Principal Casting Preview

The Grand Theatre Announces

2019/20 Season Principal Casting Preview

World Curious London Proud

LONDON, ON, October 4, 2019 – Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum has announced principal casting for the 2019/20 season including Deborah Hay and Mark Uhre in Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s MARY POPPINS, Gavin Crawford, who takes on all 40 roles in the hilarious FULLY COMMITTED, Rebecca Northan in EVERY BRILLIANT THING and THIS LONDON LIFE, and Alexis Gordon starring as Ma in the North American premiere in ROOM, based on the award-winning novel by Emma Donoghue.

“This year, we are celebrating London in many ways,” says Dennis Garnhum. “Our city’s stories and people are a vital part of this season at the Grand, from Morris Panych’s hilarious take on the absurdities of being the ‘other’ London, to artists like Deborah Hay and Emma Donoghue, whose performances and work will shine on our stages, and to our new 100 Schools tour production, inspired by our city’s own students.” The 11 productions across two stages include two world premieres, a North American premiere, and new works by exciting Canadian visionaries, allowing the Grand to continue bringing the world to London, and London to the world.

The 2019/20 season launches in October with the world premiere comedy, THIS LONDON LIFE, commissioned by the Grand through COMPASS, our New Play Development program. Written and directed by award-winning Canadian actor and playwright, Morris Panych, THIS LONDON LIFE “tells the story of two Londons, parodying their many similarities—and their differences,” describes Dennis Garnhum.  After a successful run of BLIND DATE at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Rebecca Northan returns as the morally questionable Mrs. Simpson. Making his Grand Theatre debut is Ryan Shaw, a young elementary student from Petrolia, Ontario.  Allister MacDonald plays Jimmy, a man who arrives in ‘this’ London, but is under the impression he is in ‘that’ London.

In the tradition of grand holiday productions, audiences will delight in the classic musical, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s MARY POPPINS, soaring onto the Spriet Stage, November 26 to December 29. The magical production will feature the talents of Deborah Hay as Mary Poppins, and Mark Uhre as Bert, as they both return home to London in this wonder-filled story that combines what Dennis Garnhum describes as “uplifting melodies and big-hearted characters.” Also joining the cast of Mary Poppins is Jan Alexandra Smith, as The Birdwoman and Miss Andrew.

Gavin Crawford, well-known for his weekly CBC Radio show Because News, as well as his eight successful years on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, will start the new year off with a “fast-paced, tour-de-force performance” in the one person show, FULLY COMMITTED, directed by Steven Gallagher.

Alexis Gordon, who plays Winifred Banks in Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s MARY POPPINS, will return to the Grand in March, taking on the role of Ma, in Emma Donoghue’s stage adaptation of her award-winning novel ROOM. Presented in partnership with Covent Garden Productions and David Mirvish, the play makes its Canadian debut on the Spriet Stage in London, the home of Ms. Donoghue, before moving to the CAA Theatre in Toronto.

The Grand Theatre is also excited to celebrate Indigenous Canadian storytelling with the stunning play HONOUR BEAT, written by Tara Beagan and directed by Falen Johnson, co-host of the CBC podcast The Secret Life of Canada.

Closing the season on the Spriet Stage, the Grand Theatre will present the funny and heartwarming new Canadian musical, GROW. Before they must commit to the Amish faith forever, 19-year-old twins Hannah and Ruth leave the comfort of their sheltered community to explore the outside world for the first time. After finding themselves stranded in one of Toronto’s roughest neighbourhoods, all their plans go up in smoke and they end up working at an illegal marijuana grow-op. GROW is an outrageously fun, big-hearted musical, that explores sisterhood, community, and the legalization of a once-forbidden weed. Another successful production developed through the Canadian Music Theatre Project at Sheridan College, GROW is written by Matt Murray, and features songs by Colleen Dauncey and Akiva Romer-Segal (THE LOUDER WE GET formerly PROM QUEEN).

The Grand’s McManus Stage features four plays this season, starting with Human Cargo Theatre’s THE RUNNER, a Dora Award-winning production starring Gord Rand as Jacob, the Z.A.K.A. volunteer.

Actor, director, playwright, and improviser, Rebecca Northan, makes a second appearance at the Grand Theatre in the one-person show EVERY BRILLIANT THING. Playing on the McManus Stage January 21 to February 2, 2020, the show explores the question “what makes life worth living?”  Described by The Guardian as “one of the funniest plays you will ever see about depression,” the production will prompt audiences to reflect upon the every-day, small joys that keep us living.

The McManus line-up finishes with a powerful piece, BETWEEN BREATHS, from Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland. Based on the life of Dr. Jon Lein—known as “the Whale Man”— the play moves backwards in time from his final moments, through his incredible work rescuing whales, while he struggles with relentless paralysis and dementia.

