Around the year 1973, a woman named Pat Allan helped to found the original Fort St. James Music Makers Society.
The group was an enthusiastic bunch, hungry for the cultural stimulation of theatre and music.
With a pianist accompanying them, the group put on large productions over the years, from South Pacific to Cabaret, Phantom of the Opera to Cats, with production crews and casts in the range of 20 to 25 people per show.
“When I was involved, I really looked forward to the rehearsals, it was really enjoyable and fun,” recalled Rosemary Allan, current president of the Music Makers Society.
There was even a dinner theatre at one time, so theatre-goers could take in a meal and a show all in one, quite an undertaking for a group to produce.
Initially, Rosemary Allan said she joined the theatre to overcome her fear of performing.
“When I joined I was scared silly to get up on stage,” she said. And while she said she was never entirely cured, she still did it, and had fun with it too.
“Anybody can be an actor or actress,” said Allan. “We’re all amateurs, and all started out that way and still are really.”
But she said people enjoyed it and had fun, and were proud of what they did.
Even blowing a line wasn’t a big deal, in fact, Allan said the audience seemed to get a kick out of it, almost considering it part of the experience.
But it isn’t the same Music Makers it was.
Some key people moved away, and some are getting older and want to move on to other things, changing the society so that Allan said “it became like a job more than anything.”
Sometimes at rehearsals, not enough people would show up to have a rehearsal, and so everyone would have to go home.
“The younger people have got so many other interests that I guess they don’t have time for that,” explained Allan.
But she’d hate to see it fold after so many years and so many great productions.
Especially after the recent improvements to the Music Makers Hall, which underwent some sprucing up with the revitalization projects within the community.
Not to mention the hall costs money to keep going, so the society has to put on a performance or two a year just to cover the $5,000 annually in insurance, heat and hydro power.
While Allan said the Arts Council helps out with $300 in grant funding each year, it is far short of what it would be to just keep the hall going.
But more than money, Music Makers needs people, and Allan said anyone interested should come out and give it a try, even if they just want to help with the production, and not necessarily even be on stage.
“Have fun and enjoy it,” she said.
While she enjoyed it for many years, Allan is ready for someone to take over.
“I’m older too, and we need some young ideas in there, young ideas and young people.”
The club is now practicing for a play and anyone is welcome to come to practices on Tuesday and Thursday nights at the Music Makers Hall across from the bus depot.
People can also give Rosemary Allan at 250-996-8997 or Heike Fonda at 250-996-7006 a call if you would like more information.