Topic: Vancouver BC Vogue to become supper club
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Registered: May 2003
posted October 20, 2005 09:50 AM
The new owner of the Vogue Theatre on Granville Street says he wants to create a supper club on the site of the 65-year-old cultural icon. To do this, however, he will have to convince the city to allow major changes to the 1,144-seat interior—changes that could run into some bureaucratic opposition.
The Vogue has been a key venue for the Vancouver International Film Festival, the Comedy Fest, and has hosted major touring shows over the years, including Stomp, Rent, and Red Rock Diner. The Vogue has also served as an important spot for live rock ’n’ roll in Vancouver, with acts like Phish, the Killers, Lucinda Williams, Sarah McLachlan, Ween, and No Doubt all playing the theatre before they graduated to bigger rooms.
Joey Gibbons, the head of Whistler-based Gibbons Hospitality Group, told the Georgia Straight that his company paid approximately $3 million to buy the Vogue. He said that his vision is to provide entertainment for diners, perhaps with a duelling piano show or a jazz ensemble.
He also suggested that a comedian could perform on-stage during the Comedy Fest. Will Davis, head of the festival, told the Straight that he can’t use it as the event’s main stage if any seats are removed.
Gibbons added that the kitchen would also be on the stage, with a wine rack surrounding the proscenium. “You see your server go up, run up the library ladder, pull your bottle of wine out,” he said. Gibbons suggested that later in the evening, the lights would dim and people could begin dancing, though there wouldn’t be a traditional dance floor.
Gibbons, owner of Buffalo Bill’s Bar &Grill and the Longhorn Saloon in Whistler, said he is hoping to attract an over-30 crowd to his new supper club. Gibbons didn’t rule out trying to obtain the city’s permission to sell density and use the proceeds to refurbish the building.
“Our goal here is to create that glamour and that prestige that Granville Street had in the ’40s and ’50s,” Gibbons said.
Michael Gordon, senior Vancouver city planner, told the Straight that the theatre’s interior has “great value” in the eyes of the city’s heritage planners. “We would certainly want to be looking at some use of the theatre that would retain the interior as much intact as possible,” Gordon said.
Sue Harvey, the city’s managing director of cultural services, told the Straight that the Vogue is one of several venues that are “really critical to the whole cultural infrastructure” in Vancouver.
Meanwhile, the theatre’s current manager, Jon-Paul Walden, told the Straight the Vogue and the Orpheum are the only two heritage theatres left in the city. He added that it has been booked every day from September to December.
Some producers aren’t happy at the prospect of major changes to the Vogue. Robert Benaroya, managing artistic director for Caravan World Rhythms Society, told the Straight there is no other venue that size in the city other than UBC’s Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. “In general, in Vancouver it’s very, very diffult for me to get venues of about 300 to 1,200 seats,” Benaroya said.
Producer Tom Lightburn told the Straight that the Vogue is “ideal” for a variety of productions. “It should be run by some not-for-profit corporation and should be available part of the year to community groups,” Lightburn said.
Alan Franey, VIFF director, said at the closing ceremonies that his organization will have to look elsewhere for a venue for gala screenings. Gibbons, however, said that he hopes to continue the Vogue’s involvement wtih VIFF and other festivals.
The Vogue was particularly important for musical acts that target the all-ages crowd, as well as for artists who’d outgrown smaller clubs like Richard’s on Richards but weren’t yet able to fill the Orpheum or Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The senior director of talent with House of Blues Concerts, Ian Low, told the Straight that the Vogue is an ideal venue because it is downtown and easily accessible by public transit.
“There’s going to be a hole for sure—I really want to stress that,” Low said. “If you had artists between the 500- and 1,500-capacity range, you could generally sell 1,100 tickets for a Vogue show. Often, a lot of the rock or punk shows are general admission, so that gave you a place to put them.”
Low noted that House of Blues will still have the option of booking all-ages shows into the Croatian Cultural Centre. “But it’s going to be hard when instead of being able to chose from two venues you only have one,” he said. “On a Saturday night, there’s a good chance you can’t get into the Croatian, and you can never get in there on Wednesdays because they have bingo. It’s going to be a juggling issue to try and make concert dates happen in Vancouver.” (Files from Mike Usinger and Janet Smith)
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