MONTREAL — Renovations to the Segal Centre for Performing Arts at the Saidye are close to completion, its officials say.
A $3-million makeover of the now 41-year-old facility was announced last June, along with the renaming and redirection of the former Saidye Bronfman Centre.
The work, which began in July, had been expected to be completed in October, but the delay has not put a damper on the centre going ahead with an ambitious slate of programming.
Artistic director Bryna Wasserman and new managing director David Moss unveiled a busy schedule of events from now until the summer.
This month saw the launch of the Academy of Performing Arts for children and teens; the opening of the original musical Houdini, which continues until March 2; the Canadian premiere of the exhibit Al Hirschfeld: The Magic of Performance, on until March 3; and the first in the Schulich Educational Concert Series for young people, which features musicians from McGill University’s music school.
From Feb. 16 to 21, CinemaSpace, the new 77-seat screening room on the lower level is showing the 10 films nominated for the annual Alex and Ruth Dworkin Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance Through Cinema, awarded during the Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québécois festival.
Wasserman said the level of activity so early in the centre’s new mandate is “beyond our wildest dreams.”
“We are thrilled to welcome all in the community into this transformed space that is already bustling with people and creativity,” said Moss, who is a former executive director of the Saidye Bronfman Centre, and was more recently director of the Opéra de Montréal.
The new Studio, a second performance space created where the spacious Liane and Danny Taran Gallery used to be, got high marks from Prof. Gordon Foote, associate dean of the Schulich School of Music. “The [Studio] space is absolutely gorgeous, and its acoustics were fantastic for a jazz orchestra. I’m really happy that this concert series is happening and I know that many students will have their eyes and ears opened to the world of music as a result.”
The Studio, which feature flexible seating and arrangement of performance space, has already hosted the new resident theatre company, Sidemart Theatrical Grocery, with the North American premiere of Trad, as well as the Communauté Sépharade Unifiée du Québec’s Rentrée Culturelle, a Jewish Public Library film festival, and, last month, the chamber music opera The Dybbuk, featuring the local ensemble QAT in collaboration with the City of Montreal.
Al Hirschfeld: The Magic of Performance, currently showing, is a multimedia exhibit of the works of the renowned caricaturist who was associated with the New York Times for 75 years.
On Feb. 28, the centre hosts a reception for member of Culture Montréal, an agency dedicated to promoting the city’s cultural aspects.
“All this creative activity and seeing so many new, young faces entering the centre is a blessing,” said Wasserman. “Leanor and Alvin Segal’s commitment to this city and the arts community, to this centre, its vision and mandate is truly extraordinary. Their example inspires us to keep believing wholeheartedly in what we do and to work tirelessly toward making dreams into reality.”
Also on the centre’s calendar are the following events:
• the play I, Claudia March 16 to April 13;
• a concert by the Strathcona String Quartet, March 19;
• a performance of No More Almonds, No More Raisins by Young Actors for Young Audiences, March 24 to 26;
• the production The Village March 28 to 30;
• a concert by the Schulich Percussion Ensemble, April 14;
• The Other Theatre’s production of Macbeth, April 18 to 24;
• The Haunted Hillbilly, a Sidemart production, April 25 to May 7;
• the play The Odd Couple, in the main Leanor and Alvin Segal Theatre, May 4 to 25;
• The Yiddish play The Wise Men of Chelm, June 11 to July 3, also on the main stage.