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Theatre Under the Stars : the Hilker years Sutherland, Richard 1993

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THEATRE UNDER THE STARS:THE HILKER YEARSbyRICHARD SUTHERLANDB.A., The University of Western Ontario, 1968A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDepartment of Theatre and FilmWe accept this thesis as conformingTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAJuly 1993© Richard Sutherland, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of^ d The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate c2^/ c/c/ DE-6 (2/88)ABSTRACTFor nearly a quarter-century, from 1940 through 1963,Vancouver's Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) mounted annualsummer seasons of musical theatre in Malkin Bowl, a convertedbandshell in Stanley Park. By the early 1950s, TUTS, now afully-professional company, had become an enormous popular andfinancial success, attracting crowds of up to 25,000 per week.For various reasons, the company closed down in 1963, yet soingrained in Vancouver's cultural fabric had TUTS become, thatin 1980 an amateur organization re -appropriated the name forits own summer musical productions in Malkin Bowl. Despite itsacknowledged importance in Canadian theatre history, verylittle research has been devoted to this remarkable company.The purpose of this study, therefore, is to document the earlyhistory of TUTS, in particular the years 1940 through 1949when TUTS was directly funded by the Vancouver Board of Parksand Recreation and dominated by the colourful, if somewhaterratic, personality of its general manager, Gordon Hilker.Material for the thesis was obtained primarily throughsources located at the City of Vancouver Archives,iisupplemented by newspaper clippings and by personalinterviews. Archival matter included programs, handbills,photographs, and Park Board records, especially minute booksand correspondence files. This study will examine thecircumstances leading to the creation and subsequentdevelopment of TUTS as a civic enterprise. Although the workis designed to be comprehensive, certain topics receivespecial attention: the nature of the programming; theevolution and training of Canadian talent; the development ofa professional company; political factionalism in the electedPark Board; and the relationship between Bilker and the ParkBoard which varied from mutual admiration to mutual loathing.Particularly analyzed are the pivotal events of 1949 thatresulted in a complete change of ownership and management.iiiTABLE OF CONTENTSABSTRACT  ^iiACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ^  vCHAPTER ONE:^SETTING THE STAGE: 1936-40 ^ 1CHAPTER TWO:^THE WAR YEARS: 1940-45 ^ 25CHAPTER THREE:^POST-WAR: 1945-50 ^ 62CHAPTER FOUR:^EPILOGUE ^ 111LIST OF WORKS CONSULTED ^ 121APPENDIX A:^PRODUCTIONS: 1936-1949 ^ 126APPENDIX B:^ANNUAL PROFIT (LOSS),^1940-1949 ^ 128APPENDIX C:^PHOTOGRAPHS ^ 129ivACKNOWLEDGEMENTSAlthough the people who assisted in my research are far toonumerous to mention by name, I am deeply grateful to them all.It would be an injustice, however, to ignore the courteous andattentive staff of the City of Vancouver Archives for theirunflagging patience and assistance. Above all I owe a specialdebt to Professor Denis Johnston of the University of BritishColumbia: his support, encouragement, and guidance were vitalto the completion of this manuscript.vCHAPTER 1SETTING THE STAGE: 1936-40For twenty-three years, from 1940 to 1963, Vancouver's TheatreUnder the Stars, commonly known as "TUTS," was the primarysummer attraction in British Columbia's lower mainland. Itsannual seasons of outdoor musical theatre were so successfulthat by 1950 TUTS was a Canadian rarity--a fully professionaltheatre company whose entire cast and crew were represented byprofessional associations. Financial difficulties forced thedissolution of TUTS in 1963, yet for much of its history thecompany not only thrived but served as a training ground forCanadian performers, many of whom forged world-class careers.Although TUTS began life at Malkin Bowl in 1940, it had a longperiod of gestation that began during Vancouver's GoldenJubilee festivities of 1936.Vancouverites flocked to Stanley Park during the 1930s.Especially popular were free outdoor music concerts, sponsoredby civic-minded corporations such as the British Columbia12Electric Railway Company.' The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra,for example, was a regular attraction at the new MalkinMemorial Bowl, constructed in 1934 through the generosity offormer Vancouver Mayor W. H. Malkin. Situated just south of aprevious bandstand, it could lure enormous crowds: a concertfeaturing noted baritone John Charles Thomas in 1939 drew anaudience estimated at 15,000. 2 That Vancouverites patronizedStanley Park in such numbers should come as no surprise. Thesewere the "dirty thirties," a time of high unemployment, lowwages and limited prospects; a first-class caretaker workingfor the Vancouver Park Board made twelve dollars less a monthin 1938 than he did in 1931. 3 Stanley Park no doubt was asoothing balm for those troubled times, particularly when mostevents were free--and even special attractions rarely costmore than twenty-five cents.And the times were troubled. In the spring of 1935, Vancouverwas in turmoil. Unemployed workers who had been assigned tovarious relief camps in British Columbia rebelled againsttheir conditions and, urged on by labour and left-wingelements, surged into Vancouver looking for relief. Mayor G.1 "'Bohemian Girl' Sunday Symphony," The Vancouver Sun 21Aug. 1937: 7.2 Stanley Bligh, "Noted Vocalists Charm 15,000 in StanleyPark," Sun 3 Aug. 1939: 5.3 City of Vancouver Archives [hereinafter CVA], Board ofParks and Recreation [hereinafter Park Board], Section A,Series 64, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, 1912-54, Loc.48-B-2, file 1, "Pay Scale, 1938."3G. ("Jerry") McGeer, however, refused to commit even a pennyfrom the city's coffers. On April 23, after disturbances indowntown Vancouver, McGeer read the Riot Act to a massgathering of the unemployed milling about Victory Square. 4 Todefuse tension in the city, McGeer eventually shipped the menout to the East on boxcars, thereby initiating the "On toOttawa" trek. 5Partially to offset the negative effects of the Depression,Vancouver was preparing to celebrate its Golden Jubilee in1936. In less than fifty years Vancouver had sprung from ascattering of tents to a centre of commerce and shipping witha population of a quarter-million, 6 yet it suffered aninferiority complex. Vancouverites felt they were regarded byother Canadians as either roughhouse lumberjacks or idletenants of a pristine wilderness. The members of the VancouverGolden Jubilee Society, established and backed by theVancouver City Council, launched a crusade to change thatimage. They wanted to establish Vancouver as a tourist meccain order to attract much-needed dollars, especially from southof the border. The Special Committee that had been establishedin the summer of 1934 to consider the details of the program4 Pierre Berton, The Great Depression: 1929-1939 (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1990) 306-309.5 Ibid. 312-313.6 Telephone interview, Vancouver Public Library[hereinafter VPL], Sociology Department, 6 Dec. 1991.4was able to recommend a few months later that a month-longfestivity be held, to begin on Dominion Day, 1 July 1936. Itsagenda, centred in Stanley Park, would include symphonicmusic, Shakespeare (and other plays), public speakers andrelated activities.' Partly because Mayor McGeer, who was alsoa local member of Parliament, hinted that some financial aidcould be expected from Ottawa, the committee's plans quicklyescalated. By September 1935 preparations were being made fora three-month festival with the object of attracting onemillion tourists. 8In September 1935, E. V. Young was appointed chairman of thesubcommittee in charge of dramatic entertainment. 9 By thistime he had already submitted a proposal to stage an outdoorproduction of A Midsummer Night's Dream;" he was, inaddition, contemplating other outdoor spectacles, such as anoperatic rendition of Hiawatha, and a Gilbert and Sullivanmusical.7 CVA, Vancouver Golden Jubilee Society, Add.MSS 177,Vol. 1, File 2, Vancouver Golden Jubilee Committee Minutes,1934-1936, 16 Nov. 1934.8 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 1, File 1, Minutes, 1934-36, 14Sep. 1935 and 15 Nov. 1935.9 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 1, File 3, Secretary-Manager'sReport, 6 Sep. 1935.'o ^Add.MSS 177, Vol. 1, File 3, Report of theSecretary-Manager to the Executive Council, 13 Sep. 1935.5Ernest Vanderpoel Young (1878-1955), or "EeVee" as his friendsand associates referred to him, was no stranger to Vancouvertheatre, though his roots lay in Great Britain. He developedan abiding interest in drama during his childhood, and by thetime Young graduated from King's College, London, with adegree in engineering, 11 he was already making a name forhimself as a promising West End actor. A protégé of the famousactor-manager George Alexander, Young worked with some ofEngland's leading theatre figures. 12 Following his marriage in1909, however, he abandoned the stage in favour ofengineering, and in 1911 left England for Vancouver where heaccepted a post as manager of a north shore iron foundry. 13Though Vancouver must have seemed far-removed from the glamourand excitement of the West End, opportunities abounded for aperson of Young's training and skill. He gradually assertedhimself in Vancouver's nascent theatre scene, and in 1921helped form the Vancouver Little Theatre Association; for thenext ten years he worked with this group as a producer andactor. His plummy British accent also guaranteed him a placein radio. By the 1940s his "wonderfully kind and expressiven "E. V. Young Dies; Stage, Radio Actor," Sun 2 April1955: 2.12 "The Geisha," Newsclipping, 6 Sep. 1940, CVA, MS15,662, (Theatre Under the Stars).13 CVA, E. V. Young, Add.MSS 1064, Biography.6voice" embraced a national audience as host and narrator of"Eventide" and "Vesper Hour". 14Shortly after his appointment, Young expressed confidence thatVancouver's outdoor productions "will write something new indramatic history." 15 A Drama Subcommittee report to theExecutive Committee elaborated:He [Young] outlined a suggestion to rehearse twocasts, one to be chosen for its dramatic voicequalities, the other to be chosen for its histrionicability; the speaking cast to handle all vocalparts, the other cast to act the pantomime, thelines of which would be amplified by a hiddenmicrophone. 16His proposed innovation was, to say the least, unique.Although other outdoor productions, such as those in London'sRegent's Park, had used electronic amplification, thetechnology was so primitive that a battery of microphones hadto be erected on stage, severely restricting the actor'smovements, and (one must suppose) obstructing the view fromthe audience. Young's technique not only allowed performers14 C. Swanson, "A Canadian Institution," letter, The DailyProvince [Vancouver] 16 May 1955: 6.1.5 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 1, File 1, Minutes, 14 Sep.1935.16 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 1, File 3, Minutes of theMeeting of the Executive Committee, 18 Sep. 1935.7freedom of movement; it gave the audience an unimpaired viewof the stage while the text was broadcast over loudspeakers.Of course it meant that the speaking cast had to be rigorouslysynchronized with the actors, and a technique devised forcuing the speakers. Young's radio experience no doubt came inhandy: with the actors grouped about a microphone, Young wouldact as a conductor, peeping at the stage action through acurtain, and cuing the vocalists with his hands."Young managed to convince the Golden Jubilee executive of hisplan's merit, and early in October 1935, final approval wasgiven for a production of Hiawatha and A Midsummer Night's Dream. The next task was to assemble the local talent. Areadancing schools were canvassed, as was the ShakespeareanSociety, formed in 1916 to spread the appreciation ofShakespeare through lecture and performance. 18 No doubt theunstinting willingness of this latter group to participate inthe Dream contributed mightily to its success. Bothproductions were cast with amateurs only, in keeping with thevolunteer philosophy of the Jubilee Committee. Even had itwanted to, the Committee would have been hard-pressed to hireprofessional stage actors in Vancouver. This was the heyday ofamateur theatre in Canada; to be amateur, in fact, wasprobably more respectable than to be professional.17 "Unseen Voices," Province 14 Aug. 1940: 8.n CVA, Vancouver Shakespeare Society, Add.MSS 343,Constitution [undated].8Although each outdoor production comprised two complete castsas well as a corps de ballet and a full orchestra, conductorAllard DeRidder and Young both agreed that local amateurtalent could carry the shows, supplemented by a scattering ofprofessional musicians. 19 In the participatory spirit of theproject (and no doubt to drum up interest and enthusiasm),Young prepared excerpts for province-wide auditions to beconducted early in 1936. By late November 1935, he reportedthat he was "receiving applications from tryouts from all overthe province." 20 This effort by Young reflected the overalldesire of the Jubilee Committee to involve the public in itscelebrations. One full-page newspaper advertisementcaricatured Lord Kitchener's famous enlistment poster: underhis stern face and accusing finger was a bold logo reading "TOARMS! TO ARMS!," but the message was peaceful enough--itmerely encouraged Vancouverites to take part in the Jubilee,and to send their suggestions to the committee. fl Young's ownimportance to the success of the festival was soonacknowledged by the Jubilee Committee: as of 1 January 1936 he19 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol 1, File 3, Minutes of GeneralCommittee, 13 Nov. 1935.20 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 1, File 3, Meeting of GeneralCommittee, 27 Nov. 1935.21 "To Arms, To Arms," advertisement, Province 14 Dec.1935: 5.9was retained to supervise drama operations at a salary of$150.00 per month. 22The fare had been selected and the search for talent was underway, but still to be settled was the location. At a meeting inNovember 1934, it was assumed that the open-air productionswould take place at the "Stanley Park Bowl". 23 As the scope ofthe celebration grew, however, and plans for a huge outdoorspectacle called the "Pageant of Vancouver" began to unfold(in addition to Young's productions), the Malkin Bowl stagemust have been considered inadequate. By January 1936, designsmaterialized for a grandstand and stage at the Brockton PointOval. At a cost of $35,000 (out of a total Jubilee budget of$250,000), a 4,000-seat grandstand was erected, with portablebleachers for 2,000 more. 24 The Oval at Brockton Point hadtraditionally been used for sporting events, but now, insidethe circular track, the "largest outdoor revolving stage inthe world" 25 was constructed. Designed to rival the cinema inits capacity for spectacle, the stage wheel had a diameter ofeighty feet, and contained four different settings. The22 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 1, File 4, Finance CommitteeMinutes, 10 Jan. 1936.23 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 1, File 2, General Committee,Minutes, 16 Nov. 1934.24 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 1, File 4, Letter from GoldenJubilee Committee to Mr. J. K. Matheson, 5 Jan. 1935 [sic-thedate should read 1936].25 "Largest Revolving Stage in World for Jubilee Pageant,"Province 2 June 1936: 5.10Pageant itself contained fifteen different scenes; while onequadrant was facing the grandstand, stage crews could changethe set in the rear. 26 In the evening, with the sun settingbehind the stage, the ambience must have been charming. Aphotograph of the opening-day ceremony taken from thegrandstand shows the circular stage, and beyond it, a view ofBurrard Inlet with the north shore mountains in thebackground. 27 Unlike Malkin Bowl, however, the location lacksa natural funnel to contain or focus the sound, so that evenwith amplification, the acoustics were probably terrible.Significantly, on 3 Aug. 1936, a newspaper advertisementpromoting A Midsummer Night's Dream for the first timereferred to theatre being staged "Under the Stars" . 28 Thefollowing evening the Dream opened a four-night run at theBrockton Oval to great critical acclaim. One review gushed:"it is difficult to refer to the production without resort tosuperlatives." 28 Disregarding the boosterism that seemed toenvelop newspaper reviews of the time, Dream was undoubtedlythe "hit" of the Stanley Park festivities--to the extent that26 "Start Being Made on Huge Jubilee Stage," Newsclipping,16 June 1936, CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 6.27 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 11, "Vancouver: Fifty Years aCity."28 "Tomorrow Night the Greatest Show Ever Staged Under theStars in Canada," advertisement, The Vancouver News-Herald 3Aug. 1936: 8.29 "Shakesperean [sic] Pastoral Play Great Success," News-Herald 5 Aug. 1936: 1.11two additional performances were added. 3° Attending Dream hada telling effect on crusty Major Matthews, the archivist forthe city of Vancouver. In a note handwritten more than a yearafter the production he wrote, "Midsummer Night's Dream wasthe most perfect event of our Golden Jubilee. It was abeautiful dream; its memory lingers." 31Less than a week after A Midsummer Night's Dream closed itsinitial run, Taylor Coleridge's sentimental opera Hiawatha opened for three performances. Really more a pageant than anopera, it is based on Longfellow's epic poem and consists ofthree scenes: "Hiawatha's Wedding-Feast", "The Death ofMinnehaha", and "Hiawatha's Departure". Nevertheless, thespectacle must have been impressive; a full orchestra, a 100 -voice choir, and 200 dancers augmented the soloists. 32 LikeDream, Hiawatha seems to have been an ideal vehicle for theopen-air splendour of the Oval. Sitting in the present-daybleachers that have replaced the original grandstand, theStanley Park Totem Poles are clearly visible to the right ofwhere the stage would have been. Reviews, however, were ratherlukewarm, and although the grandstand was filled for opening30 "More Midsummer Nights Arranged in Stanley Park,"Province 15 Aug. 1936: 23.m "Vancouver's Pastoral Plays", CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 6,Aug. 1937.32 "The Beautiful Production Hiawatha," advertisement,News-Herald 12 Aug. 1936: 8.12night, 33 the run seems to have been less successful thanDream. 34 Like the Shakespeare play, Hiawatha had a doublecast, but with a difference. In Dream the speakers werehidden, but in Hiawatha the singers were likely in open viewof the audience in order to follow the conductor and theorchestra. Unfortunately, because documentation for theseproductions is scanty, their staging can only be conjectured.Through a combination of circumstances, Young's productionswere nearly cancelled entirely. Revenues for the first fewweeks of the festival had fallen far below expectations, andthe Golden Jubilee was facing a substantial deficit. WhileYoung entered the final phase of rehearsals, the Societyexecutive seriously debated cutting some of the costlier itemsfrom the Jubilee program. Not until July 28, less than a weekbefore Dream was scheduled to open, did the Board decide toproceed with events as planned. 35 The Vancouver Golden JubileeSociety, a group of enthusiastic amateurs, lacked not only theexpertise to run a major festival, but proved the futility ofrule by committee. Sorely missing was someone with theauthority and experience to guide the Jubilee throughuncharted waters. Financial accountability, budgetaryn "Hiawatha Lives Again At Stanley Park Oval," Province 12 Aug. 1936: 6.34 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 3, File 7, Financial Statement,10 Nov. 1936.35 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 3, File 3, Board of DirectorsMinutes, 28 July 1936.13controls, and estimates of expected revenue were wildlyhaphazard. For example, the pageant "Romance of Vancouver,"which cost $15,000 to produce (a figure that in current termsseems astronomical given the amateur cast), had been expectedto provide $10,000 in revenue. 36 Incredibly, the final auditshowed box-office receipts generated less than $1,400. 37 Asfor Young's creations, Hiawatha cost $2,800 to produce andgrossed only $250, 39 while Dream cost nearly $4,000 andreturned only $800." To reconcile the incongruity of thesefigures is almost impossible. How could the production ofDream, so popular that two additional performances werescheduled, generate only $800 in box-office? Ticket pricesranged from ten cents (for children) to fifty cents (for acovered grandstand seat); 41 if we assume for argument that theaverage ticket sold for twenty-five cents, only 3,245customers could have attended all six shows--an average offewer than 550 bodies for each performance in a grandstand36 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 2, File 2, Budget of EstimatedRevenues and Expenditures, 11 April 1936.37 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 3, File 7, Memorandum from Mr.W. J. Barrett-Lennard, 5 Dec. 1936.38 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 3, File 7, Fifth PreliminaryBudget Of Estimated Revenues and Expenditures, 1 July to 7Sep. 1936.m CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 3, File 7, Financial Statement,10 Nov. 1936.40 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 3, File 7, Memorandum from Mr.W. J. Barrett-Lennard, 5 Dec. 1936.41 "Tonight, Brockton Point, 8:15 p.m.," advertisement,Province 4 Aug. 1936: 7.14that seated 6,000. Not calculated in the final audit, however,were the Golden Jubilee "Membership Tickets" that sold for onedollar each, and that entitled the holder to "one performanceat Stanley Park" . 42 Unfortunately, no one could agree on howmany were sold. License to peddle these tickets had beengranted to a concessionaire whose methods of accountingappeared to be as suspect as the Society's. Indeed, the wholematter ended up in litigation when the city decided to sue theconcessionaires for fraud. 