By Nicole Fitzgerald
Eleven years ago, Rocky Mountaineer officials placed a business proposal ad in a Kamloops newspaper. Local restaurants couldn’t handle the volume of train passengers stopping for one overnight stay on the two-day train trip from Vancouver to Alberta. An alternate form of entertainment was needed.
Rocky Mountaineer offered to front an individual or organization $100,000 to produce a dinner theatre experience.
No one accepted. Mountaineer officials instead took it upon themselves to produce their own show.
Now, more than a decade later, the Two River Junction Dinner and Musical Revue hosts upwards of 37,000 patrons over its six-month performance season. Like the restaurants that came before it, the show that grew from a 200-seat tent to the now 450-seat cultural centre, still couldn’t accommodate audience demand. This year the Great Canadian Lumberjack Show was added to the playbill welcoming an additional 200 guests to the theatre-going experience.
Scour the newspaper classifieds in Whistler and no such ad is found. The Whistler Mountaineer and Rocky Mountaineer experiences are literally mountains apart. The duration which train travelers stay, the type of tourist the rail service attracts and the number of activities offered differs for each route.
However, three Whistler organizations — MY Millennium Place, Whistler Theatre Project and Whistler Museum and Archives — see the train service and increased visitors leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games as an opportunity to introduce a historically-based musical revue — brushing off the dry read of dusty history books and bringing Whistler’s past to life through theatre and music.
The project, entitled Living History in Whistler, is in the preliminary stages of development. A writer was hired to flesh out a concept of the proposed show. Organizers won’t disclose the writer’s name, only that the individual comes with impressive credits.
“We are a loose working group at the moment,” explained Dennis Marriot, MY Place general manager. “We are at the point of let’s put some flesh on this concept and see if it goes anywhere.”
Marriot said the revue would cater to those looking for soft adventure. Not everyone faring the Sea to Sky climb is looking to hurl themselves off the bungee bridge or fly above treetops on a Ziptrek tour, he reasons.