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Delay in liquor licence helps extend new theatre’s ‘dry run’

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Cathy Dobson

Theatre Forty Two stages its third production this week, having opened its doors just five months ago.

“We’re slowly building up steam,” says co-owner John Leverre.

The new theatre’s first show was a one-night cabaret that sold out at the new venue inside the Unifor union hall at 900 Devine St.

That was followed by a musical called First Date that also had strong support, said Leverre.

“What we heard most was that people loved the intimacy of the space,” he said.

The room, with seating for up to 155, was the union hall’s bar and restaurant for many years.

When Leverre saw it was for lease last summer he and business partner Darryl Heater signed on the dotted line and began making plans to build a stage, apply for a liquor licence and install a new sound system and LED lighting.

Leverre formerly produced local plays through Diversion Entertainment, which he folded a few years ago. Recently, he decided he wanted to produce his own shows again to provide Sarnia audiences with more variety.

“I missed doing the small art house plays because they are what I originally fell in love with in the theatre,” he said.

“I’ve always wanted to have space like this so we could choose the smaller, more risky shows.”

Theatre Forty Two’s concept is to offer a multi-purpose, affordable venue for community use.

Its business plan definitely includes a liquor licence, which had not been issued by press time but was expected any day.

Leverre said Theatre Forty Two is ideal for parties, improv, live theatre and cabarets that would work well with a liquor licence.

It’s frustrating that it’s taking so long to get approval, he said. “But I understand that the government has a backlog.”

Meanwhile, Theatre Forty Two has forged ahead with its own shows, movie nights – called “Cinema 42” on a 16-foot screen – and leasing to various groups as a rehearsal hall.

“We laugh and call this our ‘dry’ run,” Leverre joked.

In the past two months, tiered seating for 20 has been added at the back.

The current production, Almost, Maine by John Cariani is described as a “dramedy” offering up mostly comedy but also some heartfelt moments.

Almost, Maine is the fictional name of a small town where a series of relationship stories take place.

“It’s really eight smaller stories rather than one single play,” explained Leverre. “It’s an honest look at the ups and downs of relationships with many funny moments.

“It has humour that is quirky and absurdist, but also heartbreaking.”

He is director while the cast is comprised of local actors Shane Davis, Jessica Easter, Zak Henry, Ryan Metzler, Shauna Nelles and Anne Stoesser.

Almost, Maine runs May 31 – June 9. 7:30 p.m. curtain. Tickets, $20, can be purchased online at or at the door if available. Seating for this show is limited to 80.

The Arts Journal welcomes your ideas. Contact Cathy at [email protected].




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