Tom helped Metro for over 47 years. He was found most frequently providing liquid refreshments in the Metro upstairs lounge. He loved the company of patrons and the groups of actors that hung out with him in the lounge, often into the wee hours. He’d often create cast drawings that got passed around for signatures at the end of a show run. Around Christmas he’d share them along with ones of pantomimes all the way back to Metro’s first.
Tom shared our passion by appearing in Metro shows. Every now and then a choice role came up in a production that needed a special talent, Tom was ready to jump into the breach. He was our candy man in the productions of Mother Goose as well as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, the boy in the gallery for It Give Me Great Pleasure, Colonel Protheroe in Murder At The Vicarage, and the sea captain in And Then There Were None. Tom could also be counted on to help with the many less glamorous jobs, with a smile, when ever he was not manning the lounge.
IN MEMORY OF
John Roy Duncan
1930 – 2022
to Metro Theatre
and Our Community
• Johnny was responsible for saving Metro Theatre in its early days. Without John Duncan there would be no Metro.
• The years of creating a culture of happiness was one of the key pillars on which Metro grew.
• Johnny contributed decades of work with the Board, as an Executive and Volunteer.
• Johnny directed 51 shows during his career at Metro.
• Johnny acted, directed, produced, etc. contributing to 311 shows. Take a second to absorb how that extends out to thousands of performances, rehearsals and auditions.
A Fond Farewell to Sean Ullmann
It is with regret that we say not “goodbye” but “au revoir” to our dear friend and long-time volunteer and staff member at Metro. She is stepping down as head of our costume department due to health problems but will still very much be a part of the Metro family.
Family is what it’s been all about for Sean as she and her mother, Margaret, were among the groups who raised funds to buy the theatre in the 60s and remodel it into what it is today. So she has more history with Metro than anyone other than Les Erskine and Rob Moser who were also part of the Brat Pack and who went on to careers in the movie industry.
Sean went into banking and when she retired from that, she became Metro’s book keeper, keeping track of the myriad of expenses and revenue that were generated day-to-day by an increasingly large, complex business.
In addition to this job, she also found time to stage-manage, both at Metro and other companies like Royal City Musical Theatre. She was wonderful at this job, being meticulous in her attention to detail and a powerful presence backstage. No one messed around when Sean was at the helm!
She was also known for doing hair and make-up (giving actors free haircuts backstage!) and being a dedicated props mistress, even making wonderful food for sometimes hungry actors to eat onstage.
Throughout all these other tasks that she took on, one of her great fortes was costuming. Not only is she an amazing tailor and seamstress, but she has also been known to put countless miles on her odometer as she searched the city for just the right item to be worn onstage. She has also maintained Metro’s costume collection, battling infestations of moths in the fur coats, damp in the costume room and actors who decide to keep their costumes at the end of a run!
Alison Schamberger, Metro’s President, 2008-
Valerie Dearden, Metro’s President, 2005-7
John Hedgecock, Metro’s President, 2002-07
John Crittenden, Metro’s President, 2000-2002
Alison Tolhill, Metro’s President, 1996-2000
Brian Leonard, Metro’s President, 1995-1996
Judi Smith, Metro’s President, 1994-95
Len Gribble, Metro’s President, 1993-94
Brian Leonard, Metro’s President, 1992-93
Kevin Murawsky, Metro’s President, 1991-92
Stephanie Nolin, Metro’s President, 1988-91
George Fairclough, Metro’s President, 1987-88
In March of 1988 Metro’s Oak Street scene shop came on line. Designed with the help of Dick Bylin, it provided needed space. The downstairs allowed set construction and storage. The upstairs provided rehearsal space, plus costume and prop management.
George sorted out seven years of missed filings to recover Metro’s status with the Registrar of Societies. Restoring the business side of theatre gave life back to Metro.
Alex George, Metro’s President, 1986-87
Johnny Duncan, Metro’s President, 1978-86
(Please see Johnny’s In Memoriam above)
David Reynolds, Metro’s President, 1975-78
David wore many hats at Metro over the years: actor, writer, director, board member and President. In many ways David’s first love was writing and he wrote several plays. He directed a musical “A Little Night Music and many plays.
Strongly influenced by Ruth Cunningham, one of Metro’s original founders, his focus was to serve as a viable bridge between amateur and professional theatre.
Diane Ricardo, Metro’s President, 1974-75
A. Don Pool, Metro’s President, 1967-74
Gordon K. Allan, Metro’s President, 1964-67
Laurence S. Drummond, Metro’s President, 1962-64
Metro’s Honorary Life President – Donald C. Cromie
Don was the principal Benefactor and Honorary Life President of the Society. His generosity and vision paved the path for Metro to become a reality and continue to flourish for decades. The dream of a Regional Training Center that supported learning by doing was dear to his heart and a focus of his actions and enthusiasm.
Like many things in life, timing is significant. In 1963 he completed the sale of his Vancouver newspaper, The Sun, to FP Publications. Exactly at the time Metro needed his help. It kicked off with March 8th, 1963 Sun editorial that concluded with “This alliance of businessmen and the Vancouver area’s united amateur players under a permanent roof will almost certainly become a landmark on our cultural scene.” Just when we needed him most.
Ruth Cunningham, Eleanor Heath and Jack Richards
In August, 1961, during a lull in a regional drama festival, Ruth Cunningham, Eleanor Heath and Jack Richards germinated the idea of providing a central home for amateur theatre in the Vancouver area. It would be a home for ambitious theatre people to work side by side with competent professionals and learn by doing. These three instigators joined together with the nine existing local amateur theatre groups and others with similar foresight to form the Metropolitan Co-operative Theatre Society by the spring of 1962. There simply was no satisfactorily outfitted facility available to them. The only place suitable for live theatre was the civic built Playhouse at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The cost of rental and union help was well beyond the means of local theatre to afford and the enforced union back stage help eliminated all those who enjoyed back stage work or non acting jobs associated with live theatre. While make do environments had been used they represented dangerous work places not designed for live theatre. Engaged participation and audiences had to travel to other towns. If little theatre does not survive, the lean ranks of Canadian artists will become even leaner.
Widely recognized, at the time, were the three pillars of a successful live theatre, “competent business management, a union free house and competent business management”. Sound businessmen joined both the need and the enthusiasm. The society acquired the old Marpole movie house for $30,000. Thompson, Berwick and Pratt were hired to redesign ‘a compact 400 seat theatre with full production facilities able to showcase two seasons a year’. Net value of the completed building was expected to be $150,000. Vancouver taxpayers had already realized that their investment in The Playhouse had resulted in ” a White elephant with a dark stage”. With highly-respected business people of Vancouver joining Metro, the credibility to secure financing got Metro off the ground based on, “for the first time amateur theatre is in the hands of people with intelligence and business ability, not arty crafters” and availability of such a diverse group of arty crafters delivered the drive and skills to “showcase theatre”.