music
- 1968 - Carnival!, The Music Man
- 1969 - The King and I, Funny Girl
- 1970 - The Wizard of Oz, Hello, Dolly!
- 1971 - Peter Pan, Fiddler on the Roof
- 1972 - Cinderella, Mame
- 1973 - Where's Charley?, Annie Get Your Gun
- 1974 - The Sound of Music, No, No, Nanette
- 1975 - My Fair Lady
- 1976 - Oklahoma!, Brigadoon
- 1977 - Irene, Fiddler on the Roof
- 1978 - Oliver!, Hello, Dolly!
- 1979 - The King and I, The Desert Song
- 1980 - Guys and Dolls, Show Boat
- 1981 - South Pacific, Funny Girl
- 1982 - The Pajama Game, The Music Man
- 1983 - The Pirates of Penzance, Kiss Me, Kate
- 1984 - Kismet, Fiddler on the Roof
- 1985 - H.M.S. Pinafore, Mame
- 1986 - The Student Prince, The Sound of Music
- 1987 - My Fair Lady, Annie, Anne of Green Gables - The Musical
- 1988 - Oliver!, Sweet Charity
- 1989 - Carousel, Peter Pan
- 1990 - Anything Goes, Say It with Music, Cinderella
- 1991 - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Wizard of Oz
- 1992 - The Wizard of Oz, Guys and Dolls
- 1993 - Fiddler on the Roof
- 1994 - Brigadoon, Damn Yankees!
- 1995 - Oklahoma!
- 1996 - The Sound of Music
- 1997 - South Pacific
- 1998 - The Music Man
- 1999 - Crazy For You
- 2000 - Singin' in the Rain, 42nd Street
- 2001 - A Chorus Line, Big: The Musical
- 2002 - Fame, West Side Story
- 2003 - Footloose, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
- 2004 - Chicago, The King and I, Beauty and the Beast
- 2005 - Miss Saigon, Good News, Smokey Joe's Cafe
- 2006 - The Wizard of Oz
- 2007 - Grease, The Sound of Music
- 2008 - The Full Monty, Peter Pan, Forever Plaid
- 2009 - Beauty and the Beast
- 2010 - Rent, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
- 2011 - Cats, Hairspray
- 2012 - Footloose, Annie
- 2013 - Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story, Mary Poppins
- 2014 - A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline, The Producers, Disney's The Little Mermaid
- 2015 - West Side Story, Les Misérables, Sister Act
- 2016 - Ring Of Fire, Shrek The Musical
- 2017 (announced) - South Pacific in Concert (with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra), Little Shop of Horrors, Mamma Mia!
Rainbow Stage features Canadian actors, musicians and production team members, many of whom are hired locally. Stars for some productions include the directors John Hirsch and Peggy Jarman Green; the conductors Filmer Hubble and Eric Wild; the singing actors Evelyne Anderson, Len Cariou, Ed Evanko, Cliff Gardiner, Morley Meredith and Bill Walker; the chorus director James Duncan; and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet artistic director Arnold Spohr. Other Canadian performers at Rainbow Stage have included Jan Rubes, Roma Hearn, Catherine McKinnon, and Wally Koster. The 2011 production of Hairspray featured American actor George Wendt in the role of Mrs. Edna Turnblad.
The first full-length musical to be presented was Brigadoon, in the fall of 1955. Since then most of the productions have been of Broadway musicals including: Annie Get Your Gun (1956), Kiss Me, Kate (1956), The King and I (1958, 1963, 1969, 1979), Guys and Dolls (1959, 1980), Damn Yankees (1960), The Boy Friend (1961, 1975), Pal Joey (1962), The Music Man (1962, 1968), My Fair Lady (1966), The Sound of Music (1967, 2007), Carousel (1989), Cinderella (1990) and Anything Goes (1990) In 1990, Rainbow Stage presented its first original production, the musical review Say It With Music, "put together by Manitobans for Manitobans" featuring songs from The Wizard of Oz, The Music Man, Kismet, Gypsy, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, and other musicals.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Rainbow Stage.|
- "AboutUs". Rainbow Stage. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- "Venues". City of Winnipeg. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- Harrison, Glen. "Rainbow Stage". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
- Goldsborough, Gordon (19 February 2012). "Rainbow Stage (Kildonan Park, Winnipeg)". Historic Sites of Manitoba. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
- Thacker, Sandra (17 August 2011). "At Rainbow Stage, even the walls are part of the show". CBC News. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
- Mayes, Alison (21 June 2011). "Vibrant mural welcomes Rainbow fans". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 14 January 2013.