Chris Armstrong is entering from stage right on April 4 as the new general manager of the Lester Centre, with John Roper departing stage left on March 21. (Photo: Supplied)

Chris Armstrong is entering from stage right on April 4 as the new general manager of the Lester Centre, with John Roper departing stage left on March 21. (Photo: Supplied)

New general manager of Prince Rupert Lester Centre announced

Roper exists stage left, Armstrong enters stage right

Chris Armstrong has been named as the new general manager of the Lester Center for the Arts, the organization’s board of directors announced on March 21.

Armstrong will officially take centre stage as the theatre’s leading man on April 4.

“I’m humbled and honoured to have been appointed by the board to this position. I’m looking forward to bringing more productions to the stage as the pandemic, hopefully, fades away,” Armstrong said. “Through the hard work of the Lester Centre’s employees, volunteers and Board members, the facility has become a jewel of Prince Rupert, and I’m excited to work with them to raise its stature to the national level.”

As a Rupert resident for more than 19 years, Armstrong is familiar with the centre, and the city’s performing arts culture from the many productions on the stage in he has spotlighted. From acting the role of one of the city’s forefathers Charles Hays in 2006 to one of the theatres last live performances before the 2019 COVID shut down as the role of Glenn Cooper in Neil Simon’s Rumours, Armstrong is a good fit for theatre, Margaret Cavin, chair of the board said.

“We chose Chris because of his vision for the Lester Centre, which is inspired by his passion for theatre and for our community,” Cavin said. “Through his past work as a manager, a publisher, and an entrepreneur, he’s looked for ways to unleash the creativity of others. We’re looking forward to helping him elevate the reputation of the theatre even further.”

With Armstrong entering stage right, exiting stage left is general manager John Roper who took up the role eight months ago.

It was to an applauding audience that Roper took his final bow as theatre manager during an evening show on March 18, with his last day being March 21.

Roper said he had enjoyed his time in Prince Rupert, and everything went well initially as he was welcomed into the community. However, arriving in the throws of COVID-19, the city’s housing challenges, and with his family still in the east of the province, the circumstance took its toll on the performance he wanted to give the centre.

“COVID was a dark cloud sort of hovering above. It made it difficult to make concrete plans, including local things as well as plans for the future. Trying to put a season together was difficult, ” he said.

“You know the idea was for me to come down, get my feet wet, literally and figuratively, to test out the waters and to make sure the job was a good fit for me, the community was a good fit for my family. with COVID and everything else I just wasn’t able to get get to the point where I could feel that I was going to be successful.”

“I did have incredible experiences here. I got to see the wide breadth of talent that this community has — I really just saw the tip of the iceberg when it came to that. I’m sad to be going, and I’ll always think of what could have been,” Roper said.

Roper is returning to his roots and his home stage, the Phoenix Theatre in Fort Nelson, where he will continue to work in the industry.

The Lester Centre will be hosting its first productions since the easing of Covid restrictions with the Snowed In Comedy Tour on April 20 and Ken Lavigne: 3 Knights and a Tenor on April 21. At the beginning of May, the BC Annual Dance Competition will be making its return to the community after a hiatus of two years, from April 30-May 7.

K-J Millar | Editor and Multi-Media Journalist 
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