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News Release

Centre firing on all cylinders less than year into new mandate
February 2008

February, 2008 – The New Year is exceeding all expectations at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts at the Saidye as a beaming Bryna Wasserman, Artistic Director, and Managing Director, David Moss, proudly highlighted what promises to be a remarkable month of programming at the Centre, including: The launch of the Academy of Performing Arts; the Canadian Premiere of Hirschfeld:The Magic of Performance; the world premiere of an all new musical, Houdini, The unveiling of the state of the art CinemaSpace; and hosting, for the first time ever, an event by Culture Montreal.

On June 1 2007, the Segal Centre for Performing Arts at the Saidye was officially launched with a new name and a commitment to actively support emerging professional artists and to develop innovative programming to foster the creativity and interest of our community’s youth in the performing arts.

Renovations to the current structure commenced in July and are now nearly complete. “It is always a cause for celebration when dreams are turned into reality,” Wasserman said, remarking on the final touches being made to the building’s renovations. “And to be able to open our doors and provide this kind of programming so early on in our mandate is truly beyond our wildest dreams,” she continued. Echoing Wasserman’s enthusiasm, Moss declared that “we are thrilled to welcome all in the community into this transformed space that is already bustling with people and creativity”.

The Centre recently launched its Academy of Performing Arts, welcoming young people to new courses in Music, Theatre, Media and Circus Arts taught by some of the finest arists and educators in the city. Moreover, student groups are attending specialized courses and dynamic educational programs such as the new Schulich at the Segal Educational Concert Series, presented in partnership with McGill University’s esteemed school of music. “I think it was a great learning experience for everyone involved, the expressions on the students’ faces as they listened to the band were priceless” said Professor Gordon Foote, Associate Dean of the Schulich School of Music. “ The (Studio) space is absolutely gorgeous,” he continued, “and its acoustics were fantastic for a jazz orchestra. I’m really happy that this concert series is happening and I know that many students will have their eyes and ears opened to the world of music as a result.”

Indeed, The Studio, the Centre’s new flexible, multi-purpose performance space, has already hosted new resident theatre company, Sidemart Theatrical Grocery, with the North American premiere of Trad, the Communauté Sépharade Unifiée de Quebec’s Rentrée Culturelle, a Jewish Public Library film festival, and most recently a breathtaking chamber music opera of The Dybbuk by Montréal ensemble, QAT, in collaboration with the City of Montréal. This month, as part of the festivities surrounding the premiere of Houdini, the Studio will host the Canadian premiere of Magic of Performance, a striking multi-media exhibition of the works by the twentieth century’s greatest caricaturist, Al Hirschfeld – most famous for his 75 year association with The New York Times.

Houdini, an all new stage musical, has its premiere at the Segal Theatre this month as well. Co-produced with The Montreal Highlights Festival and sponsored by Ernst and Young, Houdini showcases over twenty actors and six live musicians on stage and is a featured event in this year’s Festival. Telling the story of the rise of one of the twentieth century’s greatest entertainers, this large scale theatrical experience represents just the latest example of the Centre’s ongoing commitment to producing first class, English language professional theatre in Montreal "We are proud to have had the Segal Theatre as one of our partners since the Festival's inception, “ said Alain Simard, President and CEO of Equipe Spectra (the Festival’s producer). “This year, to help celebrate the launch of the new Segal Centre we are delighted that Houdini will be one of the Festival's featured attractions."

February also marks the launch of CinemaSpace, the Centre’s 77-seat, state-of-the-art new screening room, as it welcomes the prestigious Rendez-vous du Cinéma Québécois documentary film festival for a week of screenings. Specifically, from February 16th-21st, the Centre will present the ten finalists competing for the Alex and Ruth Dworkin prize for the Promotion of Tolerance Through Cinema.

The month long celebration of firsts for the Centre culminates when the Segal Centre will welcome Culture Montréal and its membership for a 5 à 7 on Thursday, February 28. “At each of our festive events, we invite our members to discover spaces that represent the cultural vitality of Montreal’s districts, explains Simon Brault, Chairman of Culture Montréal. To see inspiring projects emerge like the new Segal Centre is a confirmation that we are indeed in the throes of building the cultural metropolis of the 21st century that we envision and hope for. The building and the organization that inhabits it have a history and renewed mission that we want our members to discover.” The event will also give members and guests the opportunity receive follow-up information on the Rendez-vous novembre 2007 – Montréal, métropole culturelle and its 2007-2017 Action Plan.

“All this creative activity and seeing so many new, young faces entering the Centre is a blessing,” Wasserman concluded. “Leanor and Alvin Segal’s commitment to this city and the arts community, to this centre, its vision and mandate is truly extraordinary. Their example inspires us to keep believing wholeheartedly in what we do and to work tirelessly towards making dreams into reality.”