Grand Theatre Announces 2017/18 Season

Written on March 11th, 2017

Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum’s first playbill:
largest season for London, Ontario’s Grand Theatre 

11 plays on 2 stages, 95 actors,
world premiere of
& North American premiere of Chariots of Fire

Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum announced an expanded program that represents the biggest season in the theatre’s history; one that doubles the number of actors on stage, commits to more productions on its two stages, launches new collaborations and co-productions, creates five new initiatives including a new play development program, and kicks off a school tour which will be free of charge. Garnhum arrived at the Grand last fall, and since then the theatre has raised $1.3 million in new donations and sponsorships. The season is proudly sponsored by BMO Financial Group.

The 2017/18 season brings to London renowned artistic talent. Making their Grand debuts are Tara Rosling as Mabel Bell in Silence, Rebecca Northan as the star of Blind Date, Tracey Flye as director of Once, Silence Playwright Trina Davies, and Carey Perloff as director of A Thousand Splendid Suns. Returning artists include Director Peter Hinton on Silence and, after a 20-year hiatus from the Grand, Benedict Campbell will play Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (interesting to note, Campbell’s father Douglas Campbell played Scrooge at the Grand 20 years ago!).

“Since coming to the Grand, I’ve been warmly and generously welcomed not only by the Grand but by the community.  Right away I knew I could dream big for this season,” said Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum. “As we set out to build this playbill and add new programs, the theatre received overwhelming support from the community, here in London and beyond. Together, let’s be World Curious and London Proud.”

The 2017/18 playbill features 11 plays on two stages, a five-concert series, and a school tour.

  • The season showcases the North American premiere of the iconic Chariots of Fire, during which the theatre will be transformed into an Olympic stadium complete with a running track and onstage cheering section; the world premiere of Silence, by the award-winning playwright Trina Davies and the first play of the Grand’s COMPASS New Play Development Program; Rebecca Northan’s international improvisational hit Blind Date; and Garnhum’s own adaptation of A Christmas Carol which also marks his directing debut at the Grand.
  • It introduces new partnerships and co-productions. The electric A Thousand Splendid Suns comes to the Grand in association with San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.). It premiered this February at A.C.T. with a sold-out, record-breaking engagement. Once is a co-production with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, and the High School Project production of  Evita  marks a new partnership with Sheridan College Music Theatre Program (Michael Rubinoff Associate Dean).
  • The theatre’s 144-seat McManus Stage launches a three-show series. The series includes the Grand Theatre’s production of The Glass Menagerie; the return of Ronnie Burkett’s The Daisy Theatre following last season’s sold-out run; and one of Canada’s most talented playwrights, Hannah Moscovitch, comes to London with 2b Theatre to mount the award-winning What A Young Wife Ought to Know.
  • Jeans ‘n Classics, a roaring success in its first year at the Grand, returns with an all new five-concert series.
  • 100 Schools launches this coming season with Beethoven Lives Upstairs, touring schools throughout the region at no cost to the schools or students.
  • New this year, the Grand will host a series of panel discussions featuring internationally acclaimed author Emma Donoghue, award-winning activist and journalist Sally Armstrong, and playwright Daniel MacIvor, to name a few.

Since Garnhum’s arrival as the new Artistic Director last fall, the theatre has driven record donation levels and sponsorships. Deb Harvey, the Grand’s Executive Director, today announced a $1 million donation from long-time supporters of the Grand, Helen and Andy Spriet.  In recognition of this being the largest single gift to the Grand, the main stage will be named Spriet Stage.

About the Grand Theatre
The Grand Theatre, a community hub of creativity, culture, and imagination, stages award-winning work from around the world and Canada under Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director Deb Harvey. This stunning historic theatre, with one of the last remaining proscenium arches in Canada, features two stages, the Spriet Stage (839 seats) and the McManus Stage (144 seats).  The Grand has developed several new innovative programs: COMPASS, a New Play Development Program  designed to put world premieres on stage; 100 Schools, a school outreach program in which a production tours throughout the region at no cost to the school; 1000 Seats which offers complimentary tickets to first-time theatre goers; and the High School Project. The Grand Theatre season runs from September to May.




Book by Enda Walsh
Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
Based on the Motion Picture, Written and Directed by John Carney
Directed by Tracey Flye
Musical Direction by Joseph Tritt
A co-production with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre
October 17 to November 4  | SPRIET STAGE
Based on the award-winning Irish film, and winner of the Tony Award® for Best Musical, Once  is a truly original musical experience. Set in a raucous pub with an ensemble of actor/musicians, Once  tells the enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician on the cusp of giving up his dreams and his chance encounter with a woman who refuses to let him. With a powerful score that features the Academy Award®-winning song Falling Slowly, Once  is that rarest of theatrical events, both intensely moving and irresistibly fun.
Title Sponsor Bluestone Properties | Craft Beer Sponsor Toboggan Brewing Co.