43Contributing to the confusion was the local press. Bothpreceding and during the Jubilee, area newspapers actedlargely as unpaid publicity agents for the committee; glowingreports of all Jubilee functions would have led anyone toguess it was an overwhelming success. Only after the festivaldid the press revert to its function, gleefully reporting theaccusations and counter-accusations that flew between theprincipals involved in the debacle.Despite the blood-letting after the event, Young emerged withan enhanced reputation. Indeed, the business community wasquite pleased with the increased commerce that the Jubilee42 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 1, File 4, Finance CommitteeMinutes, 13 Jan. 1936.u "Mayor gives Jubilee Data in Criticism," Newsclipping,9 Dec. 1936, CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 6.15created," and by October 1936 there seemed to be a consensusfor securing a company that would "specialize in producingspectacles such as the Midsummer Night's Dream" as an annualsummer event in Stanley Park." Encouraged by this support,Young in the same month proposed to the Park Board to producea season of "pastoral drama" for the following summer." ByFebruary of 1937 he had the backing of the Mayor andCounci1; 47 by March the Vancouver Tourist Association (VTA)and the Park Board were also on side."With financial backing now assured, and with the implicitsupport of the Board of Park Commissioners, Young prepared forthe upcoming season using the techniques he had pioneered forthe Golden Jubilee (and assisted by much of the samepersonnel). Preceded by a month-long promotional campaign inthe Vancouver dailies, the "Civic Season of Outdoor Music andDrama" opened at the Brockton Oval on 27 July 1937, with aremount of A Midsummer Night's Dream. To celebrate thecoronation year (for the once and never Edward VIII), Edward44 "Value of Jubilee to City Stressed," News-Herald 11Sep. 1936: 8.45 CVA, Add.MSS 177, Vol. 3, File 7, Report of ManagingBoard, 13 Oct. 1936.46 CVA, Park Board, Section A, Series 76, Board Meetings,Minute Books, Loc. 48-A-4, file 1, Item 2724, 8 Oct. 1936.47 CVA, Parks Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-A-4, file 1, Item 2881, 25 Feb. 1937.48 "To Restage Jubilee," Newsclipping, 13 Mar. 1937, CVA,Add.MSS 177, Vol. 6.16German's light comic opera Merrie England played from August 3to 7. Filling out the season was a rare (for Vancouver)production of The Tempest." Although complaints were voicedabout the loudspeaker system," reviews for all three showswere quite enthusiastic, with repeated references to theexcellent blending of voice and pantomime: "many peoplereceived the impression that one person is doing each role". 51Of The Tempest, another reviewer wrote: "The beautiful poetryof Shakespeare's English was splendidly realized, and givenwith a naturalness seldom achieved by professionalcompanies". 52These productions, although doubtless in tune with the temperof the times, would likely seem quaint nowadays. The emphasiswas on spectacle: even the Shakespeare plays were accompaniedby a full symphony orchestra and a company of dancers. ForDream, the orchestra naturally played Mendelssohn's incidental49 Although a news release of the time ["SpectacularPresentation of Shakespeare's The Tempest," Sun 7 Aug. 1937:7.] indicates that this was the first production of that playto be mounted in Vancouver, Sheila Roberts in her bookShakespeare in Vancouver refers to an earlier production in1909 staged by the English actor-manager Ben Greet. See SheilaRoberts, Shakespeare in Vancouver: 1889-1918 (Vancouver:Vancouver Historical Society, 1971) 26.50 "Merrie England is Well Rendered," Province 8 Aug.1937: 8."Opera Company's Fine Performance," Sun 7 Aug. 1937: 7.52 Stanley Bligh, "Players Score Triumph in Open-AirProduction," Sun 12 Aug. 1937: 5.17music," and dances were arranged for the "nymphs, elves andfairies" that were performed "with rhythmic grace and artistictaste." 54 Rounding out the pageantry was a Ladies' ChoralEnsemble that sang "Fairy Music"." A similar format wasfollowed for The Tempest, accompanied by Arthur Sullivan'sincidental music. One wonders how the cast had time for thetext, and can only assume there was much cutting andrearranging; unfortunately, prompt-books or other productionrecords are thus far unavailable. The productions must havebeen logistical nightmares, with about two hundred performersfor each show (although many of the Dream cast were also inThe Tempest). Included in the vocal casts for the Shakespeareplays was young John ("Jack") Drainie, the great Canadianradio actor of the forties and fifties; as his daughterBronwyn points out, even in 1937 "he was showing a markedpreference for voice acting over the flamboyant physicality ofstage performance.""Not only were all three productions conceived, produced anddirected by E. V. Young, but he had speaking parts in twoshows, including that of Prospero in The Tempest. A news53 CVA, Pamphlets, 1937-90, Young, E. V., p. 11.54 R. J., "Shakespearean Fantasy Delights BrocktonAudience," Province 28 July 1937: 3.55 CVA, Pamphlets, 1937-90, Young, E. V., p. 9.56 Bronwyn Drainie, Living the Part: John Drainie and theDilemma of Canadian Stardom (Toronto: Macmillan of Canada,1988) 29.18report following the final performance of The Tempest indicates the measure of his esteem:Round after round of applause greeted the directorand his numerous cast after they "dropped thecurtain" on the final scene to be enacted this year. . . . Speaking on behalf of the cast, one of itsmembers declared: "Mr. Young is the true Prospero.It is he that has called us by his art from ourconfines to enact his present fancies." As thistribute was delivered over the public addresssystem, the audience joined in the compliments paidwith round after round of applause. 57Although the local press delivered glowing tributes, audiencenumbers were disappointing, and the 1937 season suffered afinancial loss." The venture's main sponsor, the VancouverTourist Association, was more interested in the bottom linethan Bottom the weaver and withdrew further support. Until thespring of 1939, plans for outdoor theatre in Stanley Park laydormant. Young then asked the Park Board to sponsor twelvesummer performances of light opera, not in the Brockton Oval,but in the Music Bowl. The Board, however, regarded the pricetag (approximately $650 per performance) with something less57 "The Tempest Well Received," Sun 16 Aug. 1937: 9.58 Stanley Bligh, "Music, Drama Presentation Pleases Crowdat Brockton," Sun 4 Aug. 1937: 11.19than enthusiasm; 59 it was willing to lend the project moralsupport, but not cash. 6° By June of 1939, however, afterintense lobbying by the Vancouver Council of Women, 61 theBoard's resistance was weakening. It agreed to subsidize aseason of light opera in the music bowl for 1940 if Youngcould also find other backers. The Council of Women, althoughhaving no actual authority, nevertheless exercised a greatdeal of influence in Vancouver's cultural life. The Park Boardhad felt their clout in the past, most recently during theGolden Jubilee. 62 Young, who seemed masterful at makinguseful alliances, had finally tapped a "motherlode" that wasto tip the balance in his favour.In his campaign, Young managed to enlist the support of theJunior Board of Trade, once again by dangling the bait oftourism. The business group offered their backing to the Park6s CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48 -A-4, file 2, Item 4601, "Music Bowl- Light Opera Season," 24Mar. 1939.60 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Music and Recreation Committee, 14 April 1939,"Light Opera-Music Bowl."61 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48-A-4, file 2, 9 June 1939, Item 4617, "Light Opera Season-Music Bowl."62 The Jubilee Committee had planned to charge a generaladmission of twenty-five cents to Stanley Park which the ParkBoard endorsed until persistent lobbying by The VancouverCouncil of Women caused them to reverse their stand. TheJubilee Committee claimed that this action caused them to lose$20,000. See CVA, Add.Mss. 177, Vol. 1, File 2, Letter from A.S. Wootton to Matheson, July 20, 1936.20Board "in anything the Board might be able to do in the matterof entertaining tourists in the city." 63 By the Spring of1940, A. S. Wootton, the authoritative Superintendent of thePark Board, also backed the project. In April, Wootton draftedletters to the City Council and the Tourist Associationrequesting support for a three-week season of music and dramato be staged that summer." Wootton's influence obviouslycarried the day: in May it was confirmed that City Council andthe Tourist Association would donate grants of $1,000 each tohelp underwrite production costs. With their commitmentassured, the Park Board now gave the project its unreservedbacking. 65 A "Select Committee" hurriedly began to organizeproduction and promotional details. It consisted of musicaldirector Basil Horsfall, business administrator L. C. Thomas,and of course Young himself as Stage Director. Horsfall,founder, president, and musical director of the Victoria,B.C., Grand Opera Association, had just recently moved toVancouver; Thomas was the current president of the VancouverSymphony Orchestra. Following the agreement, the Park Board63 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48-A-4, file 2, 9 Feb. 1940, Item 7533, "Tourist Entertainment."64 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48-A-4, file 2, 12 April 1940, Item 6603, "Music and DramaSeason."65 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, 16 May 1940, Music Committee, "Music and DramaIn Music Bowl Area."21promptly notified the Council of Women that the project thegroup had lobbied for so ardently would soon be realized."Theatre Under the Stars inaugurated its first season on 6August 1940, with a Sidney Jones musical warhorse called TheGeisha, a rather Kiplingesque view of English sailors on aspree in Japan. Although it betrays a charming innocencedespite its fin de siècle chauvinism, The Geisha exploitsracist stereotypes to a degree that makes a modern productionunthinkable. It contains the famous song "Chin, Chin,Chinaman," sung by a Chinese tea house proprietor called Wun-Hi. A sample of the lyrics: "Chin-chin chinaman muchee mucheesad . . . ." 67 When first produced in 1896, its Britishaudience loved The Geisha, which enjoyed a run of 760performances." A half-century later, Vancouver too loved The Geisha, although in more modest proportions--two additionalperformances were added to its run.The Geisha departed significantly from previous parkproductions. It represented the first use of the Malkin Bowlbandshell as a theatre stage, and though the structure wasmuch smaller than the one still in existence to-day, and66 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48-A-4, file 2, 23 May 1940, Item 6663, "Music and Drama Season-Music Bowl."67 Sydney Jones, music, and Owen Hall, libretto, TheGeisha, vocal score (London: Hopwood & Crew, 1896) 149 - 152.68 R. J., "Random Jottings," Province 3 Aug. 1940: 13.22lacked practically all the amenities normally associated witha theatre, the production of The Geisha established the modelthat TUTS was to follow for a quarter-century. It was also thefirst of Young's outdoor productions to use a single cast. Nodoubt the acoustically friendly confines of the bowleliminated the need for double-casting, which seems anunwieldy concept at best.In addition to The Geisha, the first season of TUTS includedtwo Shakespeare plays, and a musical program called "A Nightof Opera and Ballet." The latter, consisting of excerpts fromVerdi's Il Trovatore and Gounod's Faust, was also staged inthe bandshell. By hiring a minor American celebrity, LeeSherman, to sing the tenor lead, TUTS established a precedentit would follow through the years. 69 With the two Shakespeareplays (a remount of A Midsummer Night's Dream and a newproduction of As You Like It), Young was confronted with adifferent problem. Both were conceived in the style of theJubilee productions--large spectacles with double casts.Because the Malkin bandshell was too small to suit the scopeof these shows, an alfresco stage was set up in the shrubberyon the western side of the Bowl. n Included in the vocal castsfor these shows were the young Sam Payne, later one of69 "Plays and Performers in the Theatre Under the Stars,"Sun 1 Aug. 1940: 6.70 R. Rowe Holland, "TUTS in Infancy, Childhood andAdolescence," The TUTS Messenger 3 (Dec. 1953): np., CVA,Newsclippings, Pacific Press II (hereinafter PP), #3.23Vancouver's favourite actors, and Alan Young, the future starof the American television sitcom Mr. Ed. As usual the pressreviews for the whole season were extremely generous.The first season of TUTS was a mixed success. Thoughcritically well-received, the operation suffered a loss of$6,000, part of which was covered by the grants from the Cityand the Tourist Association; the rest was made up by the ParkBoard. Tickets, priced at twenty-five and fifty cents, werepurchased by nearly 15,000 spectators for the twelveperformances. Because the area surrounding the stage was notcordoned off, however, many people chose to sit on the grassrather than pay for a seat; as a result, it was estimated thatas many as 30,000 watched the performances without paying. 71Three years earlier, when the summer park productions lostmoney, they also lost the backing of the Tourist Association;in contrast the Park Board decided in 1940 to continuesupporting TUTS, though its reasons may have been less thanaltruistic. Assuring the fledgling company of a second seasonrepresented the Board's only chance to recoup the money itlost. 72 In his annual report for 1940, Superintendent Woottonpraised producers Young and Horsfall; he further claimed thatthe experience gained that first season would eventually make71 "Open Air Theatre to Feature Light Opera Next Year,Park Board States," Province 14 Sep. 1940: 12.72 Holland.24the program self-sustaining and form "an irresistible lure tosummer tourists."" The report not only affirmed the ParkBoard's commitment to TUTS for the long term; because theBoard had jurisdiction over the theatre and its precincts,TUTS was guaranteed a stable medium in which to plan forgrowth.Circumstance and timing played a part in the creation of asuccessful outdoor theatre in Vancouver. The Park Board,historically entrusted with parks and recreation, appearedeager to assume a more proactive role in cultural activitywithin its jurisdiction. And although a number of individualsand organizations helped to launch TUTS, E. V. Young suppliedthe vision and provided the energy that kept it fromfoundering when the waters got choppy. Pragmatic, yetinnovative, he walked in the footsteps of his mentor, GeorgeAlexander, one of the last great actor-managers of the Britishstage. As instrumental as Young was in the creation of TUTS,he was content to leave the management to others andconcentrate on what he enjoyed most. For the next few seasonshe not only directed every production, but acted in a numberas well. Though his output diminished after the war, Youngcontinued to be associated with TUTS until his death in 1955.73 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48-A-4, file 2, Superintendent's Report, 1940 [undated], TheatreUnder the Stars: 2-3.CHAPTER 2THE WAR YEARS: 1940-45Despite the threat of blackouts, gasoline rationing, and all-out mobilization, the years 1940 to 1945 saw TUTS flourishunder the inspiring leadership of J. G. (Gordon) Hilker. Bywar's end, TUTS was not only a success in Vancouver, but hadtoured across the border to Washington and Oregon. Originallyrelying on unpaid amateurs, by 1945 TUTS considered itself afully professional company. During this period TUTS alsoengaged in vertical expansion: to train performers for itsproductions, the company created a controversial offshoot, theBritish Columbia Institute of Music and Drama. As Vancouverprepared for peacetime, a five-year diet of conventional andoften dated operetta gave TUTS a fixed identity as a purveyorof solid family entertainment.Notwithstanding Superintendent Wootton's rosy endorsement ofTUTS in his annual report for 1940, the Park Board must havefelt considerable unease over the first season's deficit;ticket sales garnered only $5,400 against expenses of2526$11,400. 1 Portions of this debt could be written off tocapital expenses and city grants, but the Board was still leftwith a shortfall of $2,500 which it covered by raiding otherdepartments. Although TUTS expenses for 1941 promised to besomewhat less than those of 1940, the Park Board could expectno further money from the City or the Tourist Association.Cultural grants in 1940 were given grudgingly, if at all, andclearly the subsidy for the inaugural season was not meant tobe repeated.If the Board had any misgivings over the management team ofHorsfall, Young and Thomas they were soon addressed. InFebruary of 1941, in addition to approving a three-week summerseason of musical comedy and light opera, the RecreationCommittee of the Park Board also recommended "that a managerfor the plays should be appointed to handle the business andpublicity." 2 Whether L. C. Thomas, the original businessadministrator of TUTS, left willingly or was nudged out isuncertain; as of late February 1941, while the Board wasactively negotiating with Gordon Bilker for the job ofbusiness manager, Thomas was still involved in planning the1 "Open Air Theatre to Feature Light Opera Next Year,Park Board States," Province 14 Sep. 1940: 12.2 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Recreation Committee, 20 Feb. 1941, "TheatreUnder the Stars."271941 season. 3 Once Hilker accepted the position, however, onor about 1 April 1941, Thomas disappears from the records.Gordon Hilker is often cited as the founder of Theatre Underthe Stars. 4 None of the voluminous Park Board records ornewspaper accounts of the day, however, connect Hilker withTUTS until 1941. The Park Board appointed him Manager in thespring of that year; he and the entire services of hiscompany, Hilker Attractions, were put at the disposal of thePark Board for the fee of $350 plus 30% of the first $1,000profit and 20% of profits "over and above this sum." 5 As anobvious incentive to realize a surplus, the Board offeredsimilar terms to Young as Stage Director, and Horsfall asMusic Conductor. 6Though Young and Horsfall started TUTS and remained with theorganization for years to come, Gordon Hilker quickly asserted3 Ibid., 27 Feb. 1941, p. 2, "Manager."4 Most printed references assume that Gordon Hilkerfounded TUTS, a view reinforced by the opinions of people suchas the well-respected Hugh Pickett, who became Hilker's pressagent after the war. However, the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada suggests that only Hilker's advice was enlisted. Howmuch help or advice Hilker actually gave is questionable sincenothing in the records indicates that Hilker played any partwhatsoever in the formation of TUTS.5 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Recreation Committee, 26 Mar. 1941, "HilkerAttractions Limited."6 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48 -A-4, file 2, 28 Mar. 1941, Item 6964, "Recreation Committee."28himself as boss. A native Vancouverite (b. 1913) with musicalroots,' by his mid-twenties Hilker had become a localimpresario who introduced Vancouver to the leading performingartists of the day. When he agreed to manage TUTS at thetender age of twenty-eight, Hilker already had a proven trackrecord. His umbrella company, Hilker Attractions, not onlyprovided Vancouver with world-class artists, but also servedas an agency for local talent. In succeeding years, therelationship between Hilker Attractions and TUTS was notunlike a vine to a trellis; in 1946, for example, out of 138local TUTS employees registered for income tax, more than halfgave their address as Hilker Attractions, suggesting they mayhave been Hilker's clients. 8 Whether Hilker engaged in aconflict of interest in which he received an agent'scommission from his performers in addition to his managementfee from TUTS is unknown: Gerald Britland, a dancer and singerwho worked extensively for TUTS in the 1940s, thinks not. 9Holly Maxwell, Hilker's long-time secretary supports Britland:"I didn't know about it. It could have been quite true--Gordondid a lot of things that I didn't know about--but I'm sure oneof the performers would have said something. „107 His mother taught music; he studied piano for twelveyears.8 CVA, Park Board, Section B, Series 81, Correspondence,Loc. 49-D-4, #1, Employees Income Tax, 1946.9 Gerald Britland, telephone interview, 26 Oct. 1992.10 Holly Maxwell, telephone interview, 14 Oct. 1992.29Whatever else may be thought of him--and Hilker aroused strongopinions--his former associates regarded Hilker as a man aheadof his time;" some even compared him to legendary Broadwayproducer Billy Rose. 12 Despite his strong and decisive image,Hilker seemed to crave the security of an extended family. Foryears the TUTS payroll included direct kin, in-laws, andcronies. Hilker even used the christening of his daughterJudith in 1947 to strengthen these ties: he invited TUTSassociates Doris Buckingham and Hugh Pickett to be Judith'sgodparents. n Beverly Fyfe, the former conductor of theVancouver Opera Chorus who had a long and distinguished careerwith TUTS, confirms the family-like social structure of TUTSin those early days--with Gordon Hilker as the undisputedpaterfamilias."As in most families, spats could flare up with littleprovocation. On one occasion Fyfe demanded of Hilker: "Whydon't you fire me?" To which Hilker replied, "If I didn't needyou I would." 