A little cheesy, a little magical, Kitsilano Showboat still has what it takes to draw a crowd after 78 years of entertaining guests.

You’re probably aware of the fact that Kits Showboat performances are free and take place four times a week (7pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) weather permitting, from June to August.

Here are 5 fun facts you probably didn’t know about the old gal’s storied past.

1. It was founded in 1935 by the late Bert Emery who envisioned an outdoor theatre that would sit on the edge of the then four-year-old Kitsilano Pool. At the time, people could practically swim by the stage.

2. The early performance stage was a temporary structure that had to be built up and torn down every summer season until 1963 when it was replaced by a permanent stage.

3. The family responsible for keeping Showboat going all these years are the Lienbachs. Bea Lienbach or “Captain Bea” has been running it since the 1940s. Her son Barry, the current vice-president and producer, remembers when they had to take the temporary boat backdrop home during the off season and keep it in the backyard of the Leinbach’s Kitsilano house.

4. Showboat was launched during the great Great Depression. It provided a venue for entertainers who were out of work because local theatres didn’t have money to pay them, and it provided a place for an entertainment-thirsty but broke audience to go.

5. It’s still 100 per cent volunteer-run, including the entertainment. There is no admission but Showboat does accept donations, collected by passing around a jam tin from the old Woodward’s store.

Last modified: August 12, 2018

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