Workers are hustling to finish the new concrete stage at Bower Ponds by Canada Day.
The stage is to be opened for use during the July 1 festivities by cultural dancers, singers and other entertainers.
But a plan by Prime Stock Theatre to perform Shakespeare in the Park on the same platform later in July could not be accommodated, said Kristina Oberg, culture superintendent for the City of Red Deer.
She explained that project builders, Phoenix Construction, need a month after Canada Day to make any needed adjustments to the new stage.
Feedback will be gathered from groups who use it on July 1 and “we want to make sure we deal with any inefficiencies.”
Oberg regrets not being able to meet Prime Stock Theatre’s needs, but she said, “we couldn’t promise there would be no remedial work.”
Prime Stock’s artistic director, Thomas Usher said he is looking forward to doing Shakespeare in the Park next summer.
Oberg hopes to be able to meet the theatre group’s needs then.
In the meantime, she said Usher has agreed to tour the stage and also provide feedback on how well it will work for future theatrical productions.
The goal is to create a performance space that meets the requirements of a broad range of groups, said Oberg.
The new concrete platform was built for about $480,000 to replace the old wooden Bower Ponds stage.
The old stage was destabilized by river flooding.
The new stage will be larger and covered, to protect performers’ equipment from rain.
Oberg said it will have supports in place for overhead stage lighting and larger storage rooms on both sides for props and sets.
Edna Warriner, volunteer organizer for the Canada Day celebration at Bower Ponds, is relieved to hear the new stage will be ready for Canada Day.
She has at least 25 groups lined up to provide entertainment, including a new choir formed by recent newcomers from Africa.
“They’ve been working like mad to get it ready. I am so impressed,” said Warriner.
Workers were still pouring concrete this week for ramps to make the stage wheelchair accessible.
This will be the 40th year the Red Deer Cultural Heritage Society has put on local Canada Day celebrations, which will unfold from 10 a.m. with ethnic food booths, kids games and other entertainment. Festivities will wrap up with fireworks at 11:15 p.m.
As usual, there will be no parking available in the park on July 1, but buses will run regularly from the Memorial Centre.