Arts Club Theatre

The Arts Club Theatre, Vancouver, opened in February 1964 with a production called Light Up the Sky. The theatre was established by Otto Lowy, Yvonne Firkin and others on the second floor of a gospel hall at 1181 Seymour Street in Vancouver. It featured a flexible seating space accommodating 125-200 persons.

Through the 1960s the Arts Club presented about 6 shows annually, most of which were foreign, light comedies. Bill Millerd, appointed director in 1972, initiated year-round operations. Millerd achieved successes with a wide variety of plays: the classic Journey's End; Griffiths' Comedians starring Brent Carver; and a spectacularly long run with the musical Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.

In 1979 Millerd opened a 450-seat theatre on Granville Island and, in 1983, acquired a third space next door, the 250-seat Revue Theatre. Later the old gospel hall on Seymour was demolished.

With 3 theatres, Millerd has successfully catered to varied audiences. The Revue stage has housed long runs of varied musicals, among these Sex Tips for Modern Girls, Angry Housewives and 20 months of Ain't Misbehavin'. Comedy of Errors and School for Wives, both directed by Morris Panych and designed by Ken Macdonald, were among the theatre's successful classics. Two Canadian comedies, Sherman Snukal's Talking Dirty and John Lazarus's The Late Blumer, had long runs.

The Arts Club has nurtured the writing careers of Canadian playwrights Sherman Snukal and Morris Panych. This commitment to Canadian work has been reflected in productions of plays written by Michel Marc Bouchard, Brad Fraser, Tomson Highway, Wendy Lill, George F. Walker, and others. In the fall of 1998 the Arts Club took over the Stanley, a restored 650-seat movie theatre, opening successfully with Swing, followed by Hamlet. Meanwhile, Theatresports became resident at the Revue Theatre. In 1999 Millerd operated 2 theatres, each with a 4-play season.