Theatre brightens the cultural landscape

Bernie Legge Theatre as it was in 1914. Photo: Vagabond Players
Bernie Legge Theatre as it was in 1914. Photo: Vagabond Players

One of the many things I admire about New Westminster is the innate enthusiasm found here concerning the city’s history, the pride that’s shown in it, and the continuing traditions which bring that history into the present as well. I’ve lived here for about a year and a half at this point, and I’m still discovering little corners of the city that shares an illustrious history, and continues as a force to bind a community together.

The Bernie Legge theatre is the home of the Vagabond players, nestled in the trees near Queen’s Park stadium. The theatre building was constructed in 1909 under the eye of architect E.G.W Sait, once a fisheries building, and turned over to the Vagabond Players in 1951.

The Players themselves date back to 1937. Since then, the troupe has hosted a number of luminaries in their ranks, including the Medallioned One himself, Bruno Gerussi, and Perry Mason/Ironside local hero Raymond Burr.

The idea behind the troupe is the encouragement and development of local talent. This is not just in treading the boards as actors, but also in the very important fields of set design and construction, costuming, light and sound, and even ushers, coffee bar staff, and ticket takers.

The point is that theatre does not have to be a faraway and inaccessible activity that happens mysteriously somewhere else. But rather, theatre created by those living in the same community can be something that brightens the cultural landscape on the most direct level possible. It takes a city already enriched by its own history, and makes sure that the history goes on for current and upcoming generations of those interested in artistic expression. Local theatre can bring unique vibrancy to the lives of friends, neighbours, co-workers, and community leaders.

Apart from regular performances of plays you know, and some you don’t know yet, here’s what lies at the heart of the troupe’s approach in creating an environment that puts the ancient art of theatre into the hands of everyone in the community.

From the Vagabond Players website :

Vagabond Players is not just a troupe that puts on plays. It is a learning center for people interested in becoming actors, directors, lighting or sound technicians, set designers, and costumers. It’s also a place where aspiring writers can present their new work. (read more about local theatre in New Westminster from the Vagabond Players website …)

See that last part about writers? That should send the imaginations of you aspiring playwrights out there a-reeling!

Of course in addition to being involved in productions, a big emphasis with local arts is getting people out to the events themselves. In the past, the local community was enthusiastic about funding local theatre. And even today, anyone can contribute to the Vagabond Players first by seeking a membership, and of course by buying tickets to upcoming shows as well.

And what are those upcoming shows as of this writing? Well,

  • Doubt – October 21-November 13
  • The Highwayman’s Christmas – December 18 & 23 at 7:00 p.m, December 19, 21, 22, 26, 27 & 28 at 2:00 p.m.
  • Norman, Is that you? – Jan. 20 – Feb. 12
  • Amadeus – March 31 – April 23rd
  • Shadow of Murder – June 2 – 25

You can reserve tickets by phone at 604-521-0412, or reserve them by email at

For you experienced, and presumably not-so-experienced thesps out there, auditions for Amadeus, including the role Salieri (immortalized by F. Murray Abraham in the 1986 film version, a role for which he was awarded an Oscar for Best Actor ) are being conducted November 28th-29th.

For more information, be sure to visit

And because I’m the one writing this piece for Tenth to the Fraser, and because I can’t help myself in my role as resident music geek, here are 5 songs loosely about stardom, actors, and the stage.

1. Everybody is a Star – Sly & The Family Stone

2. Stage Fright – The Band

3. You Don’t Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show) – Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis

4. Nick Lowe – Marie Provost

5. I’m in Love With A German Film Star – The Passions