By Charles Dickens
Adapted and Directed by Dennis Garnhum
Featuring Benedict Campbell as Scrooge
November 28 to December 30 | SPRIET STAGE
“Bah, Humbug!” True to Dickens’ timeless story, follow the miserly Scrooge as he is transformed to a warmer, gentler soul after visitations from the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.  This acclaimed adaptation is a glorious family spectacle brimming with music, dance, and pure holiday delight.  It’s the ideal show to celebrate the season!
Title Sponsor London Life




By Trina Davies
Directed by Peter Hinton
Featuring Tara Rosling as Mabel Bell
January 16 to February 3, 2018 | SPRIET STAGE
Alexander Graham Bell connected people around the world by inventing the telephone. But it was of little use to his wife, Mabel, who was profoundly deaf. Written from Mabel’s point of view, the story begins in Nova Scotia as Mabel reflects back on her life with Bell. Together they inspired and challenged each other to become strong, original forces for good.  A beautiful (and true) love story about how we communicate.
Title Sponsor Bell



Starring Rebecca Northan
A Spontaneous Theatre creation by Rebecca Northan
February 13 to March 3, 2018 | SPRIET STAGE
Experience all the exhilaration and excitement of new love as Mimi goes on a blind date with a different man every night – plucked right out of the audience! Straight from sold-out runs in New York, London’s West End, and Toronto, this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants fusion of clown, improv, theatre, and social experiment is sure to make you fall in love with Mimi and celebrate her audience-member-turned-Romantic-Hero.
Title Sponsor McCormick



In association with American Conservatory Theater
Adapted by Ursula Rani Sarma
Based on a Novel by Khaled Hosseini
Directed by Carey Perloff
March 13 to 31, 2018 | SPRIET STAGE
From its acclaimed world premiere engagement with San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) comes an extraordinary story about the strength of the human spirit. Based on the international best-selling novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns is the story of three generations of women bound together by marriage, family, and a secret past in war-ravaged Afghanistan. With original music by David Coulter (Kronos Quartet).
Title Sponsor Selectpath




Stage Adaptation by Mike Bartlett
Screenplay by Colin Welland
Directed by Dennis Garnhum
April 17 to May 5, 2018 | SPRIET STAGE
Based on the iconic, Academy Award®-winning film, this immersive stage adaptation captures the triumphant spirit of the beloved classic in a production both epic and intimate. It is the true story of two British athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics: Harold Abrahams, the son of a Lithuanian immigrant Jew who runs to overcome prejudice and Eric Liddell, a devout Christian who runs for the glory of God, both united in the relentless pursuit of their dream.
Title Sponsor 3M




Created and Performed by Ronnie Burkett
Music and Sound Design by John Alcorn
Stage Managed by Crystal Salverda
October 23 to November 4, 2017 | McMANUS STAGE
Unscripted and delightfully irreverent, Ronnie returns to manipulate and voice a cast of 40-plus marionettes in this variety show for grown-ups. Outrageous, bawdy, and deliriously fun, the line-up changes every night making for a see-it-more-than-once experience. Audiences and critics alike fall in love with the ridiculous, tender, fascinating antics of The Daisy Theatre.


A 2b Theatre Production


By Hannah Moscovitch
Directed by Christian Barry
February 6 to 10, 2018 | McMANUS STAGE
Set in 1920s Canada, award-winning playwright Hannah Moscovitch tells the story of Sophie, a young working-class wife who is repressed by a lack of sexual education and craves liberation. Inspired by letters written to a famous British birth-control advocate, the play beautifully uses the past to reflect the present.



By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Megan Watson
April 3 to 14, 2018  | McMANUS STAGE
One of the great literary masterpieces, Tennessee Williams’ very personal play is based on his troubled early years. In this startling, poignant drama, Tom Wingfield attempts to free himself from the family that haunts him.



In partnership with Sheridan College Musical Theatre Program


By Tim Rice
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Directed and Choreographed by Jan Alexandra Smith
Musical Direction by Andrew Petrasiunas
September 19 to 30, 2017 | SPRIET STAGE
Evita is based on the true story of María Eva Duarte de Perón, a poor Argentinian girl who grew up to be the wife of the president and worshipped by her people. As First Lady of Argentina, she aligns herself with the poor, winning herself – and Perón – unprecedented popularity. This blockbuster musical from the writer of Phantom of the Opera, Cats, and Jesus Christ Superstar was made even more famous as a 1996 Hollywood film starring Madonna and Antonio Banderas.

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