JUNO’S REWARD, a new play written by Artistic Associate Megan Watson, will come to the McManus for March Break. Starring Natalia Gracious, Stephen Ingram, and Faly Mevamanana, the production will also feature new music from Natalia’s brother Richard Gracious, a local singer-songwriter. JUNO’S REWARD will also be featured in this year’s 100 School’s Program which tours elementary school gymnasiums and auditoriums across London and surrounding area from February 20 to May 15, 2020, all at no cost to the schools.

For additional casting and creative team preview listings, see the following pages.

Tickets for the 2019/20 Season are now on sale at grandtheatre.com, by phone, and at the box office.  

The Grand Theatre 2019/20 Season is proudly sponsored by BMO Financial Group. 

About the Grand Theatre

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director Deb Harvey, the Grand is a leading cultural hub proudly located in the heart of downtown London, Ontario. The Grand offers diverse, relevant, and original stories from around the globe through collaborations with national and international performing arts organizations and is committed to developing, producing, and premiering original homegrown stories through COMPASS, a New Play Development Program. The Grand supports educational programming and youth mentorship such as the High School Project, the only program of its kind in North America, and 100 Schools, a community initiative that brings professional theatre to London area schools at no cost.

A not-for-profit regional theatre, the Grand produces and presents professional theatre on two stages: the Spriet Stage (839 seats) and the McManus Stage (144 seats). The Grand’s season runs from September to May.

For more information, including artists’ bios, contact:
Jennifer Matthews, Communications Manager
519 672 9030 ext. 411  jmatthews [at] grandtheatre [dot] com

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THIS LONDON LIFE

By Morris Panych
October 15 to November 2, 2019

CAST

RAE-ANN  Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks
JIMMY Allister MacDonald
MRS. SIMPSON Rebecca Northan
WALTER WINCH  Ryan Shaw
EMERY  Braeden Soltys
NAN Wendy Thatcher

CREATIVE  TEAM

PLAYWRIGHT Morris Panych
DIRECTOR Morris Panych
SET & COSTUME DESIGNER Ken MacDonald
LIGHTING DESIGNER Kim Purtell
SOUND DESIGNER Keith Thomas
STAGE MANAGER Suzanne McArthur
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER Sandi Becker
APPRENTICE STAGE MANAGER Darius Hahn
CHILD SUPERVISOR  Linda Martin
CHILD SUPERVISOR Chrystine Robinson

THE RUNNER

By Christopher Morris
Presented by Human Cargo Theatre
November 5 to 16, 2019

CAST

JACOB  Gord Rand

CREATIVE TEAM

PLAYWRIGHT Christopher Morris
DIRECTOR Daniel Brooks
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR Severn Thompson
SET & COSTUME DESIGNER Gillian Gallow
LIGHTING DESIGNER Bonnie Beecher
COMPOSER & SOUND DESIGNER Alexander MacSween
PRODUCTION MANAGER
& ASSOCIATE LIGHTING DESIGNER
Jeff Prybus
STAGE MANAGER  Judy Farthing
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER Ada Aguilar
PRODUCER    Devon Jackson
GRAPHIC DESIGNER  Eric Dizon
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR of
NAPESH THEATRE TEL AVIV
Howard Rypp

Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s

MARY POPPINS

A Musical based on the stories of P.L Travers and the Walt Disney film
November 26 to December 29, 2019

CAST

MRS. CORY Christy Adamson
MICHAEL BANKS Hayden Baertsoen
NELEUS Jak Baradell
GEORGE BANKS Ben Carlson
ENSEMBLE  Michael Cox
WINIFRED BANKS Alexis Gordon
ENSEMBLE Josh Graetz
MARY POPPINS Deborah Hay
MRS. BRILL Phoebe Hu
ENSEMBLE  Heather Kosik
ENSEMBLE  Jamie Murray
ENSEMBLE  Shakeil Rollock
ENSEMBLE  Antonette Rudder
ENSEMBLE  Michele Shuster
BIRD WOMAN/MISS ANDREW Jan Alexandra Smith
ROBERTSON AY Giovanni Spina
BERT Mark Uhre
JANE BANKS   Abigail Verhaeghe
ENSEMBLE  Sandy Winsby
ENSEMBLE  Robert Yeretch

CREATIVE TEAM

DIRECTOR    Megan Watson
MUSICAL DIRECTOR Craig Fair
CHOREOGRAPHER Stephen Cota
SET DESIGNER Lorenzo Savoini
COSTUME DESIGNER Dana Osborne
LIGHTING DESIGNER Bonnie Beecher
PROJECTION DESIGNER Jamie Nesbitt
SOUND DESIGNER Brian Kenny
STAGE MANAGER  Kelly Luft
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER Jordan Guetter
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER Katerina Sokyrko
APPRENTICE STAGE MANAGER  Skye Monoghan
CHILD SUPERVISOR   Cassandra di Felice
CHILD SUPERVISOR   Linda Martin
CHILD SUPERVISOR   Heather Raycraft
CHILD SUPERVISOR   Chrystine Robinson

