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Rock Legends breaks nine-year-old Chemainus Theatre Festival box office record

Rock Legends ‘eclipsed’ a previous nine-year box office record at the Chemainus Theatre Festival.
Michael Clarke holds up the microphone as he’s backed up (L-R) by Aadin Church, Duff MacDonald and Michel LaFleche. (Mike Gregory Photo)

Rock Legends was a show so worthy of a standing ovation night after night this summer that one performance even caused a woman to applaud so hard the diamond fell out of her ring.

The summer musical blockbuster ‘eclipsed’ a previous nine-year record at the Chemainus Theatre Festival likely on the same day or the one following the rare astronomical event on Aug. 21.

Director Alex Mustakas’ sequel to Twist and Shout: The British Invasion sold 25,349 tickets which was 149 more than the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific in 2008.

“That’s a record that’s stood for nearly a decade and it’s that much more gratifying as it comes in our 25th season so we’re pretty excited,” managing director Randy Huber told the Chronicle. “Everything has to line up perfectly if this one is going to be broken down the road.”

Rock Legends was performed 101 times over 12 full weeks in Chemainus with many of the August performances sold out.

It follows a musical tribute format as late night television host Roy Solomon signs off after two decades on the air. Influential rock and roll acts from the 50s through to the 70s all perform, including the Beatles, Beach Boys, Everly Brothers and a few encores from Sonny & Cher.

“I think it really delivered on people’s expectations when they came to the theatre,” Huber said. “The power of nostalgia meant people just connected with the material so well.”

The diamond ring incident took place a couple weeks ago during a Sunday matinee and the woman called the theatre the next day to ask if the stone may have turned up.

“The box office person who took the call (on Monday) went straight into the theatre to the section where she was sitting and found the diamond,” said Huber.

His email to staff letting them know the box office record had been broken was appropriately titled ‘Milestones and Missing Stones.’

The majority of the actors who perform in Chemainus are from big centres like Vancouver and Toronto but have the opportunity to spend a summer on the island as part of the big summer musical - the longest running show on the Festival’s calendar followed by the Christmas performance.

“Chemainus has built up a good reputation as a great place to work and so there’s lots of interest,” Huber said. “We get inquiries from actors right across the country that are interested in coming to work here.”

About 10 per cent of ticket sales for Rock Legends was off Island, including four per cent from the United States and the rest from across Canada.

“We just want to thank the community and the region for its support,” Huber said. “The theatre’s not-for-profit and it can only flourish with the support of local businesses and the broader area so we’re just very grateful to be in a supportive place.”

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