More than seven years after Edmonton’s iconic landmark burned down, the Roxy Theater is open again.
The public was invited to tour the new $12 million facility this weekend, and Jill Roszell, director of business development for Theater Network, which owns and operates the Roxy, said there was a lot of excitement .
“We’re thrilled to be back here,” Roszell said.
The Roxy started out as a movie theater in 1938, and was later converted into a performance hall in 1989.
When the fire broke out in 2015, residents, including Bart Mielczarek, were shocked.
Mielczarek, who lives nearby, said he remembers Tuesday morning in January when the building burned down. The power to his pad went out as he tried to make breakfast for his children.
“So we got out and we saw fire trucks and then flames and all that,” Mielczarek said. “When it burned down, it was like a big part [of the city] was missing.”
For years after the fire, the 124th Street lot sat empty. However, in 2019 work began to restore the theater to its former glory.
In the end, the project took a little longer than expected.
“We ran into the notorious supply chain issues, as you can imagine, primarily with a lot of our equipment,” Roszell said. “But we’re actually lucky to have been able to keep the cinemas running.”
While nearly all of the old building was destroyed in the fire, Roszell said they wanted to be sure to incorporate some of the old with the new.
“I’ll tell you, we hid a few pieces of the old sign in one of the walls to make sure we had something that carried over from the old space,” she said.
Although Theater Network was keen to preserve the essence of the old theater, they also included some improvements.
There are two theaters in the new building. One is named in honor of a donor, Nancy Power.
“We also added a rehearsal room and a rooftop terrace,” Roszell said. “So we have four places to potentially host shows in this new facility.”
Roszell said the changes represent a new chapter for the historic building.
Jacqueline Wallis, who visited the new building, appreciates the effort to preserve the atmosphere of the old space.
“It’s a new theater, isn’t it? But there’s a really great feel to it like the old theater,” Wallis said.
Mielczarek, who also took part in the tour, agrees. He said he felt a sense of continuity in the Nancy Power Theater which was reminiscent of the old building.
He hopes the reopening will invigorate the area by attracting more people to nearby bars and restaurants.
He plans to return at the end of the month to see Cliff Cardinal’s account of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
Other upcoming events at the theater include NextFest, as well as select Fringe Festival events.