15 These squalls usually (though not always)n Hugh Pickett, Beverly Fyfe, Holly Maxwell and GeraldBritland all shared this opinion without reservation.12 Holly Maxwell interview: "I would say he was like theBilly Rose of Vancouver."; and E. I Midmore, "Vancouver's ownBilly Rose stages Jubilee," Sat Night 61 (6 July 1946): 5.n "Double Christening Performed," Newsclipping, 1 Dec.1947, CVA, JSM 4168, Hilker Attractions.IA Beverly Fyfe, personal interview, 11 Sep. 1992.15 Ibid.30disappeared as quickly as they arose, and despite Hilker'sarbitrary manner, he commanded a fierce loyalty from mostworkers. According to Fyfe, TUTS costume designer StuartMacKay once told him: "Wherever I would be--if he [Hilker]rang me up to come and do something, I would do it." 16 Indeed,the stability of TUTS personnel during the Hilker era is quiteimpressive. Secretary Holly Maxwell, press agent Hugh Pickett,costume designer Stuart MacKay, conductor Bev Fyfe,choreographer Aida Broadbent, stage manager G. T. Lea, inaddition to Young and Horsfall, all managed to forge asuccessful and long-term working relationship with Hilker.Whether they had much choice is a moot point, as TUTS was, soto speak, the only game in town. Nevertheless, Hilker'scharisma seemed to captivate not only his subordinates, butthe Park Board as well: his contract was extended from year toyear with some grumbling, but with little overalldissatisfaction, until 1949.Some, however, were less enamoured of Hilker and his style.Yvonne Firkins, later to found the Arts Club, had been activein Vancouver theatre circles for some time before Hilkerinvited her to direct two shows for the 1944 season (Hit the Deck and Naughty Marietta). Although she directed two moreproductions in 1945, according to one eyewitness she andHilker clashed from the beginning:16 Ibid.31Oh Yvonne Firkins hated him. He didn't like Yvonne'sdirection, and he would tell her so...right in frontof everybody--and Yvonne was a very straight person--she didn't take any nonsense from anybody.''Insulted when asked to direct a single show for the 1946season, she was discomposed enough to fire off a letter ofcomplaint to the Park Board in which she loftily disdained theoffer. 18 She never worked for Hilker again.Like Young and Horsfall, Hilker worked under contract to theVancouver Board of Parks and Recreation who operated TUTSthrough the office of the Board Superintendent. The Board as awhole acted on resolutions of a committee of four parkcommissioners who oversaw TUTS operations. Though ostensiblyHilker's superiors, commissioners lacked the detailedknowledge and expertise of theatre production; because of thisthey mostly rubber-stamped his recommendations. In 1941 theentire management of TUTS was handled by Hilker Attractions,with the assistance of Young and Horsfall; the only othersalaried employees were a part-time dance director and arehearsal pianist. 19 By 1943 Hilker had a paid staff ofHolly Maxwell.18 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books,' Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 19 Feb. 1946, "YvonneFirkins."19 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Recreation Committee, 1 May 1941, "TheatreUnder the Stars, Budget," p. 2.32fourteen. Engaged on a seasonal basis, the size of this staffremained relatively constant throughout the Hilker era.As production manager, Hilker was expected to recommend theplaybill. The 1941 season, however, had already beendetermined before Hilker was hired--dictated by the success ofThe Geisha the previous year. When the Recreation Committeegathered in February 1941 to consider the upcoming season, itwanted musical comedy and light opera "only of the mostattractive type. ,20 Mindful of its losses the previous yearthe committee also wanted the shows to be as inexpensive aspossible. At the next meeting it accepted Young'srecommendations: a reprise of 1937's Merrie England because ofits timeliness; The Mikado because the scenery was alreadyavailable; and The Chocolate Soldier, possibly because of itstopicality (it is based on Shaw's Arms and the Man). Becauseof a dispute over royalties, however, the latter choice waseventually replaced by The Belle of New York. 2' The shows ranon alternate nights for three weeks, opening on July 22 withThe Belle of New York, followed the next night by The Mikado.This format must have presented a logistical nightmare to thestaff and especially to E. V. Young, stage director for all20 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Recreation Committee, 20 Feb. 1941, "TheatreUnder the Stars."n CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Recreation Committee, 27 Feb. 1941, p. 2,"Theatre Under the Stars."33three productions. Press and public took the fledgling companyto its heart, however, and the popularity of the showspersuaded the Park Board to extend the 1941 season an extraweek. 22The Park Board could now take a collective sigh of relief. Thepopularity of the second season, combined with a slightprofit, not only mitigated fears of a financial debacle, butconfirmed the Board's wisdom in choosing Hilker as manager. Inits promotional material, the Board began comparing TUTSfavourably to similar, but more well-established outdoorcompanies in America, n such as the "Muny": the Saint LouisMunicipal Theatre Association which was the oldest and largest(12,000 seats) of the American outdoor theatres. 24 Inrecommending to the Committee the lineup for the 1944 season,for example, Hilker stressed the fact that all the shows hadbeen presented at Saint Louis within the previous two years. 25The Board's compulsive rating of TUTS against comparableorganizations may have epitomised Canada's historic nationalinferiority complex; alternatively, it may also havemanifested the tremendous civic pride taken in TUTS as an22 "Park Board Will Continue Comedies for Another Week,"Province 9 Aug. 1941: 12.23 Ibid.24 Lawrence S. Epstein, ed., A Guide to Theatre in America(New York: MacMillan, 1985) 276.25 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 28 Jan. 1944.34enterprise that, according to some, was rated among the toptwo or three in North America. 26After 1941 TUTS wisely abandoned the practice of running showsin alternation; in succeeding years the productions ransuccessively, usually on a weekly changeover from Mondaythrough Saturday, leaving only one night free for technicaland dress rehearsals. From 1941 to 1945 the season wasextended from three productions over three weeks to sixproductions over six weeks. Of the twenty-two shows mountedduring this period, sixteen were well-established operettas--"old chestnuts" typified by composers Sigmund Romberg andVictor Herbert. Although popular with Vancouver audiences,operetta may have been chosen over other forms of musicaltheatre as much for financial reasons. Before selecting the1942 season Hilker returned from a New York trip convincedthat on a modest budget operetta could be presented much moresuccessfully than musical comedy. 27 Why he thought so isunclear; he may have felt that the major requirement ofoperetta is a good, classically-trained voice, whereas musicalcomedy demands more in dancing and acting ability. Perhaps thedated TUTS operettas allowed for cheaper royalties--or in somecases no royalties at all. In 1944 he hired James Westerfield,an American actor and director, to adapt a version of Die m Fyfe.27 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Music & Recreation, 13 Feb. 1942.35Fledermaus for TUTS. Called Waltz in Old Vienna, it retainedthe music, the plot, and the characters of the original, withone glaring exception. As originally composed, the part of thehost, Count Orlovsky, is a pants role sung by a mezzo-soprano;in the TUTS production the part was played by a male as amale. 28 Hilker perhaps felt that his audience could accept thenovelty of cross-dressing in a farcical Christmas pantomime,but not in a romantic operetta.The cast for the 1941 season consisted almost entirely oflocal unpaid amateurs. 29 The lone exception was Fraser Lister,an actor from Victoria, B.C., who had become an instant hitfor his portrayal of Wun-Hi in 1940's The Geisha. A highly-regarded character actor who graced the TUTS stage for manyyears to come, Lister appeared in all three productions for$450. 3° At the time, this wage was outstanding; it was greaterthan the base salary of Hilker and his associates, andrepresents the Park Board's single concession to celebritystatus (however limited it might have been) in 1941.28 "Park Theatre's Musical Farce Proves Pleasing,"Province 1 Aug. 1944: 6.29 CVA, Park Board, Committee meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Recreation Committee, 1 May 1941, TheatreUnder the Stars, "Budget."m CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48-A-4, file 2, 9 May 1941, Item 7012: "Recreation Committee".36A man destined to play a vital role, not just with TUTS, butwith the future development of music in Vancouver, made hisdebut in 1941. For his first three seasons Beverly Fyfe playedlead tenor in a number of TUTS productions to consistentlyglowing reviews. Although a teacher by trade, Fyfe had astrong musical background; after the close of the 1943 seasonhe was contemplating a career in New York when he was advisedby Horsfall to "stay here and be useful." 31 He took leave fromthe 1944 season for additional musical training, and returnedin 1945 for another debut with TUTS, this time as musicalconductor of Maytime and The Fortune Teller. In his new roleas Associate Musical Director, Fyfe conducted shows for TUTSthroughout the 1940s and 1950s. Then, in 1961, he accepted atemporary position as Chorusmaster with the newly-formedVancouver Opera--a role he was to retain until his retirementin 1991. Although he continued to sing on occasion, he neveragain performed for TUTS following the 1943 season. When askedif he regretted his absence from the TUTS stage, Fyfe repliedthat there were only two roles he ever dreamed of playing as ayouth--Nanki-Poo in The Mikado and Karl Franz in The Student Prince--and that fantasy was fulfilled in his first two yearswith TUTS.32m Fyfe.32 Ibid.37To avoid being typecast as just another well-meaning amateurorganization, TUTS in 1942 embarked, however tentatively, on aprofessional course. Although some of the amounts weretrifling, the entire cast was paid: from $100 per show for themale leads to between $15 and $25 for female leads and thesupporting cast. 33 Chorus members received one to two dollarsa performance, half in cash, half in tickets. 34 As in 1941,TUTS relied on local talent rather than imported stars;although Paul Elmer, who played a supporting role in TheGondoliers, was from Seattle, he was paid the less-than-princely sum of $20. 35 In an era when $1,500 represented anabove-average annual wage, these payments are less ludicrousthan they seem. 36 However lowly the wage, Vancouver theatreperformers must have regarded it with some novelty;professional resident theatre had been absent from Vancouversince the 1920s. 37 Hilker and the Park Board, nevertheless,may have been more concerned by appearances than by a sinceredesire to reward their performers. A note from the 1942n CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, 9 April 1942, Music & Recreation, "Budget":3,4.34 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, File 2, Music & Recreation, 13 Feb. 1942.m CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Music & Recreation, 9 April 1942: 4.36 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-3, file 12,Employee's statistics: 1945.37 Peter Frederick Guildford, "The Development ofProfessional Theatre in Vancouver," MA thesis, U. of BritishColumbia, 1981, 13.38program not only compares TUTS favourably to the Saint LouisMunicipal Theatre but boldly adds: "The management, thedirectors and the acting company (of TUTS) are all paid on asalary basis." 38In 1943 the talent payroll, $4,700, doubled that of theprevious year. 39 Paul Elmer, who made only $20 in 1942, earneda respectable $250 for appearing in all four productions."More significantly, for the first time since 1940 Americantalent headlined two of the shows, Rose-Marie and The Desert Song. Although the fame that surrounded the husband-and-wifeteam of George Houston and Virginia Card has vanished intoobscurity (a contemporary newsclipping refers to Houston as a"noted American baritone" 41 ), their engagement signified atrend that was followed religiously through the years. As arule, Americans were hired to play the leads while localtalent provided support, a custom depressingly familiar toCanadians everywhere. How the Canadian performers judged thispractice during this early phase is difficult to gauge. Fyfe38 CVA, Public Documents, PDS 16.1, Theatre Under theStars Programs: 1940-1963; 1942: The Gondoliers.39 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Annual Reports andFinancial Statements, Loc. 49-D-2; File 11 (1942), p. 5, andfile 16 (1943), p. 75..0 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-3, File 1,Income Tax Returns, 1943.41 "'Desert Song' Thrills in Park," Province 20 July 1943:9.39felt that most regarded it as "an opportunity to learn fromthe pros. 02Not all the star talent was American, however. In 1944 Hilkerengaged Ruby Mercer, a budding young Canadian soprano who hadalready made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera, to sing inBitter Sweet and Waltz in Old Vienna. After a successfulinternational career, Mercer became the highly-regarded editorof Opera Canada. Although relative anonymity awaited most ofthe local talent hired during the war period, performers suchas Sam Payne, Derek Ralston and Peter Mannering eventuallyenjoyed long and successful careers as Canadian actors.Others, such as Hilker's in-laws, Thora Anders and BarneyPotts, evolved into local Vancouver institutions.While the TUTS publicity machine endlessly praised thesuperior calibre of its personnel, internal evidence from ParkBoard meetings indicates that Hilker and his staff, on thecontrary, were distressed by the low quality of theperformances, especially of the supporting roles. 43 Althoughthe country was devoting a huge effort to fighting the war,the cause of Hilker's concern resulted not so much from ashortage of bodies as from a deficiency of experience and42 Fyfe.43 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Music & Recreation, 7 Nov. 1941, "Copy of areport submitted by Mr. Gordon Hilker."40skill. To upgrade the talent, Hilker began paying the cast in1942. In the following year he not only introduced lesser-magnitude American stars, but managed to enlist Paul Elmerfrom the drama department of the University of Washington."Recruiting local male performers for leading roles provedespecially difficult: in 1944, for example, Hilker cast allbut one of the female leads from local talent, whereas themale leads all came from the United States.'"Hilker recognized that insufficient training and a lack ofopportunity undermined the efforts of most TUTS hopefuls. Toremedy this situation, he created in 1944 a controversialoffshoot of TUTS that ironically contributed to his laterdownfall. The basic precept of the British Columbia Instituteof Music and Drama (BCIMD), was simple: "to provide freetraining to promising young talent throughout British Columbiain all branches of the theatrical arts."" Funding cameentirely from TUTS, which regarded the Institute as aproduction expense.'" Although ostensibly a simple trainingprogram, Hilker had a grander vision. One of the Institute's44 Ibid.45 CVA, Park Board, Committee meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 26 May 1944,"Casting."46 Stanley Bligh, "Institute Aids Talented Artists," Sun19 Aug. 1944: 6.47 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Theatre Under the Stars, 29 Dec. 1943, "B.C.Musical & Dramatic Education Society."41stated objectives was to become the focus for music anddramatic instruction for the whole of Western Canada."Hilker's ultimate goal was to organize the Institute along thelines of the Toronto Conservatory of Music, and eventually toaffiliate with the University of British Columbia." Duringthe first year of operation, from space leased in downtownVancouver, paid instructors gave free lessons to over eightystudents in dancing, stage movement, speech, make-up, singingand related arts. 5°A $200 scholarship from radio station CKWX to any youngCanadian artist who needed assistance to study at theInstitute stirred Hilker to conceive a plan that would embracetalent, not just in the lower mainland, but throughout theentire province. 51 In 1945, after appealing to interests bothcorporate and individual, Hilker managed to create ninescholarships for nine separate jurisdictions in BritishColumbia. To create maximum publicity for TUTS, Hilkerconducted competitive star searches in which local committeeswinnowed the available talent before granting the awards.48 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, TUTS, 4 Dec. 1945, "BCIMD."49 Stanley Bligh, "Laying Groundwork For a Conservatory,"Sun 17 Nov. 1945: 6.50 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-3, File 6,Annual Report & Financial Statement, 1944, p. 5, "B. C.Institute of Music & Drama".51 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, BCIMD, 24 Mar. 1944, "CKWX Scholarship."42Although travel costs to Vancouver were partially met by thePark Board, scholarship recipients were expected to pay theirown living expenses through a part-time job which theInstitute helped obtain. The balance of the award was to beused for private vocal and dramatic instruction plus freenightly training at the Institute. Winners also participatedin TUTS productions for which they received payment based ontheir abilities. 52 Although not an award winner himself,Gerald Britland (who began his career with TUTS in 1945 as achorus "gentleman" in Maytime) recreates the atmosphere of hisapprenticeship:We used to [sing] in a place called the Green Parrotcafé [upstairs at Robson & Granville Streets], whichhad a place for dancing and a small stage . . . .You'd have to sing a solo one Tuesday or oneThursday, and get up in front of everybody--whichwas scary in those days . . . and then we'd rehearseand do theatre arts for an hour after the break,which was just great--fencing, movement--everythingrelated to the theatre. So it really was like agreat time--Everybody liked singing and learningabout the theatre.5352 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 4 Feb. 1945, "BCIMDScholarships."53 Gerald Britland, personal recorded interview, 28 Oct.1992.43So lively and vibrant were the Institute quarters at 828Granville Street that in July of 1945 the owner of thebuilding, after repeated complaints that noise from rehearsalsand dancing was affecting his business, applied to the RentalsBoard for eviction. 54 Bowing to pressure, Hilker soon found anew home for Institute in the old Knights of Columbus Hostelat 635 Richards Street, where, presumably, the tenants couldbe as boisterous as they pleased. 55Activities of the Institute were not restricted to thetraining of stage performers: within a year of incorporation,BCIMD formed a 56-member youth symphony orchestra to givestudents practical experience in orchestral work. As atestament to its popularity, the successor of that ensemble isstill in operation to-day. 56 To showcase the diversity of itstalent, the Institute initiated a series of concerts on 7January 1945 in its Club Room." These concerts and recitalsproved to be popular, and by the summer of 1945 BCIMD hadsponsored a complete opera-in-concert at Malkin Bowl. With54 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, TUTS, 31 July 1945, "Institute RehearsalRoom."55 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48-F-1, file 2, 5 Mar. 1946, Item 216: "Rehearsal Rooms for theInstitute."56 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-3, file 6,Annual Report & Financial Statement, 1944, p. 5, "B. C.Institute of Music & Drama."57 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, BCIMD, 15 Dec. 1944, "Private Performances."44TUTS personnel singing the leads, the concert was somehowsqueezed in between the closing of The Vagabond King and theopening of Maytime. 58 Nor did the Institute ignore thepopularity of radio: during the spring of 1944, station CKWXinaugurated a 13-week schedule of broadcasts each Wednesdayevening featuring TUTS artists. Called "Operetta Time," it wasresumed in the fall over CJOR and its full Western Networkeach Friday evening. An internal Park Board memo indicates itssuccess: "This series of broadcasts has proven exceedinglypopular with the listening audience and is of great value inkeeping the Theatre Under the Stars before the public." 59The British Columbia Music Teacher's Association (MTA),already unhappy with the free lessons that the Instituteprovided, became further enraged when Hilker decided to allowthe BCIMD faculty to conduct private lessons using Institutespace. The MTA felt that instructors at the Institute werebeing subsidized by public funds "which might work to thedetriment of other members of the teaching profession." 60 ThePark Board attempted to be conciliatory, but despite itsefforts the MTA continued to regard the BCIMD as an implacable58 "Tenor makes hit in Cavalleria Rusticana," Sun 9 July1945: 7.59 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-3, File 6,Annual Report & Financial Statement, 1944.60 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 4 Dec. 1945, "B.C.Music Teacher's Association."45foe. For the next five years an uneasy truce prevailed, markedby occasional skirmishes. Although the Park Board had intendedin the spring of 1945 to incorporate the BCIMD as anindependent, non-profit society, 61 the necessary paperwork wasnever completed; perhaps Hilker feared losing control of hiscreation. Ironically, the failure to separate the Institutefrom TUTS helped to bring about the ultimate demise of bothHilker and the BCIMD.The Park Board's creation and support of TUTS and the BCIMDwas not just incidental, but was part of an ongoing evolutionin recreational philosophy. As a note in the 1944 programpointed out, the function of the Board was changing from theprovider of "attractive natural beauty spots" to a moreutopian concept of leisure activities which would help allcitizens enjoy a fuller life. 62 Surprisingly, the Board'spromotion of these efforts seemed barely affected by themassive mobilization caused by the war. Blackout regulations,free tickets for service personnel, and the loss of FraserLister to the Air Force, hardly qualify as majorinconveniences. Indeed, the insularity of TUTS during theseyears is quite striking; almost nothing in the availablerecords indicates that the Board or management of TUTS allowed61 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 6 Mar. 1945, "BCIMD."62 CVA, Public Documents, PDS 16.1, Theatre Under theStars Programs: 1940-1963; 1944, Naughty Marietta.46the war to dominate their thinking or their activity in anysignificant way. Like depression-era movies, TUTS providedescapist entertainment that doubtless struck a responsivechord in an audience wearied by years of hardship. Hilker, injustifying his choices for the 1943 season to the Board,seemed aware of these sentiments: he suggested Rose-Marie because of its Canadian background; The Student Prince becauseof its setting in romantic old Europe; and The Desert Songbecause of the Arabs in Algeria. The selections were, heconcluded, "most appropriate to the times." 