On October 17, 1974 The Bloor West Village Players opened their doors for the first time. The Wedgewood Restaurant, on Bloor near Jane, was the stage for our very first production, The Rainmaker, by Richard Nash. It was performed in the seventy-seat Banquet Room.
The Village Players needed to find a new home to keep up with the demand. In 1977 The Village Players moved east along Bloor Street to 2190 Bloor West, just east of Runnymede, in High Park Place. What started out as an empty room with one light bulb, was soon transformed into a functional and accommodating theatre, with a 160-seat capacity, mainstage area, workshop, two dressing rooms, lobby, costume and props rooms, box office area, and washrooms. And how was the money raised? From private donations, a bank loan, and some help from Wintario. The 1977-78 season helped to pay off the debt. Now, as always, we are proud to say that The Village Players’ major source of income comes from subscriptions and ticket sales. Where does all the money go? Since the Village Playhouse is run solely by volunteers, including board members, the money goes back into the theatre, paying for such things as rent, production costs, royalties, maintenance & cleaning, hydro and telephone.
Who would have thought that such humble beginnings would lead to such a great success? The Village Players strive to prove that you don’t need to go downtown to enjoy great theatre. For over forty years The Village Players have offered a wide range of entertaining plays, from Comedies and Shakespearean dramas to modern tales of romance and suspense. If you’d like to view a little history of the plays that have been produced just check out our washroom decor – the walls are covered with posters from each production.
Who selects the plays? Our Reading Committee spends the year reading, then presents a long-list of recommendations to The Board, which chooses five. The Board then co-ordinates the team for each show; directors, producers, stage managers, designers, operators, and the balance of the team are all pulled from our large volunteer base. Each Board member also has general operations duties to fulfill, including finances, production supervision, technical and property maintenance, promotion, and if they can find the time, some direct a play or even make it on stage.
The success of The Village Players lies on its ability to remain community based. Anyone can volunteer or audition for a role. There are no egos here, just a love of theatre.
Some of the plays that have been produced are: A Man for All Seasons, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Odd Couple, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Lady’s Not for Burning, Equus, The Dresser, The Miracle Worker, All My Sons, Amadeus, Dial ‘M’ For Murder, Witness for the Prosecution and 84 Charing Cross Road. Our 25th anniversary season (1998-99) included the production of: Opening Night, A Murder is Announced, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me , a repeat mounting of Arsenic and Old Lace and Sweeney Todd the Barber.