The Dave Dunnet Community Theatre is building upon its burgeoning reputation as one of the premier performance venues in the capital region. The theatre, part of the new Oak Bay High School, has been officially up and running since mid-November, said theatre manager Steve Price. It’s named in honour of Dunnet, who taught band at the old Oak Bay High for 30 years.
“He was a fixture in the community and the school,” said Price, who has taught dramatic arts and musical theatre at the school for the past 12 years. “Dave did an amazing job of putting Oak Bay High on the map, so it was a very fitting choice to name the theatre after him.”
Price said although he had a fairly good idea the theatre would be well received, you never know quite what you have until you get people performing.
“Gauging the response as people come in, it’s been an overwhelming success,” he noted. “The feedback from performers regarding the acoustics, comfort and dimensions of the stage has be great so far.”
The theatre has hosted 25 performances, including five for the TD JazzFest.
Darryl Mar, artistic director for the Victoria Jazz Society, was quick to call the 440-seat theatre a great facility.
“It has wonderful sight lines, a large stage, acoustically very good with great sound,” Mar said. “It’s a much-needed asset to the community, Victoria and the TD JazzFest.”
Price said the audience response has been superlative as well. “People are finding there’s not a bad seat in the house,” he said. “People really appreciate the extra foot of legroom between the rows of seats, and it’s very accommodating for people with mobility issues as well.”
Concert promoter Marie Bachand has presented several concerts at the theatre and is equally impressed. “The venue is wonderful with great, awesome lighting and sound, very comfortable seating and the sight lines are phenomenal, best in the city,” she said.
One of the highlights for Price so far was a performance in mid-December commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of entertainment legend Frank Sinatra, which featured a big band and a vocalist. “It was a great opportunity to show what the theatre could do and how the audience would respond,” Price noted.
The Dave Dunnet Community Theatre has already booked 92 sessions next year, in addition to the 25 school-related performances.
“I’m pleased the community has jumped on board,” Price said. “The community theatre aspect is holding true to its mandate, and it’s absolutely gone beyond expectations. We didn’t anticipate such an uptake in the first year and that people would buy into it so quickly.”