63 Earlier thatsame year the Board had received a suggestion for plays thatwere more relevant to the global conflict, such as aproduction of Journey's End, but it was dismissed as being"unsuitable."" The Board had found a winning formula andwasn't about to tamper with it.One wartime threat, however, did imperil the operation ofTUTS. After Canada declared war on Japan in December, 1941,there followed, on the West Coast in particular, a period ofunparalleled hysteria generated by the fear of Japanese airraids. Because a rigid enforcement of the dim-out regulationsthat were passed early in 1942 could have ended the summer63 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Music & Recreation Committee, 20 Jan. 1943,"Theatre Under the Stars."64 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Music & Recreation Committee, 20 Jan. 1943,"Mr. G. Magee."47program, the Board appealed to the authorities, beginning withthe mayor, "to see what could be done."" The mayor fearedpanic would occur among a large TUTS audience in event of anenemy attack, and pointed out that only certain vitalindustries, such as shipbuilding, were exempt from theregulations." The Park Board suspended all TUTS preparationsfor the 1942 season from February through April while urgentappeals flowed between the Board and Ottawa, which in turnpassed the buck to the Provincial Air Raid Patro1. 67 Anexemption for TUTS was not forthcoming until April 10, andthen only under the condition that an Air Raid Patrol officialbe hired on stand-by to turn out the lights if necessary. 68Evidently the threat of a Japanese bombing attack soon fadedfor the issue was not raised again. Despite its two months inlimbo, TUTS mounted a successful 1942 season; it posted areasonable profit of $1,500 on a total budget of just under65 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48 -F-1, file 1, 13 Feb. 1942, Minutes of Special Conference Priorto Board Meeting, Item 228, "Dim-Out Regulations."66 Ibid.67 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48 -F-1, file 1, 23 Feb. 1942, Item 243, "Special Conference Re:Black-Out Problem."68 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48 -F-1, file 1, 10 April 1942, Item 289, "Music & RecreationCommittee."48$16,000. 69 Although hardly a windfall, the 1942 surplus,combined with a modest profit of $300 in 1941," indicatedthat the enterprise was embarked on a satisfactory course. Ifcontent with these figures, the Park Board must have beenexhilarated when in the following year profits jumped almosttenfold, to $12,400." The Board generously credited thisgross profit (approaching one-half of total expenditures) toGordon Hilker, whose drive and practical knowledge of theentertainment business "guided the project into orderly,rational channels."'" The confident park commissioners felt acourse had been established that would reap untold dividendsin the future. Their disappointment in 1944 when TUTS recordeda net loss of $900 was made palpable in a draft resolution; itdemanded Hilker provide a plan as to how TUTS could "be sooperated as to show a profit of $10,000 to $15,000 for nextyear69 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-2, File 11,Superintendent's Annual Report, 1942; Financial Report, 1942,p. 5, #75, "Theatre Under the Stars."m CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Music & Recreation Committee, 5 Sep. 1941.71 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-2, file 16,Annual Report & Financial Statement, 1943, p. 69.72 Ibid.73 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48 -B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars Committee, 19 Sep.1944.49Unfortunately for the Board, guaranteed profits were easier toanticipate than to realize. Nevertheless, the commissionershad little reason to feel anything but optimistic: not onlyhad TUTS established a large and growing audience base atMalkin Bowl, but by 1943 the renown of TUTS had spread farbeyond the bounds of the lower mainland. In May of that yearthe Park Board received an enquiry from the Seattle SymphonyOrchestra who wished to sponsor a tour of TUTS to theircity. 74 Hilker quickly worked out a deal whereby Seattleguaranteed TUTS a minimum of $12,000 (plus a share of theprofits after expenses) for a two-week engagement at theMetropolitan Theatre in late summer. 75 On August 7, over onehundred cast members of three different shows (The Firefly,The Desert Song, and Rose-Marie) entrained for Seattle wherethey played to houses sold out in advance for the completeseries. 75 Although TUTS had to underwrite the productioncosts, they were able to add a tidy profit of $2,500 to theiralready sizable surplus."74 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Theatre Under the Stars Committee, 28 May,1943, "Seattle."m CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Theatre Under the Stars Committee, 18 June,1943, p. 2, "Seattle Symphony Society."76 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, loc. 48-F-1, file 1, 16 Aug. 1943, Item 738, "Theatre Under theStars."77 CVA, Park Board, Annual Report & Financial Statement1943, p. 70.50No doubt encouraged by their reception (and their profits),TUTS embarked on an even more ambitious tour in 1944. For overa month the TUTS cast shuffled between Portland, Oregon, andSeattle, where by all accounts they received an even warmerwelcome than the previous year. 78 Adding to the usual hazardsof touring was a train delay on a return engagement fromPortland to Seattle. The train, scheduled to arrive in Seattleat 3:00 p.m., was hours late, but the Seattle audience waitedpatiently until the curtains finally rose on the first act ofWaltz in Old Vienna at 10:30. 79 Once again the tour played tolarge and enthusiastic audiences. Costs had escalatedsignificantly from the previous year, however, and despite aguarantee of $32,000, TUTS could barely manage to breakeven.Notwithstanding some doubts, the ever-cautious Park Boardaccepted Hilker's advice and approved a three-week Americantour for 1945. On this occasion, however, the tour lacked anAmerican sponsor and the consequent guarantee; instead TUTSentered into a share arrangement with an American promoter.With TUTS receiving 60% of the gate, Hilker, who negotiated78 Barbara Tremaine, "City Players Please Seattle," News-Herald 15 Aug. 1944: 7."Seattle Crowd Waits Patiently," Province 12 Sep. 1944:20.80 CVA, Park Board, Annual Report & Financial Statement,1944: 72.51the terms, forecast a profit from the tour of $10,000. 81Despite Hilker's vaunted promotional skills, the 1945 tour toSeattle, Portland, and Tacoma was a financial disaster. TUTScollected only $17,000 in gross receipts against a projectionof $47,000; with expenses of $32,000, the company lost $15,000on the tour." Poor advertising on the part of the Americanpromoter, and the lack of first-class theatres in Seattle andTacoma were among the reasons given for this debacle, but theventure may have also been a victim of historical accident.The tour coincided with American celebrations of their victoryover Japan; no doubt people were distracted--perhaps they weremore interested in dancing in the streets than in sitting in astuffy theatre." This sorry enterprise concluded with aperformance in Nanaimo which was intended as a benefit for theBCIMD but instead did little more than break even. TUTS closedthe 1945 season with an overall loss in operations of$8,000, 84 and a severe darkening of Gordon Hilker's halo.The politicians on the Park Board, ever dependent on the goodwill of the voters, were horrified: some, of course, claimed81 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 18 July 1945, "RoadTour."82 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-3, file 15,Annual Report & Financial Statement, 1945, p. 83.83 Ibid., p. 5.84 Ibid., p. 84.52they were against the American tour from the start." Thelocal Council of Women, who seemed to regard themselves as theguardian angels of TUTS, fired off a letter to the Boarddeploring the American losses; the group suggested that anyprofits from the Vancouver operation be spent on upgrading thequality of performance rather than indulging in foreignadventures." The Board hardly needed encouragement to curtailfuture American touring. It could, however distastefully,accept a deficit on a project meant for the local populace,but to lose money while amusing foreigners was positivelytaboo. Although Song of the Flame, a 1946 production, touredextensively after closing at Malkin Bowl, it was financedentirely by private capital. Despite a score by GeorgeGershwin, the show evidently lost enormous amounts of money;and although the Park Board scrupulously avoided any financialinvolvement in the venture, this was not always apparent toindependent observers. When rumours of the money-losing toursurfaced, the Council of Women responded with a press releasedeploring the losses. The Board scrambled to reassure thepublic that it had no financial interest in the enterprise."A furious Hilker, stung by past barbs from the Council, and85 "American Tour Costly to Stars Theatre," Province 26Sep. 1945: 22.86 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 20 Nov. 1945, "LocalCouncil of Women."CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48 -F-1, file 2, 22 Oct. 1946, Item 654: "Song of the Flame."53suffering personal losses from the ill-fated tour, fired off aletter of his own to the group demanding a retraction."Whether he ever received one is not clear.Although the productions staged at Malkin Bowl continued to beprofitable, by the completion of the 1945 season someworrisome clouds were forming on the TUTS horizon. Averageattendance, which had increased sharply for the first fewyears, began to level off after 1943 to approximately 3,200 anight. The budget of the BCIMD, which was financed almostentirely by TUTS, had jumped nearly 30% in the second year ofoperation. In 1944 and 1945, the Board spent nearly $12,000 topurchase needed equipment." Perhaps most disturbing to thePark Commissioners was the increasing tendency for costs tooutstrip forecasts by substantial margins. 90 Although theseexpenses were more than met by gate receipts from Malkin Bowl,the Board attempted to place a financial halter on Hilkerfollowing the 1944 season. Despite being warned that costs88 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars Committee, 15 Oct.1946, "Press Reports Song of the Flame."89 CVA, Park Board, Annual Report and Financial Statement1944: 77; Annual Report and Financial Statement 1945: 84.go CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 6 Mar. 1945, "Controlof Budget."54must not exceed the figures agreed upon, however, Hilkeroverspent the 1945 budget by $10,000. 91TUTS still managed an overall profit on operations during thewar years of almost $8,000. The upgrading of Malkin Bowl,however, and the purchase of needed equipment resulted in anet deficit of $2,600. Because gate receipts coveredexpenditures only for the current year, each new season beganwith a more-or-less empty ledger. Since seasonalsubscriptions, corporate endowments, or government grants werevirtually nonexistent, the Board was forced to impose a systemof deficit financing in which money for mounting the upcomingseason was borrowed from other departments of the Park Boardand paid back from ticket sales later in the year. As expensesbegan to mount from year to year, financing TUTS became soworrisome to the Board members that by 1949 the Board waseager to transfer the entire operation to a non-profitsociety.Hilker attempted to address the inadequate financing of TUTSas early as 1941 by appealing to Vancouver's corporate sector.He proposed to raise an additional $5,000 by establishingsponsors; companies could buy blocks of tickets at reducedprices well in advance of the season, to be disposed of "in91 CVA, Park Board, Committee Minutes, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 3 July 1945,"Budget."55any way they see fit." 92 Modeled after a program used by theLos Angeles Civic Light Opera, Hilker unveiled the plan to theVancouver Tourist Association to mixed reviews. Although hestressed that better-quality shows with imported stars wouldserve to attract tourists, to the hard-nosed members of theTourist Association the theme had a familiar smell. Somemembers felt that the plan would create unfair competition tothe movie theatre owners and operators. Another memberbelittled the ability of TUTS to attract tourists, claimingthat there had never been as much as "a 'corporal's guard' oftourist cars at the park when a play was in progress." 93Although Hilker pushed the idea of corporate sponsorship foranother year or so, he was unable to attract a single client,possibly because the Park Board refused to relinquish anycontrol of TUTS."Paradoxically, what helped to kill Hilker's corporatesponsorship scheme was the apparent success of TUTS and theprivilege it seemed to enjoy as a civic-backed institution.Some private companies felt they were victims of unfaircompetition: commercial movie houses, for example, resented92 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Music & Recreation, 7 Nov. 1941, "Copy ofreport submitted by Mr. Gordon Hilker."93 "City Tourist Group Splits On Open Air Theatre Plan,"Province 14 Nov. 1941: 9.94 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Music & Recreation, 28 Aug. 1942, TheatreUnder the Stars, "Sponsorship."56the fact that TUTS was granted an exemption from the 20%Federal Excise Tax that applied to amusements. The movieowners and operators no doubt felt, as did the Music Teacher'sAssociation, that the politicians who managed TUTS were in apreferred position to gain favours and exemptions from othergoverning bodies. With the federal excise tax that may havebeen true; Ottawa granted the exemption on the understandingthat the income from the paid admissions was to be used solelyfor educational purposes and that "no profit or gain accruesto anyone connected with the staging of these plays." 95 Theeducational value of shows like The Belle of New York isdebatable; and the fact that Hilker, Young, Horsfall andothers profited from their involvement with TUTS seemsindisputable; nevertheless, in 1944 the federal authoritiesindicated that the exemption would henceforth be automatic.Though Ottawa proved accommodating, Victoria was anothermatter. Despite intensive lobbying by the Park Board and itsallies, such as the Tourist Association, the Junior Board ofTrade and Vancouver City Council, the provincial governmentinsisted on collecting its own amusement tax. 96 That the Boardwas able to marshall such a campaign, however, must have beengreatly resented by the private interests.96 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48 -F-1, file 1, 22 Aug. 1941, Item 68, "Amusement Tax."96 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Special Committee, 16 Mar. 1944, "AmusementTax, Theatre Under the Stars."57Whatever privilege TUTS enjoyed as a publicly-funded body wasbetrayed by its facility, Malkin Bowl, and may explainHilker's urgent campaign for additional capital. The Bowl,excellent as a music shell, left something to be desired as atheatre. Built in 1934 in exactly the same proportions as theHollywood Bowl (but only three-quarters its size), the cone-like interior was shaped by seven concentric rings lined withsound-refracting material. Mounted on a wedge-shaped platform,these rings graduated in size: the smallest ring (at the rear)was only 11 feet high and 22 feet wide; the downstage ringmeasured 28 feet by 56 feet at the corners. Extending downwardfrom the smallest ring was the rear partition which containeda doorway--the only access to the shell interior. Only 30 feetseparated the rear partition from the downstage lip of theplatform. 97 In order to create a proscenium opening, the topand sides of the foremost ring were masked by a fixedpartition. Judging from newspaper photographs from 1942-43,the opening must have measured about 16 feet high by 22 feetwide," allowing for barely-adequate wings on either side ofthe stage. With only one doorway to the performing area, thebackstage traffic, in which chorus, dancers, and principalscompeted with the scenery, must have been hectic. A drawcurtain suspended behind and above the false prosceniumpermitted traditional scene changes. Although Malkin Bowl97 "Stanley Park Bowl," Sun 7 May 1934 (illus.)98 "They'll Be Filled To-night," Newsclipping, 7 July1942, CVA, MS 15662, Theatre Under the Stars, 1943.58would undergo at least two major renovations, the basicpattern described above remained unchanged. A gimcracksolution created out of necessity? Perhaps, but a variation ofit exists to this day.To improve stage facilities, Hilker launched a two-prongedattack, the first aimed at improving Malkin Bowl, the otherdirected toward the construction of a new theatre. He beganwork on the existing site in 1942 by convincing the Board toadd a narrow apron to the front of the stage." This not onlycreated more performance space, but allowed actors anadditional access to the playing area. By 1943 Hilker waspushing for an entirely new structure. Correctly gauging thefiscal conservatism of the Board, he suggested a long-rangepiecemeal approach based on the logic that "even a partiallycompleted installation would be a paradise compared to theexisting conditions." Im Although he considered otherlocations, Hilker preferred the Bowl area, even at the cost ofdemolishing the cherished bandshell. 101While the Board commissioned a study to examine possiblelocations for the new theatre, it also debated the amount of99 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 2, Music, 11 Aug. 1942.NO CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books,Loc. 48-B-2, file 2, Theatre Under the Stars, 26 Aug. 1943.101 Ibid.59upgrading to give the existing facility. The Board faced apredicament. How much should it spend on a structure itplanned to replace? The problem was resolved in typical ParkBoard fashion: "It would be wise to spend as little money aspossible on the present site, limiting expenditures to theminimum required to put on creditable performances. "102 Theparsimonious Board managed to find enough money to regrade theseating area (which improved sight-lines), and to purchasesome new chairs. After some discreet arm-twisting, W. H.Malkin, who donated the Bowl originally, agreed to anothercontribution which would add two additional rings to the frontof the existing structure--thereby greatly increasing the sizeof the proscenium and the stage area. 1°3 One final improvementwas made for the 1944 season: openings were cut between ribson either side of the Bowl; to these were attached makeshiftshacks suitable for the storage of scenery and the creation ofnew entrances to the stage area for the cast. 104Not until the autumn of 1945 did the Park Board finallyresolve that "plans should be laid for the construction of asuitable outdoor theatre for the annual summer opera season of102 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books,Loc. 48-B-2, file 2, Theatre Under the Stars, 10 Sep. 1943,"Recommendations for Improvements in Setting for 1944."103 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books,Loc. 48-B-2, file 2, Theatre Under the Stars, 8 Oct. 1943,"Malkin Bowl."I04 Minutes, Theatre Under the Stars Committee, 10 Sep.1943.60the Theatre Under the Stars."" 5 Five different locations wererecommended, one in the newly-acquired quarry by QueenElizabeth Park, the other four in Stanley Park. 106 Hilker'spreferred location, Malkin Bowl, was not even considered.Although the Board was now officially obligated to build a newtheatre, it still had no plan for raising the estimated costof $200,000. 107 To test for support in the community at large,the Park Commissioners sent out a brochure outlining theirrecommendations to "service clubs and other organizations."" 8The response appears to have been less than overwhelming. Forthe next four years TUTS coped with Malkin Bowl while thequestion of a new home lay dormant.Was the Park Board entirely sincere in its stated resolve tobuild a new theatre, or was it merely trying to mollify adetermined Hilker? The Board's habit of referring the questionfor further study was hardly a dynamic response to a pressingproblem. The Park Board, however, a conservative elected body,was responsible for spending public money; and although itwholeheartedly supported TUTS (and Hilker for that matter), it105 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books,Loc. 48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 16 Oct. 1945,"New Home for TUTS."106 Ibid.107 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-3, File#15, Annual Report & Financial Statement, 1945, p. 5.108 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, loc.48-F - 1, file 2, 23 Oct. 1945, Item 353: Theatre Under theStars & British Columbia Institute of Music & Drama.61refused to be stampeded into risky enterprises. Notunnaturally, the entire period of Hilker's stewardship readslike a tug-of-war between himself and the Board. The resultwas something of a stalemate. Hilker's ability to influencethe Board, especially evident in the early years of the war,began to wane by 1945. As in many relationships, the bloom hadbegun to fade from the rose, helped in no small part byHilker's distressing tendency to overspend, and by hispromotion of the disastrous 1945 tour.Despite its caution, however, by 1945 the Board supportedHilker's vision of TUTS as a dominating force in westernCanadian theatre. In August of that year the Board sent arepresentative to the Western Canada Theatre Conference heldin Banff in order to stress the aims and objectives of TUTS,and no doubt to trade information with the other delegates.The establishment of the BCIMD as the educational arm of TUTSgave the company a year-round presence in the community. By1945 TUTS had consolidated its programming; and if the theatrebuilding was less than satisfactory, the Board could claimthat new facilities were being planned. In the meantime thetotal audience for the 1945 season was approaching 100,000- - animpressive number by any standards. And at seat prices thatranged between fifty cents and $1.50, the Board could crowthat it was fulfilling its mandate to provide low-cost, high-quality entertainment to the mass of its citizenry--and at nocost to the taxpayers.CHAPTER 3POST-WAR: 1945-50The victory of the allied forces triggered a wave ofconfidence throughout the country. After more than fifteenyears of hardship caused by depression and war, Canadians, andespecially the much-beleaguered arts community, wereanticipating the prosperity of the "New Social Order" that thefreshly-reelected Liberals were promising.' Heralding thesechanges was the Junior League of Vancouver, a group ofvolunteer society women: during the summer of 1945 theysponsored a community cultural survey, likely the first of itskind in Vancouver. The study clearly expected culturalactivity to mushroom, funded by generous grants fromgovernment and corporations. Because, the report added,undreamed of leisure would soon be available to everyone, theprivileged class must ensure that this leisure be spent in"creative" activity. 