The company of Grand Ghosts (18 people) stands in a group formation in a modern rehearsal space and smiles at the camera. In the background, two large graphic posters are visible: one showcasing two Amish women watering a cannabis plant, the other presenting a woman in clown apparel hugging a man (who is only seen from behind).

World Premiere of Grand Ghosts Recounts Grand Theatre’s Mysterious, Vaudeville Origins

Written by Trina Davies
Directed by Jillian Keiley

On the Spriet Stage
October 18 – November 5, 2022

 

October 12, 2022 – London ON – From October 18th through November 5th, London’s Grand Theatre takes a step back in time to uncover a century-old mystery in the world premiere of Grand Ghosts.  Written by award-winning playwright, Trina Davies, and directed by notable Canadian director, Jillian Keiley, Grand Ghosts features a cast of nine distinctive actors performing incredible vaudeville acts, original new music, and darkly humourous story-telling.

“Like so many Londoners, I grew up hearing the many fantastical and nefarious stories about this strange fellow, named Ambrose Small,” recounts Dennis Garnhum, Grand Theatre Artistic Director. “Fast-forward to 2016, when I began my time as Artistic Director at the Grand, I knew that this was a story that needed to be told. It’s a tale that not only haunts you, but honours the Grand’s intriguing beginnings, while also celebrating the rich history of London.”

On December 2, 1919, Ontario theatre magnate Ambrose J. Small sold all of his theatre holdings, including London’s Grand Theatre, for a record sum. The next day, he went missing – never to be seen again. In his wake, Ambrose left behind his enormous fortune, a jealous wife, a disgruntled employee, gambling buddies, a mistress, and a ghostly mystery waiting to be solved.

In the world premiere of Grand Ghosts, every Halloween, the ghosts who haunt the Grand return to relive what actually happened on that fateful day, over a century ago. Through a ghostly spectacle – bursting with music, dancing, and spectacular vaudeville acts – audiences will be left to decide: what really happened to Ambrose Small?

Grand Ghosts kicks off the Grand’s Spriet Stage series, and has been developed through the Theatre’s signature COMPASS New Play Development Program – dedicated to creating and premiering new work on the Grand’s stages. Playwright Trina Davies, who penned Silence: Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell (2018), began developing the story in 2017 at the ask of Garnhum. Since then, it has gone through many variations and workshops, before coming to fruition in 2022.

A practised writer of biographical fiction, Davies observes: “The Grand started as a vaudeville theatre, and would regularly have travelling acts cross its stage. Bringing the theatre back to its roots, over 100 years later, is truly exciting.”

Taking the helm as director for Grand Ghosts is prominent director and former Artistic Director of English Theatre at the National Arts Centre, Jillian Keiley. Known for her radical innovations in theatre, Keiley takes a fresh and dynamic approach to the ghostly tale, with an emphasis on the high value entertainment aspect of traditional vaudeville theatre.

Grand Ghosts is many things,” notes Keiley. “It is a ghost story, a musical experience, a vaudeville celebration, but most of all it is a love letter to the city of London. We have assembled the most remarkable team of actors, who have been deliberately chosen for their incredible acting skills and their unique talents. They will delight, they will astound, and most of all they will entertain.”

Grand Ghosts brings renowned, multi-disciplinary, Canadian talent to the Spriet Stage. Making their Grand Theatre debut are: Jesse Gervais, Cyrus Lane, Katelyn McCulloch, Christian Murray, Andrew Prashad, Tahirih Vejdani, and Anthony Raymond Yu. Returning cast includes: Tess Benger who has appeared in Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad (2019) and as Sally Bowles in the Grand’s smash hit Cabaret (2018); and Jan Alexandra Smith, who’s selected credits include: Mrs. Ross in The Wars (2018), Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (2018), Tanya in Mamma Mia! (2019), and Johannah Donnelly in the London sensation, Vigilante (2019).

Grand Ghosts is on the Spriet Stage from October 18th through November 5th, 2022. Tickets begin at $35, and are available at www.grandtheatre.com, by phone at 519-672-8800, or at the Box Office, 471 Richmond Street.

The Grand Theatre gratefully acknowledges the continued support of the 2022/23 returning Season Sponsor BMO Financial Group, Grand Ghosts Title Sponsor, BlueStone Properties and COMPASS Development Sponsor, Tourism London.

To learn more about Grand Ghosts, please visit: grandtheatre.com/event/grand-ghosts. Additional facts, photos, and updates can also be found by following @thegrandlondon and #GrandGhosts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

The Grand Theatre wishes to acknowledge and honour the original stewards of the land on which our Theatre stands. Gratitude and recognition are extended to the Attawandaron (also known as Neutral), Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, and Lunaapewak peoples for preserving this land where we gather and create art.

 

 

About the Grand Theatre – World Curious. London Proud.

In the heart of downtown London, Ontario lies one of Canada’s oldest regional theatres and a leading cultural hub of today: the Grand Theatre. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director Evan Klassen, the Grand proudly presents diverse, relevant, and original stories from around the globe – and around the corner – on its two stages. The not-for-profit theatre is committed to developing, producing, and premiering original stories through its COMPASS New Play Development program. Further, it is an ardent supporter of educational programming, as demonstrated through initiatives like the High School Project and Subsidized Student Matinees. For more information, visit: grandtheatre.com.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

 

MEDIA CALL

When:  Tuesday, October 18 at 1:00 p.m. (Cameras, please arrive at 12:30 p.m. to set up)
Where:  Spriet Stage, Grand Theatre, 471 Richmond Street, London, Ontario
What:  Grand Ghosts photo, video, and interview opportunities for media

For more information please contact:
Caitlin Core, Communications Manager
ccore [at] grandtheatre.com
519-672-9030 ext. 266

 

THE CAST

Tess Benger - Ghost 'Ingenue' as: Clara Smith
Jesse Gervais - Ambrose Small
Cyrus Lane - Ghost 'Acrobat' as: John Doughty (Jack)
Katelyn McCulloch - Ghost 'Contortionist Gambler' as: Jennie the Bookie
Christian Murray - Ghost 'Security Guard' as: Mitchell
Andrew Prashad - Emcee
Jan Alexandra Smith - Ghost 'Singing Diva' as: Theresa Small
Tahirih Vejdani - Ghost 'Dramatic Actress' as: Violet
Anthony Raymond Yu - Ghost 'Scaffold Worker' as: Painter/Frank (Contractor)/Hammond
 

THE CREATIVE TEAM

Trina Davies - Playwright
Jillian Keiley - Director
Allen Cole - Music Director, Composer & Pianist
Genny Sermonia - Choreographer
Shawn Kerwin - Set Designer
Joseph Abetria - Costume Designer
Bonnie Beecher - Lighting Designer
Richard Feren - Sound Designer
Andrew Prashad - Tap Dance Choreographer
Suzanne McArthur - Stage Manager
Kelly Boudreau - Assistant Stage Manager
Andrea Handal Rivera - Apprentice Stage Manager