The Zoetic Theatre on Concession Street has been a vibrant example of how this city has embraced its theatre roots. But come September, the current owners of the operation will close its doors to the public unless a new proprietor emerges to continue what they’ve started.
At first, it sounds like a familiar story in a building that’s seen many incarnations over the years. But in fact, it’s a brighter ending than you might expect.
Christena Hampson and Jeremy Major purchased the theatre building and started The Zoetic in 2013 to compliment their other businesses, which includes a dance studio and film production company that operate in and around the 300-seat theatre space. In the last six years they’ve grown the theatre to sellout screenings, weekly community event rentals, a venue for live theatre, movies, live music, and the site of many film shoots.
“I do believe Hamilton loves going out for entertainment,” says Major, a film director of 20 years. “It took us a while to find our niche but now we know what we can sell out and make really fun for audiences. And we’re so appreciative for the support.”
The theatre is known best for its sing-along versions of musical movies, bringing in the audience interaction elements and prop bags made famous by The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
So why move on? Today, the dance studio has outgrown its space, and will relocate to a dedicated dance facility near Limeridge Mall, while the theatre business has grown beyond their personal capacities, as the two owners pursue new opportunities to grow as artists themselves. Additionally, they have an increasingly busy family life together. And so, they’ve decided to say goodbye and sell the building.
Their departure will free up several retail units in the building and residential apartments that were used for offices and storage. As well, the theatre operation is available for “someone entrepreneurial,” suggests Major.
“We’ve come to see ourselves as stewards who were, in a sense, here to care for and improve this treasured building and its over 90-year heritage,” says Hampson fondly of the iconic Concession Street building that takes up roughly half a city block.
The owners have invested well over half a million dollars in people, facilities, and professional artists since 2013, boasting that: More than 2500 dancers have performed on the stage, over 1200 hours of movies and content projected on the screen, they’ve hosted Juno award-winning musicians, Oscar-winning filmmakers, and dozens of up and coming talents. They’ve help raise thousands of dollars for local charities and causes, and hundreds of pounds in food donations for organizations on the mountain and in the lower city.
“It’s been a joy to build this business to where it is today, but we just know in our hearts it’s time to move on. Hopefully someone will carry on the torch,” says Major, “and take it even further.”
• • •