2 A plan of the Civic Centre intended fordowntown Vancouver suggests that the study's conclusions were1 Desmond Morton, "Strains of Affluence: 1945-1987," TheIllustrated History of Canada 469.2 Junior League of Vancouver, spon., The Arts and our Town (Vancouver: Keystone Press, 1946) 4.6263little more than a middle-class vision of highbrow tastes. TheCentre, a massive, six square-block complex of cultural andarts buildings anchored by a truly monumental opera house,included a new library, art gallery and museum. 3 The onlystructure to survive this scheme, however, was a scaled-downversion of the opera house, the present Queen ElizabethTheatre; nevertheless, the concept of the Civic Centrereflected the prevalent optimism in those heady days followingthe war.To help satisfy the needs of this anticipated leisure class,the report further urged the establishment of a centralinstructional body for the teaching of music--a UniversityDepartment or Conservatory similar to institutions in Torontoor Montreal. 4 If the proposal appears suspiciously similar tothe aims of the BCIMD, it might be explained by the presenceof Gordon Bilker on the committee that framed therecommendations of the study. As for TUTS itself, the reportnoted that future plans included the construction of a newtheatre, and the development of a national tour. 5Few of the survey's rosy predictions were realized, at leastin the form envisioned by its authors. Though the subject was3 Ibid. 143.4 Ibid. 8.5 Ibid. 198.64periodically raised during its lifetime, TUTS never didacquire a new home; for three seasons the ferry to Victoriahad to satisfy the dream of a national tour; and despite earlypromise, the BCIMD withered away in the early 1950s. Yet TUTSitself somehow managed to survive, if not prosper, until 1963.Born at the beginning of the war, TUTS had flourished despite,or perhaps because of, the hard times. For one thing, peoplecould afford it; in 1945, ticket prices of fifty cents to adollar were at least one third less than those charged byprofessional touring companies. 6 Whether because of the priceor the setting, the fare or the lack of competition, TUTSremained a popular summer attraction. With a seating capacityof 4,750, by war's end TUTS was attracting an average of23,500 spectators per production,' or roughly eight per centof the city's population. Although losses incurred by the 1945tour and the cost of the BCIMD drained its overall coffers,TUTS continued to earn a handsome profit from its Malkin Bowlattractions. With prosperity supposedly emerging from the darkcloud of depression and war, the Park Board and Hilker musthave regarded the future with confidence at the conclusion ofthe 1945 season.Though the Park Board shelved the question of a new theatre,in other ways it acted decisively. From 1941 through 1945,6 Ibid. 201.7 Ibid. 197.65costumes for TUTS productions had been designed and builtexclusively by the Winnipeg branch of Malabar's, Canada'slegendary costume-maker. 8 Then, in 1945, the TUTS costumestudio was created, jammed into two tiny rooms of the BCIMDoffices. 8 From these cramped quarters, designer Stuart MacKayand his staff now shared the responsibility for costuming TUTSproductions with the Winnipeg company. To make the ventureself-supporting, Bilker organized the costume studio as ayear-round business that created and rented costumes ondemand.In November of 1946, after negotiating for over a year, theBoard concluded a deal with the Department of Naval Affairs toacquire the "Old Discovery" building. A short drive fromMalkin Bowl, the future scene shop was located on Deadman'sIsland, a sandy spit of land south and east of Brockton Pointin Stanley Park. As if to flaunt the advantage of onegovernment agency dealing with another, the Board secured anannual lease at the rock-bottom price of $450. 10 The spacious(14,000 square feet), two-storey structure so satisfied the8 Legendary or not, TUTS program credits from 1941 to1963 continuously and perversely misspelled the name as"Mallabar."9 "Theatre Under the Stars Promoting Local Talent," Houseprogram, Song of the Flame (1946), Page 30, CVA, PublicDocuments, PDS 16.1, Theatre Under the Stars, Programs, 1940-63.n CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 5 Nov. 1946, "OldDiscovery Building."66Board, that in 1949 it purchased the building for $9,000."Because by 1945 Hollywood studios were designing most TUTSproductions, 12 the site was first used largely for storage andset-construction. Hilker, however, soon established a designstudio at Discovery under the supervision of Gail McCance:from 1947 until 1963, settings for TUTS productions weredesigned and built under this roof. Hilker added full-timestaff, and, as he had done with the costume studio, operatedthe scene shop as an independent, year-round business. Soon"Old Discovery" was designing and building sets, not just forTUTS, but for theatre companies across western Canada;" in1947, for example, the shop built sets for musical productionsin Regina and Saskatoon." For local amateur groups, however,such as the Vancouver Little Theatre, the Board adopted a moregenerous policy: it issued a rebate of the rental charge forexisting scenery and props, provided they were returned inn CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-3, Theatre Under the Stars, 2 0 June, 1 949, "Old DiscoveryBuilding."12 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-3, Theatre Under the Stars, 3 May 1948 , "Progress Reportof Hilker."13 "Theatre Under the Stars Now 'Big Business' inVancouver," Sun 18 Oct. 1948: 16.14 Stanley Beck, "There Shall be Music Wherever He Goes,"Sun 11 Oct. 1947: 3.67satisfactory condition. 16 By 1949 the evident success of theTUTS scene shop can be gauged by its net profit of $2,675. 16With the creation of the two studios, directors no longer hadto abide by decisions made in Los Angeles or Winnipeg; theycould now work with local designers to produce a moredistinctive, "made in Vancouver" style that was tailored tothe peculiarities of Malkin Bowl. To keep abreast of thelatest Broadway trends and production techniques, Hilkerdispatched both MacKay and McCance to New York for six-weektraining sessions early in 1946. For the twenty-one year oldMcCance in particular, the trip likely offered a rareopportunity to see Broadway plays and musicals firsthand, andto work backstage with experienced theatre artists andtechnicians. 17Hilker himself regularly visited New York and Los Angeles tosecure talent both for TUTS and his own business. Theseexcursions by Hilker and his staff, and the hiring of Americantalent to headline TUTS productions, no doubt raised standardsthrough a process of cross-pollination. The hiring of AidaBroadbent as choreographer in 1946, however, probably producedn CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-3, Theatre Under the Stars, 17 Feb. 1947, "Rental Policy(Scenery and Costumes)."16 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-4, file 10,"Annual Report and Financial Statement, 1949" 48.17 "Will Study New York Stage Shows," Sun 23 Feb. 1946: 6.68the greatest single effect on the TUTS performance style inthe post-war years. Born in England, she began her dancetraining as a child in Vancouver. In 1933 she moved to LosAngeles where she achieved modest fame as a choreographer forthe Edwin Lester musical revivals staged by the Los AngelesCivic Light Opera. 18 Many of his shows ended up on Broadway,although to generally cool notices: an icy review of The Desert Song noted that "the ballets by Aida Broadbent are in afew rudimentary steps.' 19 In fairness, both Lewis Nichols ofthe Times and his successor, Brooks Atkinson, seemed to have aNew Yorker's urbanite disdain for anything originating west ofBroadway. Notwithstanding their disapproval, the number ofLester revivals that played Broadway in the mid-1940s surelyindicates some level of success. TUTS eventually adapted a fewof these shows (The Desert Song, The Red Mill, and Song of Norway) for Malkin Bowl, with Broadbent's choreography andwith some of the original leads.More than anyone, Aida Broadbent transformed TUTS into a top-rank, professional company. 20 Her impact was immediate andlasting; on her co-workers, on her audiences, and on theVancouver press, which treated her far more kindly than did18 "Creates Dances for Theatre Under Stars," Sun 11 May1946: 6.n Lewis Nichols, review of The Desert Song, N.Y. Times 9Jan. 1946: 20.n Hugh Pickett, personal interview, 23 Sep. 1992.69its New York counterpart. A 1947 Vancouver Sun review ofAnything Goes panned the production, but called herchoreography "outstanding", and elaborated on her innovation:"Particularly effective was a dance to the music of 'Blow,Gabriel, Blow,' in which 'strobolite' lighting effects wereused." 21 Broadbent's continuing association with Los Angelesand other American cities worked to the advantage of TUTS.When a Lester show had finished its run, TUTS frequently wasoffered costumes, settings, and sometimes even headlineperformers (such as Richard Charles or Doreen Wilson), oftenat a fraction of the original cost. 22 But more beneficial thanher connections were her inspirational presence and her showbusiness savvy. As Hugh Pickett recalls:She would put on a ballet and get kids dancing who'dnever done point work before. She could giverelatively untrained kids stuff to do that wasn'tall that difficult, but looked spectacular. I wouldhave been happy to have worked with her forever. 23Pickett claims that before the arrival of Broadbent, the TUTSproduction style suffered from an excess of blandness, theresult of stock costumes, standard sets and the old-fashioneddirecting of E. V. Young. In Pickett's opinion, "TUTS would21 Stanley Bligh, "Cole Porter Show Musical Burlesque,"Sun 5 Aug. 1947: 13.22 Pickett, 23 Sep. 1992.23 Ibid.70have gone down the drain if he [Hilker] hadn't got Aidahere. „ 24 Though she shared the first two seasons with otherchoreographers, by 1948 Broadbent had assumed a dominantposition in the company hierarchy. According to veteran TUTSperformer Peter Mannering, her energy affected everydepartment, and if a particular detail didn't suit her visionof the production, she made sure it was changed. 25 In effect,she acted as a "super-director,” with Hilker's full support.The symbiosis between Broadbent and TUTS endured until thecompany went bankrupt in 1963.Broadbent was the keystone of a revitalized TUTS productionstaff. In 1944, to assist an aging E. V. Young, Hilker engageddirectors Yvonne Firkins and Paul Bethune. Then, in 1946, todirect The Count of Luxembourg and Robin Hood, Hilker addedWilliam "Bill" Buckingham. A practising lawyer, Buckingham hadbegun his theatrical career in 1924 as a member of theUniversity of British Columbia Players' Club. 26 Although hesubsequently established a reputation as one of Vancouver'sfinest actors, both on the stage and in radio, his onlyprevious association with TUTS had been in 1945 when heappeared in two productions. In the next few years, Buckinghamplayed an increasingly important role with TUTS, directing24 Ibid.25 Peter Mannering, unpublished manuscript (1979 [?]) 51.26 "'Bill' Buckingham to Produce Tuts," Sun 1 Dec. 1949:13.71nearly one-third of the productions, and performing in severalothers. His dedication, loyalty, and ability were rewarded in1949 when the newly-formed Vancouver Civic Theatre Societypicked him to succeed Hilker as General Manager of TUTS.In 1947 Hilker engaged another figure pivotal to the future ofTUTS. Hugh Pickett may have begun his career in his father'ssteamship company," but his real interest lay in showbusiness. A friend of Hilker for some years, Pickett wasalready familiar with the operation of TUTS when he joined theorganization. Although referred to in the programs from 1947through 1949 as "Company Manager," Pickett in reality servedas the Press Agent for TUTS--a job he claims he knew nothingabout when he was first hired; he simply learned as he wentalong. z8 ^Pickett's inexperience, Hilker's demonstratedpreference for hiring cronies once again proved sound. Pickettexhibited not only a flair for publicity but a devotion toTUTS that lasted until the company's eventual demise. Inaddition to working for TUTS, Pickett also joined the staff ofHilker Attractions where he became absorbed in the business ofbooking and promoting celebrity artists. He learned the tradewell; when Hilker Attractions folded in 1950, Pickett, alongwith Hilker's longtime assistant Holly Maxwell, stepped in topick up the pieces. The resulting company, Famous Artists,27 "Theatre Man-Talk," Province 27 Mar. 1965: 28.n Pickett, interview, 23 Sep. 1992.72remained Vancouver's premier booking agency well into the1980s.Though changes and additions were transforming otherdepartments, Basil Horsfall, called by his protégé Bev Fyfe"the most bohemian person I have ever known," 29 continued todominate the conductor's stand. Credited with the invention of"opera-film," a combination of silent film and live talent,this energetic and innovative British musician was well-travelled when he arrived in Vancouver in 1940. 3° In additionto conducting most TUTS productions, Horsfall served as theInstitute's opera director, and headed a company of youngsingers that toured western Canada. He died, fittingly enough,on the podium, after suffering a heart attack during anorchestra rehearsal of Bizet's Carmen in preparation for anupcoming 1950 tour. 31Hilker occasionally hired guest conductors to augment the workof Horsfall and his assistant, Beverly Fyfe. One, LucioAgostini, conducted two shows in 1949. A gifted musician whohad composed music for the original Toronto revue Spring Thaw29 Fyfe, interview.30 "Musician Drops Dead On Stage," Province 21 July 1950:17.31 Ibid.73the previous year, 32 Agostini subsequently entered into anenduring relationship with the CBC as a composer andconductor. 33 Another was Stanley Bligh, the music and dramacritic for the Vancouver Sun, who apparently saw no conflictin working for the same company that he otherwise reviewed inprint.For the professional pit musicians, however, the periodbetween 1946 and 1950 was characterized by a struggle forcontrol of the orchestra. Hilker and the musician's unionfought annually over the size of the orchestra and its rate ofpay; for a time, Hilker was able to restrict the number ofprofessional players to seventeen, but by 1947 he was forcedto raise the number to twenty. 34 Confronted by longstandingpractices of the powerful union, Hilker and his musicalconductors had little real authority over the hiring anddisciplining of the instrumentalists. The actual compositionof the orchestra was arranged by a contractor; he hiredleaders who in turn selected the musicians to fill theirsections. The resulting arrangement could be quite casual.32 Herbert Whittaker, "Spring Thaw," The Oxford Companionto Canadian Theatre, ed. Eugene Benson & L. W. Conolly(Toronto: Oxford UP, 1989) 500.n Particularly notable was his innovative scoring ofmusical themes and bridges for Andrew Allan's "Stage" seriesof live drama on CBC, from 1944 to 1956. See Drainie 99 and108-109.34 CVA, Park Board, Board Meetings, Minute Books, Loc. 48-F-1, file 2, 24 Feb. 1947, Item 815: "Musician's Union re:TUTS Orchestra."74Replacements at short notice by musicians unfamiliar with thescore were not uncommon; nor were complaints of drunkennessamong certain musicians. 35 The conflict peaked in 1948 whenHilker lodged a formal complaint with the musician's unionagainst a particular member for being inebriated during aperformance. The press, naturally, was overjoyed. In a pageone story, the Vancouver Sun chortled that during a beergarden scene in The Merry Widow, in which a small onstageorchestra was playing, "It was difficult to know if themusician was acting the part or not." 36 This showdown,probably manipulated by Hilker, resulted not only in a rebatefrom the musician's union, but in a tightening of the rulesgoverning the composition of the orchestra. No longer couldsection leaders engage musicians--the contractor was nowliable for all players, and any breach of his agreement withthe Park Board would result in a penalty of one hundreddollars. 37 Though publicly apologetic, the musician's unionwas seething: at the next meeting of the Park Board, unionsecretary E. A. Jamieson railed against the unfavourablepublicity given his association because of inflammatorystatements leaked to the press from the previous Boardmeeting. As a sop to Jamieson, the Board passed a motion that35 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-3, Theatre Under the Stars, 7 Sep. 1948, "TUTS OrchestraPersonnel."36 "Musicians Drunk at Theatre Under Stars, Board Hears,"Sun 14 Sep. 1948: 1.37 CVA, 7 Sep. 1948, "TUTS Orchestra Personnel."75regretted the "unfortunate" reports of the previous meetingand officially expunged them from the minutes. 38 By then ofcourse the damage had been done; and Bilker,characteristically, allowed himself to be generous once hisgoal had been achieved.Notwithstanding Hilker's efforts to upgrade productionstandards, he persisted in the tried and true revivals thathad prevailed during the first five years. Of the twenty-fiveproductions staged from 1946 through 1949, only one, Bloomer Girl (1949), represented the new wave of American musicalsthat was initiated by Oklahoma in 1943. 39 Only two, BloomerGirl and Song of Norway, were mounted by TUTS in the samedecade they were originally composed. (Both had their Broadwaydebut in 1944 and were staged by TUTS in 1949.) Old-fashioned,dated, but extremely popular, classic operetta continued todominate the TUTS program. These escapist fantasies ofromantic intrigue relied mainly on exotic European locales fortheir setting and their plot. Perhaps they captured theyearning of the depression-weary, war-drained populace thatwas just beginning to enjoy the fruits of prosperity.38 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-3, Theatre Under the Stars, 4 Oct. 1948, "TUTS OrchestraPersonnel."39 Gerald Bordman, ed., The Oxford Companion to AmericanTheatre, 2nd ed. (N.Y.: Oxford UP, 1992) 87.76Three of these productions were based on the music of JohannStrauss II, the "waltz king." He was much in vogue in the mid-1940s, possibly as a result of films like The Emperor Waltz (1947) in which the Viennese composer was played by thepopular crooner Bing Crosby. That same year TUTS mounted twomusicals built around Strauss compositions, both adapted byJames Westerfield: Waltz in Old Vienna (née Die Fledermaus), aremount from 1944; and (by all accounts) a fiasco titledMasquerade. Set in the mythical land of "Moronika" (whoseinhabitants were, naturally, all morons), Masquerade was apastiche of dances and Strauss songs bound together by adecidedly lame libretto. Typical of the production numbers wasthe "Stomach-Ache" ballet, in which dancers dressed as crabnewburg, lobster supreme, and champagne, haunt the dreams ofthe old glutton king. 40 Perhaps chorus "boy" Gerald Britland,who was featured in a dance with future National Ballet ofCanada star, Lois Smith, best captures the flavour of theproject:That [Masquerade] was a terrible thing. That's theone we realized that after we had our dressrehearsal on Sunday night that it was a completemess. We had to assemble at ten o'clock in themorning [Monday], and in six hours re-do this thing.Aida Broadbent stepped in and re-hashed everything,and Monday night we didn't know what the hell we40 CVA, Add. MSS 1064, Series 5, Newspaper Clippings 1942-1955, Box 2, File 13, Masquerade, 1947.77were doing. It was a disaster [laughs). You wouldn'tbelieve the dialogue. James Westerfield was theboyfriend of the leading dancer, so that it was moreballet than anything. He made up this awful openingnumber--I always remember; it was embarrassing--"Weare all morons, we're proud to be/ True native sonsof the State of Insanity . . . ."--Isn't thatawful? 41Song of the Flame, another noteworthy production, closed the1946 season with a nine-day run. One of George Gershwin's lessdistinguished compositions, it centred around a woman known as"The Flame", a spiritual leader of the 1917 RussianRevolution. In addition to the imported leads, Hilker and hisnew partner Leslie Allen included in the cast the entireforty-odd members of the Don Cossacks. An extremely popularRussian men's chorus, they had toured North Americaextensively before and during the war. As the revolutionarymob, and singing traditional Russian songs 42 (none of whichwere in the original Gershwin score), the Cossacks no doubtsupplied a great deal of authenticity and local colour to theproduction. Although one press review called the show41 Britland, interview.42 "Don Cossacks Return to Vancouver," House Program, Songof the Flame, 1946: 23, CVA, Public Documents, PDS 16.1.78"spectacular and thrilling," 43 the cost must have beenoutrageous. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Hilker andsome private backers undertook an ambitious nine-week Americantour of the show after it closed in Vancouver. Possibly as aresult of the emerging cold war with the concomitant hostilityto anything Russian, the production failed dismally; accordingto Hugh Pickett, Hilker was unable to meet the payroll of theCossacks, and the losses he suffered as a result of the tourinitiated a decline in the fortunes of Hilker Attractions fromwhich it never recovered."Shows like Song of the Flame, although financially disastrous,nevertheless created additional opportunities for localtalent. Other performers benefitted from Aida Broadbent'sAmerican connections: two-thirds of the dancers employed byTUTS in 1947 were working elsewhere the following year, inlocations that varied from Radio City Music Hall to CoventGarden. 