By Julia Gunst
CALGARY — A stage dedicated to showcasing diverse local talent is a regular feature of many large cities’ nightlife. Recently, Calgary has seen such an emergence with Late Night at the Plaza, all thanks to the grassroots effort of a small group of enthusiasts.
“It started out with the manager of The Plaza, Logan Cameron,” explains Jen Ouellette, volunteer and marketing manager. “His life is entertainment. He is a musician, actor and performer.”
Executive producer Karlee McTavish also helps turn the dream of a variety show into a reality.
“I’d say the driving force behind this show is McTavish. If you have a great idea, she says, ‘I love it. Let’s make it happen,’” explains Ouellette.
A lack of sleep the next day is a fair sacrifice to see the unique show on a Wednesday night. Cameron, with wild disheveled hair, co-hosts with Kyle Lovstrom; Lovstrom is often the physical comedy pairing to Cameron’s wit. During the show, you might expect to see anything from an interview with a photojournalist to pole dancing. Local bands play at the beginning and during the show, creating welcome interludes.
Since securing the venue and the manpower for the first episode back in June, the show has come a long way. “There were only five people in the crowd and the two hosts and Karlee producing it,” recalls Ouellette.
Volunteers have jumped on board helping out with everything from videography to greeting guests in the lobby.
“We are a hodgepodge diverse group of people from the age of 17 to in our 50s. It’s all kinds of people. Usually our volunteers have come from the audience,” says Ouellette.
All contributions to the show are done without profit as a driving motivation – the show is by donation and Late Night at the Plaza is a non-profit organization.
“We aren’t doing this to make a buck,” says Ouellette. “The money goes back into the show.”
The driving philosophy is to both foster community and support local talent. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. to give time for mingling with lobby games to allow for new connections to be made. Local artisans can sell their wares in the lobby and Village Brewery has teamed up with Late Night to provide local brews.
“There is such a sense of community in Calgary, but it isn’t on the surface. There is this movement happening and we want to help propel that,” says Ouellette.
Late Night at the Plaza is always looking for suggestions and contributions, which can be made through social media or email.
“We do take our suggestions seriously,” adds Ouellette. “If someone says, ‘I want a hypnotist,’ we are going to get one.”
Catch Late Night at the Plaza on Wednesdays. Doors open at 9:30 p.m., shows at 10 p.m. Touch base at [email protected].AB, Alberta, Jen Ouellette, Karlee McTavish, Late Night at the Plaza, Logan Cameron, Plaza Theatre, talk show, Village Brewery