It may sound extravagant – flying to Winnipeg for a weekend to see a show, but we had the luxury of doing just that, thanks to our collection of air miles!
With our son, Thomas, appearing in White Christmas at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, we decided to take the trip. And yes, the Manitoba Theatre Centre now has the Queen’s permission to use the designation “Royal” – they announced the new title just before the opening of White Christmas.
The Royal MTC is an interesting theatre – the main level has tiered seating with good sightlines, and there’s a similar balcony. But off to one side of the balcony, there’s a strip of balcony that goes from the top right down to the main level. Think of Huron Country Playhouse with the stairs at one side, but imagine them with rows of 7 or 8 seats all the way up the stairs.
For one show we sat in the 7th row and had a good view of all the facial expressions. Later we sat halfway up the unusual balcony, where we could see over the entire stage. It gave a whole different perspective to the big dance numbers, with the skirts swirling and the formations clearly visible.
We stayed very comfortably atop the Delta Hotel on their 18th floor, next door to Thomas’ temporary lodgings. Everyone was warning us about Winnipeg’s cold temperatures, but in fact we spent very little time outdoors. Most of the downtown area is connected by underground walkways or skywalks. Thomas gets to the theatre from his place, walking briskly for 15 minutes, and hardly goes outside.
On our Saturday morning, we took advantage of the free shuttle service and went to The Forks Market for a pancake breakfast. Snow was falling gently as a group of boys were enjoying the outdoor skating rink. We shopped at the various vendors throughout the market. Among the stores I found most impressive were a couple of Aboriginal art galleries and a Ukrainian gift shop.
We took in White Christmas twice on Saturday at the Royal MTC; one show at 4:00 and another 8:30, which didn’t leave much time for dinner in between, especially for Thomas who has to be back and dressed well before show time. We called around for reservations earlier in the day, but an 800-seat theatre with back-to-back shows will fill up all the dining rooms. We finally found space upstairs at Tre Vici in their wine lounge. While they didn’t serve meals, we made a dinner out of several plates of various appetizers, which were unusual and very tasty Italian treats!
My long time pen-pal, Kathy and her husband joined us there and went to the later show with us. Such a treat to see Kathy! We’ve been corresponding since we were 11 or 12! I found her in a listing of children wanting pen-pals that appeared in a farm paper. I’ve met her twice before when I travelled through Winnipeg, but hadn’t seen her for 28 years. We’re down to one letter at Christmastime these days, but we’ve always kept in touch.
I can vouch that indeed Portage and Main is probably the coldest corner in Canada – I was there in the 80’s when it was –40 – and that’s either Fahrenheit or Celsius. It was still darn chilly this visit at –14 C. But when we landed at London airport the next night, we were totally unprepared for what greeted us – high winds, thick snow blowing, and the beginnings of a huge blizzard! Southwestern Ontario had surely outdone Manitoba for nasty winter weather!