45 Lois Smith, for example, was touring the UnitedStates in Song of Norway, another Edwin Lester production.TUTS also acted as a showcase for visiting personalities andimpresarios. Jimmy Durante secured engagements for the entire43 Stanley Bligh, "Song of the Flame Music Delights ParkAudience," Sun 7 Aug. 1946: 7.44 Pickett, interview, 23 Sep. 1992.45 "Theatre Under the Stars One of City's Great Assets,"Province 25 March 1948: 10.79female chorus to appear with him at the Texas State Fair,following the conclusion of TUTS' 1948 season."Nor were opportunities limited to the chorus. Paul Elmer, theSeattle baritone who honed his talent with TUTS beginning witha 1942 production of The Gondoliers, returned for the 1947season immediately after appearing in Lester's Broadway run ofSong of Norway. 47 Fraser Lister, the perennial TUTS favouritenoted for his broad comic characterizations," toured with anAmerican Gilbert and Sullivan troupe between the 1946 and 1947seasons. 49 Most local performers, however, once the season wasover, either returned to their regular jobs or supportedthemselves as best they could in their chosen profession.Although little existed in the way of professional theatre inVancouver, many of the more versatile and talented of the TUTSregulars were able to support themselves year-round throughwork in night clubs and radio. 5°46 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-3, Theatre Under the Stars, 7 Sep. 1948, page 2, "Reportof Hilker."47 "Mirth, Music, and Silver Moon as Theatre Under StarsOpens," Province 2 July 1947: 7.48 Mannering 38.49 Cast notes, "Fraser Lister", House program, AnythingGoes (1947), page 19, CVA, Public Documents, PDS 16.1.60 "Theatre Under Stars One of City's Great Assets."80While some of the original TUTS performers were enjoyingqualified success, fresh talent was surfacing, encouraged bysuch post-war talent competitions as C.B.C.'s "Singing Starsof Tomorrow." A future stalwart of the Canadian Opera Company,Ernest Adams launched his career by playing romantic leads forTUTS in 1946. 51 Don Garrard started as a "singing boy" forTUTS in 1948. 52 Soon playing leading roles, Garrard eventuallyenjoyed a distinguished international operatic career; by 1961he was considered the principal bass at Sadler's Wells." PaulKligman continued to refine his comic talents with TUTS duringthe 1940s before eventually heading to Toronto and SpringThaw. 54 From her first appearance in Robin Hood in 1946, BettyPhillips, "the most popular person we ever had locally,""quickly became an audience favourite. The 1948 season heraldedthe first appearance of the young architecture student andPlayers' Club alumnus Robert Clothier." Also joining the51 Bryan S. Gooch, "Adams, (Douglas) Ernest," Encyclopediaof Music in Canada, 2nd ed., ed. Helmut Kallman, GillesPotvin, Kenneth Winters (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1992) 5.52 House program, The Student Prince, TUTS, 1948, CVA,Public Documents, PDS 16.1, "Theatre Under the Stars Programs,1940-63."53 "Garrard, Don (Donald), Encyclopedia of Music inCanada, 515.54 "Spring Thaw," The Oxford Companion to Canadian Theatre500.55 Pickett. interview, 23 Sep. 1992.56 "Donegal," House program, Floradora [sic] (1948), CVA,Public Documents, Loc. PDS 16.1, Theatre Under the StarsPrograms.81company in 1948 were Lillian Carlson and Ed McNamara, twomembers of the dormant Everyman Theatre, the professionalcompany formed by Sidney Risk in 1946." McNamara, anextremely gifted actor with an impressive legacy of work inCanadian stage and film, starred in a number of TUTSproductions during the 1950s. 58Despite the abundance of highly-qualified and well-trainedtalent that was emerging after the war, most lead rolescontinued to be dominated by Americans, much to the chagrin oflocal performers. Hostility to the practice peaked during the1947 season when at least a half-dozen Americans were hired.The grumbling must have had an effect, for in 1948 TUTSbrought in just two outside stars, Doreen Wilson (originallyfrom Victoria), and John Garris." An operatic tenor with anapparently flawless technique, Garris began his career in pre-war Germany. Fleeing from his homeland just prior to theoutbreak of hostilities, he quickly resumed a successfulcareer with the Metropolitan Opera in 1941; soon he was alsoappearing on radio and in film." From 1946 through 1948 hesummered in Vancouver, appearing in a total of nine5' ^19.58 Harry Lane, "Ed McNamara," The Oxford Companion toCanadian Theatre 319.59 Fred Edge, "Theatre Under Stars Strictly CityEnterprise," Province 26 June 1948: 8.60 Cast Notes, House Program, Anything Goes 15.82productions--usually old-fashioned operettas in Europeansettings that suited his superb voice and manner. 61 A handsomeman, Garris was popular with his audience and the press. Alsowarmly-regarded by some of his associates, 62 other co-workersopenly resented him, possibly because he was an outsider, butmore likely because his extravagant affectations and theconstant presence of his companion, Lutz Peter, 63 branded himas homosexual in an age that was less tolerant of "deviant"behaviour than our own. Garris made his final 1946 appearanceas the Count in Lehar's The Count of Luxembourg and accordingto Pickett, many of the cast deliberately defaced posterssurrounding Malkin Bowl, blacking out the "o" in "Count."" Ina rather bizarre twist to this anecdote, whether through aFreudian slip or a deliberate act of sabotage, the houseprogram title page for that show refers to it as "The Countessof Luxembourg." 65 Due to return for the 1949 season, Garriswas shot to death outside the Atlanta, Georgia, railroadstation in April of that year, while on tour with theMetropolitan Opera. Although rumoured that Garris was murdered61 Stanley Bligh, "'Student Prince' Park Theatre Hit," Sun29 June 1948: 3.62 Mannering 53.63 Mannering 58.64 Pickett, Interview, 23 Sep. 1992.65 House Program, The Countess of Luxembourg [sic], CVA,Public Documents, Loc. PDS 16.1.83by the family of a boy that he purportedly seduced," a pressreport in May of 1949 claimed that Garris was shot during ascuffle between himself and friends of a nineteen-year-oldgirl who was suing him for child support. 67 Whatever the truthof the matter, Garris not only enhanced the prestige of TUTS,but his colourful life, and even more bizarre death, bears aneerie resemblance to an operatic plot. Even from his grave,Garris exerted an influence on TUTS: unwilling to replace himin the scheduled Waltz in Paris, Hilker substituted Countess Maritza in its stead."The treatment afforded Garris and other imported talent, amixture of adulation and resentment, has characterized much ofCanada's cultural history. By 1946, Vancouver actors andsingers probably felt that most roles given to so-called"stars" from the United States could have been handled just aswell by themselves. Paradoxically, however, hiring importedtalent may have actually worked to the advantage of localperformers. Doubtless the latter soon became aware of thedisparity between themselves and their professional Americancounterparts, all members of Actors' Equity. Guaranteedcontracts, minimum wage scales, and firmly-established workingconditions in rehearsal and performance were just some of the66 Pickett, interview, 23 Sep 1992.67 "Garris Death Witness Found," Province, 19 May 1949: 1.66 House Program, Countess Maritza, CVA, Public Documents,Loc. PDS 16.1.84ribs of a union umbrella. Given the bizarre rehearsalschedule--each production had only one night in Malkin Bowl torun technical and dress rehearsals, for example--Equityregulations were likely violated more often than not. Still,local theatre talent must have envied the status conveyed bymembership in a professional association. The drive toorganize gained momentum during the late 1940s, and by 1950,Vancouver performers had managed to form local affiliates ofActors' Equity and Chorus Equity. 69 Henceforth TUTS wasobliged to negotiate contracts with the New York headquartersof both Associations. 70 The Park Board had crowed for yearsabout the professionalism of TUTS; for the performers it hadfinally become a reality.Despite the lack of a professional association, by 1949virtually all Canadian talent earned a reasonable, ifunspectacular, salary. Gerry Britland, who as a chorus "boy"sang and danced his way through five shows, earned slightlyless than $400. Betty Phillips, in her fourth season andplaying her first leading roles (in Countess Maritza andRoberta), made slightly more than $400; by contrast, KarlNorman, in his third season, earned nearly $900 for playingone lead and two supporting roles. A wage disparity based ongender? Perhaps, but it may have simply reflected the law of69 Jimmy Johnston, telephone interview, 13 March 1993.70 Hubert S. Banner, "TUTS is going places," Newsclipping,31 May 1952, CVA, TUTS, MS 15,662-2.85supply and demand: good soubrettes tend to be far moreplentiful than good leading tenors. The going rate forsupporting roles, male or female, seems to have been around$100 per show, although the more established male actors whospecialized in character parts, such as Fraser Lister, PaulKligman, and Barney Potts, earned at least twice that much.The highest-paid local performer in 1949, however, was RitaGeorg, a former Viennese operetta star then living inVancouver. She received $550 for playing the lead in The MerryWidow. 71 In spite of her diminished lustre, she too, it seems,benefitted from a reputation built abroad. The absence ofrecords makes any direct comparison between domestic andAmerican salaries difficult, but in 1948 the two importedstars (Doreen Wilson and John Garris) earned a combined incomeof $4,462, or roughly twenty per cent of the total paid fortalent that year. 72In 1948 TUTS performers gained access to an additional sourceof income. A group of businessmen in the provincial capital ofVictoria formed a summer theatre in affiliation with TUTS. 73On the evening of 19 July 1948, on the baseball diamond of72. CVA, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-4, File #13, Employee'sIncome Tax, 1949.72 "Theatre Earned $10,000," Newsclipping, 19 May 1949,CVA, Pacific Press I, Theatre Under the Stars, "S," #1.72 "Foreword," House Program, The Student Prince,Starlight Theatre, Special Collections, University of BritishColumbia, University Archives Division, Concert Programs(Operas & Musicals), Loc. SP, Victoria, 1948.86Royal Athletic Park, Starlight Theatre inaugurated its firstseason with a three-day run of The Student Prince. Other thanthe chorus and orchestra, who were from the Victoria area, theproduction was essentially the one that had closed in MalkinBowl on July 3. Only the principals, orchestra conductor andproduction crew travelled with the set from Vancouver. With amakeshift stage perched in the vicinity of second base, ascattering of tables in the infield area gave the impressionof a none-too-cosy cabaret. The rest of the audience(estimated at 2,000 on opening night) sat in the grandstand. 74Unlike Vancouver, the baseball diamond made no allowance foran orchestra pit; consequently the musicians were forced toplay in an open area before the stage. Unfortunately, the Parkwas much more exposed than Malkin Bowl, and during aproduction of Florodora, a terrific wind arose and blew thesheet music off the stands. With musicians scurrying aboutchasing leaves of music, Bev Fyfe, the conductor, struggledthrough the show as best he could. 75 From July 19 throughAugust 7, Starlight mounted four productions: two (The Student Prince, Naughty Marietta) had already played in Vancouver; theother two (Floradora, The Great Waltz) opened first inVictoria before appearing at Malkin Bowl. The tight schedule,with often only one day's grace between a closing in one city74 Humphry Davy, "Operetta Backstage Scenes Colourful"[photograph], Victoria Daily Times 20 July 1948: 11.75 Betty Phillips, interviewed by Mannering, unpublishedmanuscript 58.87and an opening in another, apparently resulted in a great dealof scrambling aboard the midnight ferries. 76To avoid the capricious weather, and perhaps to secure a moreintimate atmosphere, Starlight moved inside in 1949--to thenewly-built Memorial Arena. Yet even here TUTS could notescape the vagaries of the elements. Hugh Pickett relates howa leaky roof affected a performance of Chu Chin Chow in 1950:We're doing the show, and the orchestra is in thepit, and it's pouring rain, and the roof is leaking,and it's hitting the musicians, and the musicianswon't work. So the orchestra stops in the middle--wehad to announce the night was cancelled.”Despite gallant efforts to involve the Victoria citizenrythrough parades and appeals to civic pride, Th StarlightTheatre lasted for only three seasons. The foreword to theinaugural program promised a modern, functioning, outdoortheatre for the 1949 season, 79 but first-year losses of76 Hugh Pickett, telephone interview, 15 March 1993.77 Pickett, 23 Sep 1992.78 "Starlight Theatre on Parade Through Downtown Area,"newsclipping, The Victoria Colonist, CVA, Add.MSS 1064, File20, Merry Widow, 1949.m "Foreword," house program, The Student Prince,Starlight Theatre, 1948.88$13,000" apparently squelched any such initiative. The exactfinancial ties between Starlight and TUTS remain unclear. TUTSreceived a royalty for the use of its production, but the castand crew were paid by Starlight. By the final season, however,because of its shaky financial position, Starlight was unableto meet its payroll obligations; as a result, few receivedanything more than promises for payment. 81Starlight Theatre's struggle to stay afloat to some degreemirrored that of TUTS. The tendency for Hilker to overspendhis allotted budget obviously worried the Vancouver ParkBoard; early in 1946 it attempted to limit seasonal spendingto $63,000, 82 a figure quickly upgraded to $71,000. With anestimated gate of $89,000, the Board could anticipate a profitof $18,000 for the year." True to form, Hilker concentratedon what he knew best, and let the budget chips fall where theymay. Described by Pickett as a great producer who seemedoblivious to the bottom line," Hilker's contempt of his ownbudget could be awesome. When the dust settled, expenses for80 "TUTS closes tonight After Banner Season," Province 23Aug. 1949: 13.81 Pickett, 15 March 1993.82 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 2 April 1946, "1946Budget."83 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 16 April 1946, "1946Budget."84 Pickett, 23 Sep. 1992.89the 1946 season climbed to $98,000, a whopping $27,000 overthe original budget. The payroll alone claimed $53,000,approximately double that of the previous year. 85 Neitherlast-minute decisions to add capital equipment, nor therelatively modest rate of inflation (about three per centnationally in 1946), account for the abnormal increase inspending. Fortunately, a silver lining appeared in the form ofunexpectedly high gate receipts; as a result TUTS managed toescape the 1946 season with a loss of less than $2,000. Infact, despite seven rain-outs, TUTS grossed over $96,000, thelargest amount in its seven-year history. 86The cost overruns for 1946 finally stirred the Park Board intoeffective action. Although no evidence suggests a movement todepose Hilker, in October the Board appointed its chiefaccountant, Montague Howard, to scrutinize expenses. Besidesmatching invoices with expense statements, he ordered acomplete inventory on all capital assets, including costumesand materials. 87 As an incentive to keep Hilker's spendingwithin prescribed limits, a Board motion was introduced to85 "Gross Receipts Up, But Theatre Staged at Loss,"Province 23 Oct. 1946: 17.86 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 15 Oct. 1946,"Progress Report."87 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 24 Oct. 1946, "Re:Audit Control of TUTS."90make his salary dependant on the net profit, but theresolution was eventually shelved."No doubt stirred by the Board's resolve, Hilker recommended anumber of cost-cutting procedures. He convinced the Board toinvest $15,000 in sorely-needed equipment, mostly sound andlighting gear that in the past had been rented from localsuppliers. The outlay, approved in November 1946, was financedby an interest-free loan from the Park Board's UtilitiesDepartment, to be repaid over five years." At the same time,the Board set a preliminary ceiling on spending for the 1947season of $80,000. 9° By late February, however, after muchhaggling between Hilker and the Board, they agreed on a finalfigure of $92,000. 91 This close collaboration, overshadowed bythe presence of Comptroller Howard, had a salutary effect, asevidenced in the final accounting for 1947: for the first timein the history of TUTS, actual expenses matched projected92expenses.88 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 12 Nov. 1946.89 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-2, file 3, Theatre Under the Stars, 28 Nov. 1946,"Capital Expenditures."90 "Park Theatre Budget Fixed at $80,000," Province 11Dec. 1946: 6.91 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-3, Theatre Under the Stars, 17 Feb 1947, "1947 Budget."92 Newsclipping, CVA, JSM Collection, Theatre Under theStars, MS 15,662-1, 26 Aug. 1947.91While rationalizing expenses, the Board also pondered ways toimprove revenue. For 1947, TUTS mounted a record sevenproductions over a seven-week season. Though ticket pricesremained unchanged, (topping at one dollar and fifty cents),entire sections of the seating were upgraded. For the firsttime, a food and beverage concession was installed inside theTUTS enclosure. Finally, the longstanding practice of dolingout free passes to the city's welfare organizations waseliminated. With these changes and gate receipts from as manyas forty-two performances, TUTS expected to gross $97,000,allowing for a modest profit of $5,000. 93To everyone's undoubted surprise and delight, the leaner andmeaner TUTS showed a healthy overall profit (nearly $17,000)for the first time in four years." Contributing to the netearnings was the weather, with only four rain-outs over theseven-week season. Though the 1947 program ranged from Gilbertand Sullivan to Cole Porter, the overall winner in gatereceipts was Strauss; in one week Waltz in Old Vienna grossednearly $22,000." With figures like these, the TUTS Boardmight be forgiven for believing the public's taste for old-fashioned operetta was insatiable.93 Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, 17 Feb.1947, "1947 Budget."94 Newsclipping, CVA, JSM Collection, MS 15662-1, 26 Aug.1947.95 Ibid.92Although the Board must have been pleased with the revenueprovided by a longer season, organizing and running sevenshows in as many weeks proved to be counter-productive. Otherthan the stress placed on production personnel, the cost ofmounting an additional production partly negated the advantageof a greater box-office. What would seem to be an obvioussolution--longer runs of fewer shows--was adopted by TUTS thefollowing year. With six productions over seven weeks, andanother season of fair weather, TUTS recorded an income of$146,000 in 1948, the highest during the Hilker era; againstexpenses of $136,000, the Board realized another sizableprofit." Despite the success of the two previous seasons,however, the Board was obviously concerned over escalatingcosts. After Hilker projected expenses of up to $150,000 forthe coming year, 97 the Board passed an ominous resolution:"unless outside monies can be obtained, it will be impossibleto finance the 1949 season."" Put simply, the Board faced acash-flow quandary. Unlike most modern cultural organizations,subscription lists were nonexistent; advance ticket sales wereminimal; nor was there any sort of corporate endowment--themoney had to be paid out before it came in. What seemed an96 "$10,000 Profit for Stars Theatre," Sun 18 May 1949:30.97 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-3, Theatre Under the Stars, 7 Sep. 1948, "Hilker Report."98 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books, Loc.48-B-3, Theatre Under the Stars, 28 Sep. 1948, "Financing ofTUTS."93innocent-enough resolution in the aftermath of the 1948 seasoneventually escalated into a battle for control of TUTS thatpersisted through the following year. In the sound and furythat followed, sides were taken, lines drawn, and reputationstrashed. At times the various parties disported themselveslike characters in a comic opera. Among the casualties werethe BCIMD, and Gordon Hilker. Among the survivors was TUTSitself--at least for the time being.Although the commissioners of the Park Board, like otherelected civic officials, had been divided into politicalfactions since the mid-1930s, they had overwhelminglyrepresented the interests of the so-called Non-PartisanAssociation (NPA). This group, a loose coalition of right-winginterests, had been formed in 1937 to combat the entrance ofthe CCF (the forerunner of the NDP) into municipal politics."Until the mid-1940s the CCF achieved only token representationon the Board, and so represented no real threat to the NPAmajority. By 1948, however, the CCF had managed to elect threeof the Board's seven members loo and the fate of TUTS becameenmeshed in the ensuing struggle for power. The CCFcommissioners, true to their concept of public ownership,opposed surrendering the control and assets of TUTS to whatthey regarded as a cabal of businessmen out to make a profit.99 Newsclipping, "New City Election Group," CVA, PPI, Non-Partisan Association, "P," #1, 13 Nov. 1937.100 "Charlie Jones Elected Mayor," Sun 11 Dec. 1947: 1.94The motives of the majority NPA commissioners were morecomplex. They had initially and continually championed TUTS asan example of enlightened and progressive Park Board policy;by the autumn of 1948, however, they seemed to regard TUTS asan albatross weighing down the entire Board. In their haste tooff-load the company, the commissioners often resorted toquestionable pretexts. For example, one commissioner claimedthat TUTS outlays tied up too much Park Board money eachspring, in yet an examination of the financial records for thefirst six months of 1947 shows that disbursements for TUTSamounted to fewer than six per cent of all Park Boardexpenditures. 