Fredericton Playhouse

Fredericton Playhouse

Nestled in downtown Fredericton, adjacent to the provincial legislature and the Fredericton Convention Centre, the Fredericton Playhouse has been a premier venue for performing arts for many years.

The construction of the Fredericton Playhouse (originally known as the Beaverbrook Auditorium Inc.) was completed in 1964, thanks to a generous one million dollar donation from the renowned cultural patrons Lord and Lady Beaverbrook. The 1000-seat, Georgian-style edifice soon became an integral part of the city’s cultural scene.

playhouse

On September 26-27, 1964, the Fredericton Playhouse unveiled its doors with a two-day, sold-out inaugural gala performance. Although Lord Beaverbrook passed away before the building’s opening, Lady Beaverbrook presided as both hostess and guest-of-honour at the ceremonies. She shared a touching dedication from her late husband, Lord Beaverbrook, which expressed his hope that the Playhouse would “help the people of New Brunswick become artistically receptive and productive.”

Between 1964 and 1969, the Playhouse mainly functioned as a roadhouse (rental facility).

In 1969, Walter Learning, the Playhouse’s Director at that time, founded Theatre New Brunswick (TNB), Canada’s sole professional English-speaking touring company, making the Playhouse TNB’s headquarters. To enhance technical capabilities and intimacy between audience and performer, the facility underwent a renovation in 1972. This refurbishment added a fly tower and a box office, and the auditorium’s size was trimmed down to a capacity of 763 seats.

To artfully camouflage the fly tower’s noticeable addition, artist Tom Forrestall was commissioned to craft an enormous exterior mural. This artwork, depicting a gift adorned with colorful ribbons, symbolizes the myriad of artistic treasures awaiting inside the venue.

In 2000, Fredericton Playhouse Inc. took over the ownership and management of the facility. Adopting a mandate to enrich the Greater Fredericton area with diverse performing arts experiences and to provide a platform for local productions, the facility refocused on its initial objective — with a stronger emphasis on local rather than provincial interests. Managed by a volunteer board of directors, Fredericton Playhouse Inc. is a charitable non-profit corporation.

Over subsequent years, the building underwent various significant enhancements, including the installation of new technical production equipment, replacement of seats (the auditorium currently accommodates 709 spectators), refurbishment of washrooms, concession areas, and other areas. Theatre New Brunswick relocated its offices and production facilities, creating additional space for other touring and local productions.

Many popular entertainment figures, including Celine Dion, Diana Krall, Leonard Cohen, The Guess Who, Karen Kain, Michael Bublé, and Simon and Garfunkel, have graced the Playhouse stage during their careers.

Fredericton Playhouse

Today, the Fredericton Playhouse serves as a professional platform for local, national, and international artists and companies. In addition to hosting touring artists as part of its professional series, the Playhouse offers a comprehensive education and outreach program. It has earned numerous accolades from the Canadian Arts Presenting Association, the East Coast Music Awards, and the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.

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