- Published on Friday, 27 July 2012 16:16
- Written by Michael James | © DrumhellerMail.com
There seems to be no slowing down at the Canadian Badlands Passion Play.
In another sign the Passion Play continues to grow its world class performance, the 2012 production has set a new record for attendance.
On Saturday, July 21, a record 2,647 people came out for a single performance. The same weekend saw the highest numbers in the history of the Passion Play.
“The second weekend was phenomenal,” said Vance Neudorf, Executive Director of the Passion Play.
However, despite the record weekend, overall numbers were roughly 1,000 below the record breaking 2011 season, which also had the 100th performance milestone.
Rainy weather plagued the opening weekend of the 2012 Passion Play. The performance on Saturday, July 14 was cancelled part way through, only the second time in the history of the play a show was cancelled. The performance the next day was beset by a prolonged drizzle.
Neudorf credits word of mouth playing a critical role in bringing in record breaking numbers the following weekend.
“After the first weekend, word of mouth got out about the quality of the play and we saw huge numbers during the second weekend,” said Neudorf.
This year’s performance also saw a noticeable increase in the number of international visitors to the play.
“It might be a spin off of the Calgary Stampede, but we saw a lot more international crowd. As word of mouth spreads and we keep doing what we do, we hope with what we have to offer we will see more of that crowd,” said Neudorf.
Now that the Passion Play has wrapped up the 2012 season, staff will be pouring through the 1,000 evaluations emailed to attendees. So far, roughly 700 people have responded. So far, the response looks good.
“It’s an unheard of response rate on a survey. It’s been positive with glowing reports on how much people loved it. The overall recommendation rate, where we ask if people would recommend seeing the Passion Play, is 98 percent,” said Neudorf.
The survey is sent out each year, but a new question was added this year asking attendees what else they did in Drumheller. The Passion Play is in the process of reviewing the responses and hopes they will provide new insight to the economic impact of the play.
In addition to the survey, the post season will be a chance to work on improving the play. The immediate priority will be fundraising, to help make up for the slightly lower (compared to last year) attendance.
“We’re hoping to move into some fundraising right away. Beyond that, we have a list of things we want to improve. We’re definitely looking at how to make it better serve the public and make it a better place to come. You can have a fantastic play, but you need a facility on par with that,” said Neudorf.
Some areas they hope to improve are adding more washroom facilities and adding more shade. Crews will continue to work on the new forum, finishing seating and adding a roof.
Despite the weather on the first weekend, Neudorf was pleased with how the play went and praised the efforts of the hundreds of volunteers who make the play possible.
“The true heroes of the Passion Play are the 200 volunteers on set performing and working like crazy, and the 160 volunteers at the front of house, who get comments about how nice they are,” said Neudorf. “You can’t ask for better.”