FULLY COMMITTED

By Becky Mode and Mark Setlock
January 14 – January 26, 2020

CAST

SAM Gavin Crawford

CREATIVE TEAM

DIRECTOR Steven Gallagher
SET DESIGNER    Michael Gianfrancesco
LIGHTING DESIGNER Michael Walton
SOUND DESIGNER Verne Good
STAGE MANAGER  Michael Hart
APPRENTICE STAGE MANAGER Cody Burns

EVERY BRILLIANT THING

By Duncan Macmillan
with Jonny Donahoe
January 21 to February 2, 2020

CAST

NARRATOR Rebecca Northan

CREATIVE TEAM

DIRECTOR Liza Balkan
SET & LIGHTING DESIGNER Poe Limkul
SOUND DESIGNER Richard Feren
STAGE MANAGER Renate Hanson
APPRENTICE STAGE MANAGER Zack Grosh

HONOUR BEAT

By Tara Beagan
February 4 to February 22, 2020

CAST

ANNA-RAE Andrea Menard
RAE-ANNA Tracey  Nepinak

CREATIVE  TEAM

PLAYWRIGHT  Tara Beagan
DIRECTOR Falen Johnson
SET DESIGNER Tamara Marie Kucheran
COSTUME DESIGNER Samantha McCue
PROJECTION DESIGNER Alex Williams
SOUND DESIGNER Verne Good
STAGE MANAGER  Chantal Hayman
APPRENTIC STAGE MANAGER Jessica Campbell-Maracle

BETWEEN BREATHS

By Robert Chafe
Presented by Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland
February 25 to March 7, 2020

CAST

Brianna Gosse
Darryl Hopkins
Steve Maloney
Steve O’Connell
Berni Stapleton
Kevin Woolridge

CREATIVE  TEAM

PLAYWRIGHT Robert Chafe
DIRECTOR Jillian Keiley
MUSICAL DIRECTOR Kellie Walsh
SET & COSTUME DESIGNER Shawn Kerwin
LIGHTING DESIGNER Leigh Ann Vardy
ASSISTANT LIGHTING DESIGNER Emily Sousanna
ORIGINAL MUSIC BY The Once
SOUND DESIGNER
& TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
Brian Kenny
ASSISTANT SOUND DESIGN Pat Dempsey
PRODUCER & TOUR MANAGER Patrick Foran
STAGE MANAGER Mara Bredovskis

ROOM

By Emma Donoghue
Music & Lyrics by Cora Bissett
and Kathryn Joseph
Presented by Grand Theatre, Covent Garden Productions, and David Mirvish
Original Partners: Theatre Royal Stratford East, National Theatre of Scotland, and Abbey Theatre in Dublin

March 10 to March 28, 2020

CAST

GRANDAD Stewart Arnott
BIG JACK Brandon Michael Arrington
GRAN Tracey Ferencz
MA Alexis Gordon
INTERVIEWER/POLICE OFFICER Shannon Taylor
OLD NICK Ashley Wright

CREATIVE TEAM

PLAYWRIGHT Emma Donoghue
DIRECTOR Cora Bissett
SET & COSTUME DESIGNER Lily Arnold
LIGHTING DESIGNER Bonnie Beecher
PROJECTION DESIGNER Andrezj Goulding
SOUND DESIGNER  John Gzowski
STAGE MANAGER  Bea Campbell
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER Suzanne McArthur
APPRENTICE STAGE MANAGER Cody Burns
CHILD SUPERVISOR Linda Martin
CHILD SUPERVISOR Chrystine Robinson

GROW

Book by Matt Murray
Music by Colleen Dauncey
Lyrics by Akiva Romer-Segal
April 14 to May 2, 2020

CAST

ENSEMBLE Clea McCaffery
SAMUEL Izad Etemadi
GLORIA Christina Gordon
HANNAH  Arinea Hermans
SKOR Adam Sanders
RUTH  Jenny Weisz

CREATIVE  TEAM

DIRECTOR Dennis Garnhum
MUSIC SUPERVISOR/ORCHESTRATIONS Wayne Gwillim
CHOREOGRAPHER Linda Garneau
SET & COSTUME DESIGN Bretta Gerecke
STAGE MANAGER Kelly Luft
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER Andrea Baggs
APPRENTICE STAGE MANAGER Darius Hahn

JUNO’S REWARD

By Megan Watson
London and Area Tour
February 20 to May 15, 2020

March Break on the McManus
March 16 to March 21, 2020

CAST

Natalia Gracious
Stephen Ingram
Faly Mevamanana

CREATIVE TEAM

PLAYWRIGHT Megan Watson
DIRECTOR Megan Watson
SET & COSTUME DESIGNER Christine Urquhart
STAGE MANAGER Anna Spencer

                      

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