My friend and former co-worker from the theatre contacted me today to rant about a new name change for our old stomping ground. Apparently, the former O'Keefe Centre in Toronto (for 36 years) and now former Hummingbird Centre (for the past 11 years) will now be the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
Here's the sad tale.
"Did you know that the Hummingbird is now the Sony Centre???" my friend wrote to me. "When is this corporate sponsorship nonsense going to end! It's just confusing. A name is a name! Rant over."
"That is retarded," I replied. "I know that isn't PC but it's a Maritimer thing and in this case, appropriate! And no one soap boxes quite like you - it's one of my favourite things about you."
"Thanks, but you shouldn't encourage me Julia... Hummingbird was 5 million, Sony- 10 million; I'm making a stand: I won't take less than 11 million to change my daughter's name!
...and to continue, I know exactly what improvements they should make with the $10 million:
First: Hire back Joe Hedgedus as General Manager. (Julia's notes in parentheses: he was our Assistant Manager who was a jolly good fellow, let go under a warped Nazi regime.)
Second: Reinstate me in the captain Usher position but with a salary a little bit better than what I make now, but I still expect to only work 4 hours a night.
Third: Hire back all ex employees at whatever salary they need.
Fourth: Give the ballet and opera such good rates that they will leave the new Opera House and return and come back. I can't work at a job where Lord Of Dance and bad productions of Grease are the only shows to watch.
Fifth: All ushers get the whole show off like in the old days. The patrons can look after themselves...
Sixth: Julia always has dibs on Highside passdoor! (this was the stairwell/hallway that led from the lobby to the dressing room/backstage area. I worked that a lot because I was good at holding over-eager well-wishers after the show until we got the all-clear from the stage manager. Also, while the show was on, I could listen to the music and write my books! And my friend used to bring us both a coffee while we sat and chatted. Sigh -those were the days...)
Seventh: That Star Trek fan that married the girl in Australia cannot have the Passdoor ever!
Eighth: Gordo Lee is promoted to House Manager. (He was the longest-serving usher on staff - and a wonderful man. He may actually still work there!)
9th: David Colmer must work doors every night. (David complained incessantly about one of the most enjoyable jobs ever conceived by humankind. He hated working the front doors.)
10th: Charles, John and George are on insert duty forever." (These were a trio of Oceans Eleven wanna bees. My friend and I did not get along with any one of them on any level. Insert duty means inserting those loose pieces of paper you get in programs that show that evening's corporate sponsors or changes in casting. Each usher would have to insert about 10-12 boxes of 50 programs each.)
"I'm wiping the tears away," I told him, "and wheezing from laughing too hard... I agree with everything you said except that I've been to the Four Seasons and it's SO magnificent. Maybe we could just take that new place over with all your recommendations."
Projected new theatre complex by architect Daniel Libeskind
Note the tiny wee Hummingbird Centre at the lower left of the picture! My friends in the top picture are standing at the stage door where all the ushers and food & beverage staff punched in our time cards. It's also where the performers entered, where the stage door guy and an usher had to check for passes for all performers entering the building. Sometimes a difficult job if the performer was a diva.
The friend who contacted me is wearing the grey shirt/black pants. The picture was taken about 10 years ago. And the picture of the guy behind the counter is our wonderful friend who always gave us free coffee fill-ups, always with a smile and we both miss him a lot. Wonder what he's up to...?