102 As one of the opposition commissionerspointed out, "other civic bodies cope--why can't theBoard?" 103The events that followed defy simple analysis; like someexotic but poisonous fungus, the sudden resolution of theBoard to jettison TUTS seemed to spring up overnight andmushroom day by day. The actions of the NPA commissioners showlittle evidence of forethought or planning; on the contrary,their piecemeal tactics resulted in a welter of confusing and101 "New Group May Manage Theatre Under Stars," Province23 Nov. 1948: 20.102 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books,Loc. 48-B-3, Finance Committee, "Expenditures" [January-June,1947].103 "Star Theatre Society Plan Meets Opposition," News-Herald 25 Jan. 1949: 3.95often contradictory decisions. For example, they wanted tohand over fiscal responsibility to another organization butstill maintain a hand in decision-making. And once the NPAmajority engaged the CCF members in ideological combat,retreat was unthinkable. Unquestionably, the complexity ofTUTS was making increasing and unprecedented demands on thetime and energy of the commissioners. Park Board Chairman BertEmery complained at one point: "TUTS represents 10% of thePark Board budget, but takes up 75% of the Board meetings. „ 104Finally, the continuing struggle between the Board and Hilkerover control of TUTS itself appeared to exhaust thecommissioners. As Peter Mannering suggests, friction betweenboard and staff is not unusual in the history of Canadian artsorganizations. On one hand, the Park Board considered itselfin charge of operations; at the same time, "the professionalstaff and performing company of the theatre looked on GordonHilker as the boss, and it would be strange if he didn't feelthe same way." V)5 The Board probably recognized that Hilker,more than anyone, was seen as the man responsible for thephenomenal success of TUTS over the first ten years. Whatevermay have been whispered in private, the Board publiclycontinued to back Hilker. Besides, replacing Hilker would havetreated only the symptoms, not the cause, of the Board'sfinancial and administrative headache.104 Bert Emery, "New Plan Assures Efficiency," letter, Sun22 Feb. 1949: 4.105 Mannering 64.96Following the initial resolution in September 1948 to findalternative means of funding for TUTS, the NPA-dominated Boardheld a series of meetings to attempt a satisfactory transferof assets and authority in time for the 1949 season. The parkcommissioners hoped to convince between forty and fiftybusiness persons to contribute $1,000 apiece to a new,legally-incorporated, non-profit society. The money raisedwould carry TUTS until cash began flowing from the sale oftickets--probably by June of 1949. As compensation, the ParkBoard planned to turn over the assets of TUTS, including thescene shop and costume studio. Because the Park commissionerscould not accept surrendering complete control, theyestablished certain conditions for a transfer: membership onthe board of the new society; the right to control the choiceof shows and the pricing of seats; and the option to reacquireTUTS if they felt it was not being operated to theirsatisfaction. '°6 While the Board waited in vain for thebusiness community to respond, the CCF mobilised opposition tothe plan in the community at large. Its campaign stressed theabsurdity of giving away public assets valued at between fortyand fifty thousand dollars to an elite body of wealthy peoplenot responsible to the average citizen. 1°7106 "Protests by C.C.F. Termed Political," Province 31Jan. 1949: 15.Ica T. Alsbury & A. Webster, "Park Board Shouldn'tSurrender Control," letter, Sun 4 Feb. 1949: 4.97While the left fumed, Chairman Emery pressed on, only to tripover legal snags. When in February of 1949 he petitioned CityHall for permission to turn over the assets of TUTS to theproposed society, the Corporation Counsel informed him thatthe City Charter contained no clause that allowed the ParkBoard to operate TUTS; for the changeover to proceed, CityCouncil must petition the Provincial government for anamendment to the Charter. Furthermore, the Counsel suggestedthat the Park Board, in its operation of TUTS, had been actingillegally for years. Finally, the Counsel doubted whether theBoard, under the legislation then in place, even had theauthority to run the BCIMD or to rent buildings. 108 While thenecessary laws were being drafted, the opposing forcesblustered: Emery threatened to close down TUTS unless newmoney was found; and the CCF opposition organized "Save TUTS"rallies, including a mass public meeting at the HotelVancouver. ns During this brouhaha, Hilker and his plans forthe 1949 season waited on the sidelines. 110 With time nowforcing the issue, Emery and the NPA capitulated, and in lateFebruary agreed to run TUTS for one more season. Emerybitterly attacked the CCF, claiming that its opposition to his108 "City Must Rule on Park Board Theatre Move," News-Herald, 8 Feb 1949: 2.109 "Board to Run Theatre," Province 23 Feb. 1949: 17.In CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books,Loc. 48-B-3, Theatre Under the Stars, 14 Feb. 1949, "1949Budget."98plan had driven away support from interested businessmen. 111Of thirty-two invitations to the business community to attenda meeting with the Board in February, only fifteen bothered toreply, and of those, thirteen sent regrets.The legal opinions of the Vancouver Corporation Counselgalvanized the B. C. Music Teachers' Association, which hadopposed the BCIMD since its inception. The MTA hadconsistently argued that the Institute represented unfaircompetition because it was subsidized by the public. The ParkBoard argued in return that the Institute operated as asubsidiary of TUTS, which received nothing whatsoever from thepublic purse. Unconvinced by the Park Board's position, theMTA continued to snipe at the Institute during the late 1940s,but to little avail. Despite the controversy, the activitiesand the range of instruction of the BCIMD continued to grow.The 1948 syllabus offered eight pages of instruction, frommusic to set design to a "Radio School," with the statedpurpose of guiding its students into building "the culturallife of the community of the future. „ 112 By 1949 the BCIMD wasoffering a wide range of year-round recitals and concerts byits faculty and students, in locations that varied from itsown headquarters on Richards Street to the Vancouver Artin "Park Board Keeps Show Under Stars,” Sun 23 Feb. 1949:17.112 Syllabus, British Columbia Institute of Music andDrama, 1948-49, VPL, Northwest Room, "Pamphlets."99Gallery. The MTA took the not unreasonable view that the BCIMDhad strayed far afield from its original mandate of trainingperformers for TUTS, and questioned how instruction in radioor the teaching of piano and theory was essential todeveloping talent for musicals. n3 Above all, the independentteachers of the MTA feared that students of the Institute werefavoured above their own pupils during TUTS auditions.Although the Park Board denied these charges, the MTA remainedsceptical.While the MTA mapped out its strategy, the Institute continuedto expand. By 1948, the cramped quarters at 635 RichardsStreet were no longer suitable for housing the costume studioand the exploding BCIMD. Casting about for something larger,Hilker discovered the recently-vacated Quadra Club at 1021West Hastings Street. Built in 1929, this elegant, delicately-detailed, four-storey brick building was (and still is) anarchitectural gem, modeled after fifteenth-century Florentinepalazzi. 114 Not only was there room aplenty for instruction,rehearsals, and the costume studio, but with two largeauditoriums and third-floor offices that could be rented out,Hilker calculated that the Institute would be practically113 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books,Loc. 48-B-3, Music Committee, 15 Dec. 1947, "B. C. MusicTeacher's Association."114 Robin Ward, "Robin Ward's Vancouver" [illus.], Sun 25Feb. 1989: D-2.100self-supporting. in Even though the building requiredextensive renovations, Hilker persuaded the Board to negotiatea five-year lease with an option to purchase for $140,000. 116Paradoxically, while the Board dickered with the building'sowners over lease arrangements, it simultaneously pressedahead with plans to transfer ownership of TUTS. Although onthe surface these actions seem irreconcilable, by the autumnof 1948, as noted above, the Richards Street headquarters wereconsidered inadequate; in addition, the owners of the buildingwere demanding a considerable hike in rent. 117 Yet even so,during times of uncertainty and transition, conventionalwisdom would seem to urge restraint rather than expansion.Possibly the commissioners genuinely believed that the newheadquarters would indeed be self-supporting, and thusattractive to the business people they were trying tointerest. In fact, the evidence bears this out: from thebeginning of January 1949 to the end of August 1949, rentalincome from groups and individuals using the building amountedto $9,300 against expenses of $10,900, leaving a modest netns CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books,Loc. 48-B-3, BCIMD, 15 Nov. 1948, "New Quarters forInstitute."116 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books,Loc. 48-B-3, BCIMD, 13 Dec, 1948, "New Quarters."117 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books,Loc. 48-B-3, BCIMD, 26 July 1948, "Rental of Institute."101loss of only $1,600. 118 Certainly the building itself, withits gracious entrance and sweeping stairways, projected an airof cosmopolitan glamour that Bilker and the Commissioners nodoubt found enticing. Finally, and perhaps most significantly,it appears that the Board, having created the BCIMD and raisedit to an unprecedented level of prestige, had a vestedinterest in its prosperity. During the ensuing months of oftenbitter wrangling within and without the Board over the futureof TUTS, the Commissioners as a whole fought long and hard tosave the BCIMD; to them it was considered as integral to TUTSas the scene shop.On 22 Jan. 1949, a large advertisement in the Vancouver Sun announced the opening of the new Theatre Under the StarsBuilding, in which the BCIMD would occupy "substantiallyenlarged quarters." 119 The hoopla surrounding the opening ofthe TUTS Building must have incensed the MTA. In February,when the City ruled that the Institute had no legal base, theMTA hired lawyer J. Edward Sears to launch a concerted driveaimed at discrediting the BCIMD. From appearances at thelegislative committee drafting the permissive legislation tostatements in the media, Sears systematically attacked thePark Board's operation of the Institute. Despite his lobbying,118 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-4, file 10,Annual Report and Financial Statement, 1949: 134.119 "Board of Park Commissioners," advertisement, Sun 22Jan. 1949: 15.102in April the provincial government passed the legislation thatlegitimized TUTS. Sears, however, charged that the new lawfailed to clarify the status of the BCIMD, and threatened tosue the Board for misappropriation of public funds. 120 The NPAPark Commissioners, while pursuing their plans to transferTUTS to the Vancouver Civic Theatre Society (VCTS), wereclearly disturbed; a successful legal challenge by the MTAcould result in damage awards against individualCommissioners. Nevertheless, they ferociously defended theBCIMD; without the financial underpinning and the moralsupport that the Board had supplied in the past, however, thefuture of the Institute under the VCTS looked bleak.In desperation the Board turned to the respected doyen ofCanadian musicians, Sir Ernest MacMillan, to conduct a studyand make recommendations concerning the Institute's future.His report at the end of June praised the BCIMD as a valuablepart of the community life of Vancouver, and proposed that itbecome affiliated with an educational body such as theUniversity of British Columbia. 121 The University acknowledgedthe benefits of such an association, but declined toparticipate on the grounds that it had no money available for120 "'Curtain' for Theatre if Institute Closes," Province,3 May, 1949: 45.121 "UBC Urged to Take Over Music Institute," Sun, 22 June1949: 1.103such a venture. 122 The Park Board finally washed its hands ofthe whole affair, and with vociferous dissension from the CCFmembers, voted in July to transfer control of both TUTS andthe BCIMD to the new Society. m Once in control, the VCTSpursued its own agenda; the lease on the TUTS Building, whichexpired on 1 Jan. 1950, was not renewed. 124 The BCIMD moved totemporary quarters on Dunsmuir Street, where in July, 1950,the final ties with TUTS were severed. Incorporated under theSocieties Act as the British Columbia Conservatory ofMusic, 125 this new version of the BCIMD was far removed fromHilker's original vision. Although it continued to offer awide range of courses in music and theatrical arts, without asolid financial basis and cut adrift from the organizationthat spawned it, the Conservatory eventually disbanded. 126The upheavals of 1949 affected people as well as institutions.By the late 1940s, John Goss had become a respected member ofVancouver's arts community. Born in London in 1894, Gossachieved a modest degree of fame as a singer of lieder and artsongs. After touring Canada during the 1930s, he eventually122 "UBC Lacks Music Funds," Sun 28 June 1949: 8.123 "Board Votes to Put TUTS Institute Under Society," Sun26 July 1949: 2.124 "Tuts Building Sold to Dominion Government," Sun 27Mar. 1950: 1.125 "Conservatory of Music Now Official," Province 19 Aug.1950: 38.1H Harold Brown, telephone interview, 30 Sep. 1992.104settled in Vancouver at the beginning of the war, where heopened the John Goss Studio at 641 Granville Street. Duringthe succeeding years he became highly regarded both for histeaching and his frequent recitals. In 1942, he received ravereviews for his portrayal of the composer Schubert in the TUTSproduction of Blossom Time. A dedicated communist, he createda theatre in his studio that was sponsored by the Labour ArtsGuild. Although "progressive," the studio was noted for thequality and scope of its productions, which included Hamlet and Saint Joan. Looking back on an evening of plays and songsin which he had been involved, Peter Mannering recalls: "Itwas a remarkable program--varied, experimental, and a tributeto the energy and talent of John Goss. " 127 Early in 1949,shortly after the TUTS building opened, Goss accepted a verbalinvitation from the acting principal of the BCIMD to become amember of the faculty, and by March, Goss had disposed of hisstudio and moved into his new quarters in the TUTS Building.Near the end of March he travelled to a communist-backed WorldPeace Conference in New York. While attending a banquet at theWaldorf-Astoria, he was arrested and detained by United Statesfederal agents who questioned him on his communist ties.Subsequently, he was allowed to "voluntarily" leave thecountry. 128 Although Goss was well-known in Vancouver as aleftist sympathizer (he ran for the federal parliament as a127 Mannering, 15.no "John Goss Grilled on 'Red Activities'," Sun 26 March1949: 1.105Labour-Progressive candidate in 1945), his arrest anddeportation at the height of the cold-war hysteria made forscreaming headlines in the daily papers. The fact that he hadnot yet signed a contract with the BCIMD soon came to theattention of the NPA, and they seized on the Goss affair as away to embarrass their CCF opponents. On April 11, a majorityof the Board passed an ominous resolution: "This Board doesnot desire that Mr. Goss should be a member of theInstitute." 129 The decision sparked a wave of protest in whichpetitions and letters of support for Goss flowed into the ParkBoard Office, but to no avail. The Board even reversed adecision to allow Goss to appear before the Commissioners inhis own behalf. Like other cold-warriors before and since, atleast two of the NPA Commissioners implied that they hadinformation about Goss that implicated him in treasonousactivity. 13° Although Goss threatened legal action, the affairgradually receded from the public eye. The discredited Gossleft Vancouver for England in the following year where he diedin 1953 while on a lecture tour."'While the Commissioners wrangled in their summer ofdiscontent, Hilker and his staff organized the final season of129 CVA, Park Board, Committee Meetings, Minute Books,Loc. 48-B-3, BCIMD, 11 April 1949, "Faculty Appointments."130 "John Goss Case Ended by Board," Province 26 April1949: 9.131 "John Goss, Noted City Singer, Dies," Province 20 Feb.1953: 7.106TUTS to be supervised by the Park Board. Costs, as usual,continued to escalate, soaring to a record $145,000. Althoughtop seat prices had been raised to two dollars, for the firsttime in the history of TUTS gate receipts dropped from theprevious year, resulting in a net loss of $5,000. 132 Whetherthis decline resulted from negative publicity over the publicbattle for TUTS or from other causes, such as the weather, ishard to say. The rainfall that summer, reportedly the worst inyears, 133 forced the Board to extend the season for five extraperformances. Undoubtedly Hilker, by now the Board's favouritescapegoat, was held at least partially responsible for the1949 deficit. Earlier in the year, attempting to justify thedecision to offload TUTS, Chairman Emery had claimed thatexpenses for 1949 would reach $173,000,^but as otherstatements have shown, he was prone to more than a littlehyperbole: Hilker's actual expenses for 1949 exceeded those of1948 by less than seven per cent, a not unreasonable rise.Adding spice to an already pungent stew, the Board announcedin August, 1949, that it was once again considering proposalsfor a new theatre to replace the one at Malkin Bowl. Of foursuggested sites, the most exotic called for an artificial132 CVA, Park Board, Correspondence, Loc. 49-D-4, File 10,Annual Report and Financial Statement, 1949: 134.133 "TUTS Receipts Up Despite Record Rain," Sun, 23 Aug.1949: 12.134 "Stars Theatre Will Cost $173,000," Sun 24 Feb. 1949:7.107island to be built in Lost Lagoon. Based on an existingoutdoor theatre in Scarborough, England, the plan called for ahuge stage, underwater dressing rooms, an orchestra playingfrom a floating barge, and seating for 7,000. The Boardestimated the cost at $600,000; needless to say, it had noconcrete strategy for raising the money. Instead, theproposals were submitted to the newly-formed VCTS for theirconsideration. 135Whether this plan originated with Hilker is unknown; itcertainly bears his imprint. As of 3 September 1949, however,Hilker had to sway, not the Park Board, but the new directorsof the Vancouver Civic Theatre Society. The election of theVCTS board was an event carefully stage-managed by the Parkcommissioners. Anyone who had purchased a one-dollarmembership in the Society was free to vote for the new board;to keep out undesirables (such as known members or friends ofthe CCF), applicants for membership had to be approved by acommittee of Park commissioners. 136 The new VCTS boardconsisted of twenty-eight directors: sixteen from the generalpublic, three from the Vancouver City Council; and nine fromthe Park Board and its staff. The VCTS now ostensibly governedTUTS; because certain aldermen objected to the transfer ofTUTS assets for the nominal sum of one dollar, however, City"New TUTS Theatre Proposed," Province, 11 Aug. 1949:1358.136 "TUTS Solution," editorial, Sun 27 July 1949: 4.108Council refused to ratify the terms of the changeover untillate October. 137 Under the new agreement, the VCTS acquiredoutright the title, interest, and assets of TUTS; Malkin Bowland the "Old Discovery" building were retained by the ParkBoard but made available for use by TUTS. To sustain theupkeep of the TUTS Building and the BCIMD until 1 January1950, the Park commissioners donated $10,000 to the newsociety. ne In return, the VCTS agreed to produce an annualoperetta season and to provide yearly fully-audited financialstatements. 139While the new board of the VCTS coped with the difficulties ofthe changeover, plans for the following season were suspended.Hilker, impatient as always, fired off a letter to the newdirectors in late October 1949, stressing the urgency ofappointing a production manager as soon as possible. He musthave assumed he was the only logical choice, for he made apoint of dictating his terms and chided the directors forwasting valuable time. 140 Taking him at his word, the VCTSquickly responded: it launched an immediate search for both a137^Ibid.138 "Theatre Society Takes Over TUTS," Sun 3 Sep. 1949:17.139 "Civic Theatre to Draft Agreement," Province 22 Oct.1949: 30.140 "TUTS Seeks Producer, Manager," Sun 27 Oct. 1949: 21.109business manager and a production manager. 141 Slightly over aweek later H. S. Bonner was named business manager, and asearch committee that included Dorothy Somerset, thepioneering Vancouver theatre instructor, was established toselect a new production manager. Hilker must have realizedhis tactics had backfired; in a subsequent letter to the VCTShe asked that his name be withdrawn from the list ofcandidates and wished the Society the best of luck. 143 On 1December the VCTS appointed Hilker's longtime friend andassociate, Bill Buckingham, to the general manager's post. 144Ironically, Hilker himself had hired Buckingham four yearsearlier.Hilker's abrupt fall from grace was only one of a series ofsetbacks that was affecting his business and personal life. In1948 Hilker Attractions was charged with failing to payamusement tax; in 1949 there were rumours that Hilker, incharge of the "Gayway" concession at the Pacific NationalExhibition, was making unauthorized cash withdrawals.According to Holly Maxwell, Hilker's long-serving executive141 Ibid.142 "'Glare of Limelight' Upsets Civic Theatre,"Newsclipping, 4 Nov. 1949, CVA, JSM, Theatre Under the Stars,MS 15662 - 1.143 "Hilker Says He's Through With TUTS," Province 21 Nov.1949: 1.144 "Bill Buckingham Picked to Manage Park Shows,"Province 1 Dec. 1949: 5.110assistant, by late 1949 Hilker was not only writing badcheques, but had retreated to his office where he spent mostdays in an alcoholic fog. " 5 Less than a year after he losthis position with TUTS, Hilker Attractions filed forbankruptcy, with over $68,000 in liabilities.' 