The Arts Club Theatre Company is the largest theatre company in Western Canada. Each year, over a quarter of a million people experience the best in professional theatre at its three venues: the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, Granville Island Stage, and Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre, as well as on tour throughout the province. Its popular productions range from musicals and contemporary comedies to new works and classics. The Arts Club also expands its audiences outside Vancouver through a three-show mini-season tour presented at venues around British Columbia. The 2018/2019 Arts Club season features six productions at the historic 650-seat Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage; five productions at the vibrant 440-seat Granville Island Stage; and four productions at the intimate 250-seat Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre.
The Arts Club of Vancouver was founded in 1958 as a private club for artists, musicians, and actors, and officially became the Arts Club Theatre in 1964 when the company opened its first stage, a converted gospel hall at Seymour Street and Davie. The company's twenty-seven years at Seymour Street are an important part of Vancouver and Canadian theatre history. The 250-seat stage helped launch the careers of Canadian talents such as Michael J. Fox, Bruce Greenwood, Ruth Nichol, Janet Wright, Winston Rekert, Lally Cadeau, Ann Mortifee, and Brent Carver, while introducing Vancouver to works by Canadian playwrights such as Michel Tremblay, David Freedman, and Carol Bolt. Productions by newcomers Sherman Snukal (Talking Dirty), Nicola Cavendish (It's Snowing on Saltspring), Morris Panych (7 Stories), and John Lazarus (The Late Blumer) also premiered there. The original Arts Club Seymour Street Stage was closed for demolition in 1991.
The company added the current Granville Island Stage in 1979, and the smaller Revue Stage next door in 1983. Innovative versions of classics such as Comedy of Errors; colourful Canadian hits such as Billy Bishop Goes to War; dramas like Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune and comedies including Lend Me a Tenor, have brought the Granville Island Stage numerous awards and an excellent community following. The Revue Stage was home to some of Vancouver's all-time favourite musicals, revues, and comedies, including Ain't Misbehavin', before it was leased to the Vancouver Theatre Sports League in 1997. After an extensive renovation, the Revue Stage re-opened as an Arts Club venue in 2010 with the world premiere of Anosh Irani’s My Granny the Goldfish. After five more seasons there, the Arts Club moved the Revue Stage programming to the new Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre in Olympic Village. This innovative stage offers multiple seating configurations, such as thrust, proscenium, alley, and more. The Goldcorp Stage opened in November 2015 with Peter and the Starcatcher, and also housed the premiere production of Onegin in March 2016.
The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, in the South Granville neighbourhood, opened to the public with Dean Regan's record-setting production of Swing in October 1998, and it is now considered the company's flagship venue. An intimate version of a Broadway or London classic theatre, this elegant stage has permitted the company to move into the exciting arena of producing larger musicals, 20th-century classics, and acclaimed productions from around the world.
No history of the Arts Club would be complete without a mention of Bill Millerd. A graduate of the University of British Columbia and the National Theatre School, Bill first joined the Arts Club in 1969 as a stage manager and remained in the role of Artistic Managing Director from 1972 until his retirement in 2018. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1994 for his contribution to Canadian theatre.
Artistic Director Emeritus
No history of the Arts Club would be complete without a mention of Bill Millerd, Artistic Director Emeritus. A graduate of the University of British Columbia and the National Theatre School, Bill first joined the Arts Club in 1969 as a stage manager and remained in the role of Artistic Managing Director from 1972 until his retirement in 2018. During his tenure, Bill expanded the company’s operations to include year-round programming and regional and national tours. Bill oversaw the construction of two theatres on Granville Island—the Granville Island Stage, in the fall of 1979, and the Revue Stage, in 1983—and the reopening of the historic Stanley Theatre, now the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, in 1998. Under Bill’s leadership, the company produced 500 plays, including more than 120 Canadian works. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1994 for his contribution to Canadian theatre.
Read the Arts Club Theatre Company's 2017/2018 Annual Report for insights on the 2017/2018 season, including: production stats, financials, awards, and information on our youth education and new play development programs.
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