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Pretty Amazing Content at the PAC

© Mike Keenan


Performing arts buildings are complex. The acoustics, the sight lines and all that have to just be perfect. So you begin with just making these things sublime as musical instruments. And if you fail there, you have failed it all. (Moshe Safdie, famed Canadian-Israeli architect)

Safdie knows what he is talking about. Montreal's Habitat 67 housing complex, Ottawa's National Gallery and Vancouver's Library Square are just a few of his over 100 remarkable architectural projects. And here in Niagara, we are blessed with our own brand new downtown Performing Arts Centre.

Thus, Sara Palmieri is on a roll. She is the Programming and Marketing Manager for the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre or PAC which could more readily stand for Pretty Amazing Content as she enumerates the 2016/17 season's list of myriad, talented performers, offering Niagara a tantalizing smorgasbord from each of the performing arts, starting in October. Music, voice, dance, theatre - something appealing for everyone's taste including oddities such as Inuit throat singing!

But first a quick review of the inaugural season. Was it a success? You betcha, as a former Alaskan wanna-be U.S. VP liked to intone. Over 75,000 seats were warmed for the first HOT TICKET offerings of 100 varied performances including local, national and international dance, theatre, music and comedy acts.

Sara hopes that we will become 2016/17 HOT TICKET members at $100 plus HST. Similar to Stratford and Shaw programs, PAC members can order season tickets and added shows prior to the public, save up to 15 per cent off regular ticket prices, purchase up to 10 discounted tickets per show, bring friends for free to selected events, get invitations to exclusive events, and enjoy complimentary ticket exchanges and discounts at partnering establishments.

She adds, "As the downtown core continues its magnificent transformation, we are delighted to also welcome to our presentation series some of the best musicians, performers, theatre and dance companies from across Canada and beyond to our beautiful halls."

The PAC houses performances by Chorus Niagara, Gallery Players, The Niagara Symphony, The Foster Festival, Yellow Door Theatre Projects, Brock's Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts ENCORE Music Series, and NIFF (Niagara Integrated Film Festival).

Other local groups that appear are the Carousel Players, Essential Collective Theatre, Niagara Artists Centre, Suitcase in Point, TD Niagara Jazz Festival and Twitches and Itches Theatre, along with The Niagara Symphony Orchestra who are performing as part of the imPACt Education Series for Niagara's students.

The Hear! Here! Niagara Music Series, hosted by the Mark Lalama Trio returns with seven shows, and Canadian artists will also be featured with concerts of all genres and styles.

Some of the big names involved are Toronto's iconic Cowboy Junkies; funk's living legend Maceo Parker; GRAMMY-winning Tex-Mex band Los Lobos; the inspirational African a capella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the only Canadian woman to be an official member the Grand Ole Opry, country superstar, Terri Clark. The PAC will host a variety of professional theatre and dance shows from both Canadian and international companies including Ballet Jörgen's performance of the classic Swan Lake.

A big name addition to the October program is Burton Cummings, member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, recipient of the Order of Canada and numerous other honours as one of the most celebrated rock artists in Canadian music history. With The Guess Who, Burton scored an unprecedented string of international hit singles and albums including These Eyes, Laughing, No Time, American Woman, Share The Land, Hang On To Your Life, Albert Flasher, Sour Suite, Orly, Glamour Boy, Star Baby, Clap For The Wolfman and Dancin' Fool, all written or co-written by Cummings.

For more information on becoming a member and the upcoming 16/17 HOT TICKET Season, visit the website at www.FirstOntarioPAC.ca or contact the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Box Office by phone 905-688-0722, email BoxOffice@FirstOntarioPAC.ca, or in person at 250 St. Paul Street, St. Catharines. Box Office hours: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm; Saturday 10am-2pm.

The world is a complicated place, and there's a lot of division between people. The performing arts tend to unify people in a way nothing else does. David Rubenstein


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