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Theatre names renovated stage after Mitchell Print-ready version

by Chantal Eustace
Saskatoon StarPhoenix
July 10, 2004

Joni Mitchell, described as the yang to Bob Dylan's yin, will soon have her own stage smack dab in the middle of Saskatoon's coffee row.

The newly renovated Broadway Theatre stage will be called the Joni Mitchell Stage, in honour of Mitchell's musical accomplishments.

Like the emerging artists who perform at the Broadway Theatre, Mitchell used to play next door at the Louis Riel Coffee House (now Calories) before she became an international star in the '70s.

"She agreed immediately," said Marsha Day, of the Friends of the Broadway Theatre. Day spoke to Mitchell at the end of May when the former Saskatoon resident was in town visiting family. Day described Mitchell as "down to earth and easy to speak to."

According to Day, the singer expressed interest in attending the unveiling ceremony in the fall.

"She doesn't sing on-stage live anymore," said Day. "But she said she'd be happy to attend something in the theatre."

The new stage underwent $1.4 million in renovations during the past 10 years, funded by the Saskatchewan government's Centenary Capital Fund. It is equipped with heating and electrical upgrades, a new roof and new dressing rooms. Recently, the Kinsmen Club of Saskatoon donated money for new washrooms in the lower level lounge. And future plans include upgraded sound and cinema equipment along with a centralized ticketing system in the box office.

"We want the Broadway Theatre to be the catalyst in helping our emerging talent in Saskatoon get their start," said Day. "That's why we're honouring Joni Mitchell, because she's an inspiration to everyone."

In the past, Mitchell has been involved in many local projects, including work with the Mendel Art Gallery. In 2000 she had art displayed in the gallery for a blockbuster exhibit and this year she agreed to lend her name to its capital campaign as an honorary co-chair.

Earlier this year, another group went public with its idea for a cultural centre bearing Mitchell's name on the Gathercole site, likely to house a performance theatre and a room of mementos and photographs about her musical history. In May, Mitchell told The Star Phoenix: "If the town would warrant that much Joni Mitchell, I don't know." She then added she was "honoured."

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Added to Library on July 11, 2004. (1930)

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