46 Though down,Hilker was far from out. He left Vancouver, and through the1950s re-established himself in eastern Canada as an organizerof community festivals and centennial celebrations. In 1957 hereturned to Vancouver as Publicity Director and then GeneralManager of the Vancouver International Festival. His renown asa producer and impresario culminated in his appointment asArtistic Director of the World Festival at Expo 67 inMontreal."' He eventually retired to his hometown ofVancouver, where he died in 1989.145 Maxwell, interview.146 "Hilker Shows $68,000 Liabilities," Sun 4 Nov. 1950:6.10 "Hilker, (John) Gordon," Encyclopedia of Music inCanada 431.CHAPTER 4EPILOGUEThe history of TUTS following the takeover of the VancouverCivic Theatre Society resembles a ride in an old-fashionedroller coaster. Blessed by fair weather and buoyed by a newadministrative and production staff that included Hilker's oldfoe Yvonne Firkins, the first four years of the Buckinghamadministration manifested popular and financial success. Earlyin 1952, partly because of another grant from W. H. Malkin,the stage of the Bowl received another alteration, addingnearly 750 square feet to the floor area.' Later that year thenewly-renovated stage hosted the debut of the home-grownmusical Timber!!, a story of B.C. loggers on a spree inVancouver. Although critically well-received, a brief spurt ofnasty weather restricted attendance, and the show suffered aheavy loss. Regrettably, Timber!! represents TUTS' onlyattempt to mount a work both original and indigenous.' "$20,000 Alteration For TUTS Stage," Sun 16 Nov. 1951: 36.111112Notwithstanding the experience of Timber!!, the popularity ofTUTS in the first years of the new decade soared: attendancefor the nine-week season rose from 142,000 in 1950 to 185,000in 1953--an average of over 20,000 per week. 2 Though annualexpenses ballooned from $170,000 to $250,000 during thisperiod, corresponding profits left TUTS with an unprecedentedsurplus of nearly $100,000 following the 1953 season: Littlecould the VCTS directors know that TUTS had reached itsfinancial crest; the downhill ride would be rough indeed.During the next seven years, from 1954 through 1960, TUTSmanaged only one financially successful season (1956). By1960, despite reducing the number of productions from six tofour, and cutting the season from nine weeks to eight, TUTS'annual production expenses were nudging $350,000. 4 In theautumn of 1960, facing nearly $170,000 in accumulated losses,a major financial crisis confronted the directors of the VCTS.Although the City and the Province had responded to the plightof TUTS with some financial concessions and outright grants,the company was $25,000 in debt. In January of 1961, afterCity Council turned down a request for a $58,000 grant, 5 the2 "185,000 Attended TUTS this year," Sun 19 Nov. 1953: 12.3 Ibid.4 "TUTS Rings Down Curtain, Rings up $25,000 profit," Sun 31July 1961: 7.5 Frank Walden, "City Council Turns Down TUTS Plea for$58,000," Sun 17 Jan. 1961: 17.113board of the VCTS voted to liquidate operations. If thisaction was a ruse to focus attention on TUTS' desperatestatus, it succeeded: the Park Board promptly waived TUTS'debt of $8,500; the City purchased assets of the company worth$15,000; and Carling Breweries gave TUTS an outright grant of$25,000. 6In return for this new lease on life, TUTS radically alteredits operating procedure. Hugh Pickett, now the GeneralManager, worked for free, while Aida Broadbent and JimmyJohnston, the other senior members of the management team hadtheir salaries drastically reduced.' In addition, the 1961season was cut to two productions over a four-week period inJuly. Using only local talent, and trimming costs whereverpossible, TUTS not only produced the season for a relativelymeagre $90,000, but, helped by clear skies, it managed a$25,000 profit. 8 No doubt encouraged by this success, TUTSmounted a season of three productions in 1962; despitecontinued efforts to curtail spending, however, costs nearlydoubled from the previous year. Rain was again blamed for poorattendance, resulting in a loss of $20,000. 8 With its back to6 "Three Angels Keep TUTS Show Alive," Sun 1 Feb. 1961: 23.' Jack Richards, "TUTS Back in Business With Brand NewSpirit," Sun 7 Apr. 1961: 33., and Pickett interview, 23 Sep.1992.8 Sun, 31 July 1961.9 "TUTS uses up all its 1961 profit," Province 21 Aug. 1962:2.114the wall, TUTS attempted one more season, but the results weredepressingly familiar: another loss blamed on another spell ofrainy weather. Once again TUTS pondered its options. Fed upwith city and Park Board waffling over a roof for the Bowl,the VCTS board vowed to abandon Stanley Park for an indoorsite, probably at the Pacific National Exhibition. 10 TUTS alsoconsidered a merger with the Vancouver International Festivalwhose general manager, ironically, was now Gordon Hilker. 11Despite his eagerness to accommodate TUTS, the talks came tonaught; in November of 1963 the directors of the VCTS voted tosuspend the operation of TUTS and to auction off its assets. 12Although TUTS endured a string of financial losses in itsfinal decade, to blame them essentially on foul weather, asmany have claimed, may be misleading. An examination ofVancouver's meteorological records certainly offers evidenceto the contrary. In 1960, for example, TUTS not only suffereda seasonal loss of $62,000, one of the worst in its history,but for the first time since 1941 average attendance droppedbelow 2,000 per performance; yet for the first six weeks ofthat eight-week season, Vancouver enjoyed unusually fineweather, with above-normal temperatures and no measurablen "TUTS Gives Up, Races for Cover," Sun 29 Oct. 1963: 2.IA Ibid.12 Kathy Hassard, "After Quarter Century Lovely TraditionDies," Sun 3 Dec. 1963: 30.115precipitation:3 Could two final weeks of inclement weathercreate such momentous losses? A comparable season in 1947still managed to net a $17,000 profit. Nature surely played arole in determining the fate of TUTS, but she had accomplices.For most of its existence, TUTS as a major summer attractionin the lower mainland had no competition. Then, in 1958, theVancouver International Festival, with backing from all threelevels of government, launched an annual summer season ofworld-class opera, theatre, dance and music. The month-longevent ran from mid-July to mid-August--the heart of TUTS'season. Whether the board of the VCTS initially regarded theFestival as a competitor or an ally is not clear, but by 1961TUTS felt compelled to reduce its season to four weeks in Julyin order to reduce direct competition with the rival event."Perhaps the times were simply passing TUTS by. The Liberalpromise of the "New Social Order" appeared to be coming true:the average industrial income in Canada increased more thantwofold in the decade following the war; 15 between 1945 and1952, passenger-car registrations doubled, and doubled again13 Annual Meteorological Summary for Vancouver City, B.C.: 1960 (Canada Dept. of Transport, Meteorological Branch) 8.14 Jack Richards, "TUTS Back in Business With Brand NewSpirit," 33.15 Morton 476.116by 1962. 16 People were taking to the burgeoning system ofroads and highways in ever-increasing numbers; summervacations, a luxury before the war, became a standard annualexpectation.'' During the 1940s, TUTS promoted itsaccessibility to public transit, and even arranged foradditional service during shows; by the late 1950s TUTSmanagement was complaining about insufficient parking spacefor automobiles. With a larger disposable income, and thefreedom created by the automobile, people no longer relied fortheir pleasure on the inexpensive entertainment that TUTSprovided.The restless spirit of the 1950s was reflected in the music.By mid-decade, rock and roll was supplanting ballads and showtunes as the music of choice for the younger generation. EvenTUTS, in its dogged manner, became infected by change. Old-fashioned operetta still dominated the 1950-51 seasons (andwas still immensely popular), but by 1957 operetta was beingreplaced by the newer wave of Broadway musicals, such asCarousel and The Pajama Game. The year 1958 was pivotal: forthe first time TUTS mounted a season without a single operettain its repertoire. Two years later TUTS bid farewell tooperetta with its third remount of the perennially popularWaltz in Old Vienna. By 1963, not only had operetta vanished16 Ibid. 478.17 Ibid.117from the TUTS playbill, the once-popular form was now asubject of satire. Ironically, Little Mary Sunshine, a modern(1959) spoof of the kind of old-fashioned operetta that TUTShad championed over the years, inaugurated the final season atMalkin Bowl for a professional company.As TUTS struggled through its final season, many must haverealized that, notwithstanding the weather, the TUTS audiencehad dwindled and could no longer support lavish productionswith large professional casts. An evening that drew anaudience of four thousand plus, common in the past, was nowproving the exception to the rule. Perhaps the sense ofcommunity that drew people of all ages to park events in anearlier period was fragmenting. John Charles Thomas, theoperatic baritone, attracted 15,000 to Malkin Bowl in 1939;the possibility of a similar event drawing an equivalent crowdto the Bowl in 1963 seems remote. The scene had now shifted tolocales such as Empire Stadium, where in the following yearthirty thousand mostly frenzied teenagers rendered the musicof the Beatles inaudible.Lack of renewal among the management may also have contributedto the undoing of TUTS. The first four years of the Buckinghamadministration, for example, saw TUTS enjoy unprecedentedpopular and financial success. By 1963, although Buckinghamhad since resigned, the production staff of Hugh Pickett, AidaBroadbent, and Jimmy Johnston had been associated with TUTS118for nearly twenty years. Tremendously gifted and creative,they no doubt supplied continuity and stability to TUTS, butcultural organizations often stagnate unless infused with newblood. Finally, for all his faults, the company may havesorely missed the kind of inspired and dynamic leadership thatGordon Hilker was able to provide in TUTS' first decade. Hisvision and drive provided TUTS with a raison d'être: to be thebest outdoor musical theatre company in North America.For the ensuing five years Malkin Bowl sat virtually idle.Then, during the summer of 1969, a small group of areabusinessmen sponsored an amateur production of Carousel.Encouraged by the response, the group formed a non-profitsociety called Theatre in the Park, and once again Malkin Bowlhosted summertime musical theatre. Because of the horrendouscosts associated with large-scale musicals, Theatre in thePark chose to remain an amateur organization that came to relylargely on the good will and hard work of a dedicated corps ofvolunteers. Paid professional expertise was restricted largelyto certain directors, designers, conductors, and actorsplaying leading roles. Despite the uneven quality of manyproductions, Theatre in the Park managed to secure an audiencein sufficient numbers to guarantee annual seasons of musicaltheatre, usually consisting of two productions that ran onalternate nights from mid-July to mid-August. In 1980, perhapsto capitalize on nostalgia, the Theatre in the Park Societyappropriated the name of the original company: henceforth its119summer program of musicals would again be known as TheatreUnder the Stars. The newly-resurrected TUTS nearly met its endless than two years later when Malkin Bowl suffered extensivedamage as a result of arson. Following a successful fund-raising program, however, Malkin Bowl was restored and TUTSresumed operations in 1984.The post-1969 repertoire has consisted mostly of recentBroadway musicals, with an occasional foray into Gilbert andSullivan or one of the classic operettas, such as The Student Prince. In 1970, the E. V. Young Memorial Fund Scholarship wasinaugurated to encourage and assist outstanding amateurperformers to further their careers. Despite its amateurstatus, TUTS has continued to function as a training groundfor talent such as Jeff Hyslop and Brent Carver. Although thequality of most shows could best be described as wanting whencompared to professional productions, occasional gems haveemerged. The outstanding 1988 production of Little Shop of Horrors was eventually remounted at Vancouver's Arts ClubTheatre with much of the same cast. Most productions, however,rely more on the energy and enthusiasm of the company to carrythe shows. With the ambience of the open-air setting, theaudience, which can still exceed 2,000 on a good evening,often seems willing to tolerate, if not forgive, minor gaffesor deficiencies in performances. Because night does not falluntil well after "curtain," the spectators have an awarenessof each other resulting in a shared experience that a darkened120theatre does not allow. One cannot hide at Malkin Bowl; theresult is a subliminal pressure to conform to prevailingsentiments and to suspend, if not disbelief, then at leastcritical judgement. Perhaps this sense of community, if onlyfor a few hours, has always been the greatest attraction ofTheatre Under the Stars.LIST OF WORKS CONSULTEDARCHIVAL COLLECTIONSCITY OF VANCOUVER ARCHIVES (CVA) Firkins, Yvonne. Add.MSS 93. Vol. 1. PersonalCorrespondence: 1937-1962.Newspaper Clippings. "Hilker Attractions." JSM Collection.M4168."Hilker, Gordon." Pacific Press I."Marion Malkin Memorial Bowl." JSM Collection. M6055."Non-Partisan Association." Pacific Press I. 1937.---. "Theatre Under the Stars." JSM Collection. MS15,662,1-3, MS15,663."Theatre Under the Stars." Pacific Press I and II.---. "Wootton, A. S." JSM Collection. M10581.Pamphlets. The Parade of Stars Apr. 1947 Loc. 1947-36.---. Young, E. V. 1937. "Official Souvenir Program, CivicSeason of Outdoor Music and Drama," 27 July-14 Aug. 1937.Photographs. Vancouver-Stanley Park. CVA 392-34. Aerialview of Malkin Bowl, 1953.---. CVA 392, 37-49. Musical events staged at Malkin Bowl,1962-64.-. CVA 392-1062. View of Scenic Studio by Coal Harbour,1966.Public Documents. "Theatre Under the Stars." PDS16. 2 vol.Programs and publicity leaflets, 1940-1963.121122Vancouver. City of Vancouver. "Vancouver Board of Parks andRecreation." City of Vancouver: Guide to CityDepartments and Boards. 1988. 47-51.Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. Section A, Series64. Committee Meetings, Minute Books. 1938-1954.-. Section A, Series 76. Board Meetings, Minute Books.1936-1949.-. Section B, Series 81. Correspondence. 1942-1950.Vancouver Golden Jubilee Society. Add.MSS 177. Vol. 1-5.Minutes, Letters, Financial Statements, 1934-36.. Vol. 6. Newsclippings.- . Vol. 11. "Vancouver: Fifty Years a City."Vancouver Shakespeare Society. Add.MSS 343.Young, E. V. Add.MSS 1064. "Biography."---. Add.MSS 1064. Box 1. Prompt Books and Programs.. Add.MSS 1064. Box 2. Newspaper Clippings 1942-1955.PACIFIC PRESS LIBRARY (PHOTOGRAPHS) Malkin BowlTheatre Under the StarsVANCOUVER PUBLIC LIBRARY (VPL) Canada. Department of Transport, Meteorological Service ofCanada. Monthly Meteorological Summary, Vancouver Airport, B.C. 1950-1963. Science and TechnologyDivision, VPL.Historical Photographs. Quadra Club. 24911. Exterior, 1939.---. Quadra Club. 24914-6. Interior, 1939.Syllabus. British Columbia Institute of Music and Drama.1948-1949. Northwest History Room, VPL. "Pamphlets."Vertical Files, Fine Arts and Music Division. Biography:"Hilker, Gordon.""Music, Vancouver, 1949."123- "Theatre Under the Stars."- "Theatre, Vancouver."UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAHouse program. The Student Prince. Starlight Theatre,Victoria, B.C. 1948. Special Collections, UniversityArchives Division. Concert Programs (Operas andMusicals). Loc. SP, Victoria, 1948.INTERVIEWS AND UNPUBLISHED MATERIALBritland, Gerald. Telephone interview. 26 Oct. 1992.Brown, Harold. Telephone interview. 30 Sep. 1992.Cox, Clifford. Personal interview. 6 Apr. 1993.Fyfe, Beverly. Personal recorded interview. 11 Sep. 1992.Johnston, Jimmy. Telephone interview. 13 Mar. 1993.Lyons, Stephen. Canadian Pacific Archives. Letter to author.3 Sep. 1992.Mannering (Mainwaring), Peter. Telephone interview. 13 Mar.1993.-. Unpublished manuscript. [c.1979?].Maxwell, Holly. Telephone interview. 14 Oct. 1992.Pickett, Hugh. Personal recorded interview. 23 Sep. 1992.. Telephone interview. 15 Mar. 1993.NEWSPAPERSDaily Colonist [Victoria, B.C.]. July 1948-Aug. 1950.Daily Province [Vancouver]. May 1934-Mar. 1965.New York Times. Oct. 1945-Sep. 1946.Vancouver News-Herald. Aug. 1936-July 1951.Vancouver Sun. May 1934-Feb. 1989.Victoria Daily Times. July 1948-Aug. 1950.124PUBLISHED MATERIALBerton, Pierre. The Great Depression: 1929-1939. Toronto:McClelland and Stuart, 1990.Bligh, Stanley. "Vancouver." The Curtain Call Oct. 1940: 14.Cook, Ramsey. "The Triumph and Trials of Materialism: 1900-1945." The Illustrated History of Canada. Ed. CraigBrown. Toronto: Lester, 1987. 375-466."Cross Country." Maclean's Magazine 15 Feb. 1944: 15.Drainie, Bronwyn. Living the Part: John Drainie and theDilemma of Canadian Stardom. Toronto: Macmillan ofCanada, 1988.German, Edward, music, and Basil Hood, libretto. Merrie England. Piano-vocal score. London: Chappel, 1902.Guildford, Peter Frederick. "The Development of ProfessionalTheatre in Vancouver." MA thesis, U.B.C., 1981."John Goss in Recital." The Curtain Call Mar. 1941: 9-10.Jones, Sydney, music, and Owen Hall, libretto. The Geisha.Piano-vocal score. London: Hopgood and Crew, 1896.Junior League of Vancouver. The Arts and our Town.Vancouver: Keystone Press, 1946.Midmore, E. I. "Vancouver's own Billy Rose stages Jubilee."Sat Night 6 July 1946: 5.Morley, Alan. Vancouver: From Milltown to Metropolis.Vancouver: Mitchell Press, 1974.Morton, Desmond. "Strains of Affluence: 1945-1987." TheIllustrated History of Canada. 467-555.Parker, J. Delisle. "The Little Theatre Movement in BritishColumbia." Canadian Review of Music and Art 5.1 (1946):34.Rees, Paddy. "Entertainment--1900 to World War I." TheVancouver Book. Ed. Chuck Davis. Vancouver: J. J.Douglas, 1976. 414-416.Roberts, Sheila. Shakespeare in Vancouver: 1889-1918.Vancouver Historical Society Occasional Paper Number 3.Vancouver, 1971.125Tippett, Maria. Making Culture: English-Canadian Institutions and the Arts before the Massey Commission. Toronto: U ofToronto P, 1990.Ward, Mariellen. "The House of Malabar: from Drawing Board toOpera Stage in One Step." Opera Canada 28.3 (1987): 13-17.REFERENCE WORKSEncyclopedia of Music in Canada. Ed. Helmut Kaltman, GillesPotvin, and Kenneth Winters. Toronto: U of Toronto P,1992.Green, Stanley. Encyclopaedia of the Musical Theatre. NewYork: Dodd, Mead, 1976.McSpadden, J. Walter. Operas and Musical Comedies. Enlargeded. New York: Crowell, 1951.The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Ed. Stanley Sadie. 3vols. London: Macmillan, 1992.The Oxford Companion to American Theatre. Ed. Gerald Bordman.2nd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1992.The Oxford Companion to Canadian Theatre. Ed. Eugene Bensonand L. W. Conolly. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1989.The Oxford Companion to the Theatre. Ed. Phyllis Hartnoll.3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1967."Saint Louis: Municipal Theatre Association." A Guide to Theatre in America. Ed. Lawrence J. Epstein. New York:Macmillan, 1985. 276.APPENDIX APRODUCTIONS: 1936-1949^Date of^Author/Year Opening Composer^ TitleGOLDEN JUBILEE1936^Aug. 4^Shakespeare^A Midsummer Night's DreamAug. 13 T. Coleridge HiawathaCIVIC SEASON OF OUTDOOR MUSIC AND DRAMA1937^July 27^ShakespeareAug. 3 E. GermanAug. 10^ShakespeareTHEATRE UNDER THE STARSA Midsummer Night's DreamMerrie EnglandThe Tempest1940 Aug. 6 S. Jones The GeishaAug. 8 Shakespeare As You Like ItAug. 9 Shakespeare A Midsummer Night's DreamAug. 10 various Selections from Grand Opera1941 July 22 Kerker & Morton The Belle of New YorkJuly 23 Gilbert & Sullivan The MikadoJuly 25 E. German Merrie England1942 July 7 S. Romberg Blossom TimeJuly 14 Gilbert & Sullivan The GondoliersJuly 21 O. Straus The Chocolate Soldier1943 July 5 S. Romberg The Student PrinceJuly 12 R. Friml The FireflyJuly 19 S. Romberg The Desert SongJuly 26 O. Harbach Rose-Marie1944 July 3 S. Romberg New MoonJuly 10 V. Youmans Hit the DeckJuly 17 N. Coward Bitter SweetJuly 24 V. Herbert Naughty MariettaJuly 31 J. Westerfield Waltz in Old Vienna1945 July 2 R. Friml The Vagabond KingJuly 9 S. Romberg MaytimeJuly 16 V. Herbert The Red MillJuly 23 H. Tierney Rio RitaJuly 30 V. Herbert The Fortune TellerAug. 6 O. Straus The Chocolate Soldier126127^Date of^Author/^Year Opening Composer^Title1946 June 27July 9July 15July 22July 29Aug. 51947 June 30July 7July 14July 21July 28Aug. 4Aug 111948 June 28July 5July 12July 19July 26Aug. 51949 June 27July 4July 11July 18July 25Aug. 4F. LehArJ. KernGilbert & SullivanF. LebarR. DeKovenG. GershwinS. RombergG. LudersJ. KernJ. WesterfieldGilbert & SullivanC. PorterJ. WesterfieldS. RombergG. GershwinN. CowardV. HerbertL. StuartM. HartR. FrimlJ. KernF. LeharE. KalmansH. ArlenM. LazarusThe Merry WidowRobertaThe MikadoThe Count of LuxembourgRobin HoodSong of the FlameThe Desert SongThe Prince of PilsenMusic in the AirWaltz in Old ViennaThe Pirates of PenzanceAnything GoesMasqueradeThe Student PrinceGirl CrazyBitter SweetNaughty MariettaFlorodoraThe Great WaltzThe FireflyRobertaThe Merry WidowCountess MaritzaBloomer GirlSong of NorwayAPPENDIX BYearTHEATRE UNDER THE STARS:ANNUAL PROFIT (LOSS),^1940-1949Revenue^Expenses^Profit (Loss)1940 $5,400.00 $11,400.00 ($6,000.00)1941 Not available Not available $300.001942 $17,270.00 $15,760.00 $1,510.001943 $57,100.00 $42,240.00 $14,860.001944 $93,850.00 $94,760.00 (910.00)1945 $93,270.00 $97,150.00 (3,880.00)1946 $96,310.00 $98,180.00 (1,870.00)1947 $108,870.00 $92,000.00 $16,870.001948 $145,770.00 $135,630.00 $10,140.001949 140,150.00 $145,120.00 ($4,970.00)128APPENDIX CPHOTOGRAPHSFig. 1. Malkin Bowl, c. 1940. Artray photo, Pacific PressLibrary, "Malkin Bowl."Fig. 2. Malkin Bowl, July 4, 1945. Sun photo, Pacific PressLibrary, "Theatre Under the Stars."Fig. 3. Malkin Bowl, 1963. Ralph Bower photo, Sun, PacificPress Library, "Theatre Under the Stars."Fig. 4. Aerial View of Malkin Bowl, 1953. Charles S. Jonesphoto, Province, City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 392-34.Fig. 5. Quadra Club (subsequently the TUTS Building), 1939.Vancouver Public Library, Historical Photographs Department,24911.129FIGURE 4133AERIAL VIEW OF MALKIN BOWL, 1953FIGURE 5134QUADRA CLUB (Subsequently TUTS Building), 1939

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