The poster lounge in London’s Grand Theatre was crowded Wednesday afternoon, with a large group of subscribers, the cast of Pride and Prejudice, the cast of Macbeth, and a smattering of media representatives on hand, as Susan Ferley described the upcoming season.
She had some amazing help with her descriptions – thanks to a group of High School Project students. Eight students sang on cue: Alexandra Smither, Christine McKeon, Rebecca McCauley, Imogen Wasse, A. J. MacDonald, Jacob Simon, Matthew Fuller and Quentin Hall. The young people were directed by Rick Kish and accompanied by Mark Smith on piano.
Ms. Ferley immediately led us down the garden path. The young people sang Comedy Tonight which left the crowd thinking the Grand was planning A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. I’m trying to calculate in my head – it wasn’t that many years ago they did it. And Stratford just did it last year – and Grand Bend the year before that. So by the time Comedy Tonight is over, I’m starting to wonder about this choice. But no, “Funny Thing….” is not the show. They are opening the fall season with Side by Side by Sondheim. Comedy Tonight will be among the tunes that are Sondheim favourites – also songs from West Side Story, Gypsy, A Little Night Music, and more.
Next the young people launched into a lengthy medley – Jacob & Sons, Any Dream Will Do, the cowboy tune Angel in Heaven, the Elvis-like King song, Close Every Door, and of course, Go-Go-Go Joseph. After which, Ms. Ferley suggested that we should all go-go-go see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat which will be at the Grand in November-December. Kerry Gage will be choreographer, and Ms. Ferley said that she is looking forward to including some High School Project alumni who are now working in professional theatre. She also hopes to include students from St. Mary’s Choir school and L. B. Pearson School for the Arts in the children’s chorus.
The Grand wants to warm us up next January with Kingfisher Days, a story about a retired teacher and a young child during a summer at the cottage in Canada. In February, they will offer Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure. It is, of course, a mystery as Holmes takes on his arch-enemy Professor Moriarty, a story of friendship between Holmes and Watson, and there is even romance with Holmes and Irene Adler.
In March, the Grand will present Shirley Valentine, which Ms. Ferley describes as timely story of a “woman’s journey of self-discovery” on the sunny coast of Greece.
The season will wrap up with The Hobbit, where Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, is recruited by Gandalf to retrieve the treasure and ensure peace. This pre-quel to Lord of the Rings will be popular with all ages.
The season will actually begin with Anything Goes in September – the 2010 High School Project. There will be plenty of tap-dancing in this Cole Porter favourite, with Director Heather Davis, Musical Director David Hall, Choreographer Amy Wright and Singing Coach Rick Kish.
In short, the very entertaining line-up includes:
HIGH SCHOOL PROJECT: ANYTHING GOES – SEPTEMBER 21 – OCTOBER 2
SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM – OCTOBER 19 – NOVEMBER 6
JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT – NOVEMBER 24 – JANUARY 2
KINGFISHER DAYS – JANUARY 18 – FEBRUARY 5, 2011
SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE FINAL ADVENTURE – FEBRUARY 15 – MARCH 5
SHIRLEY VALENTINE – MARCH 22 – APRIL 9
THE HOBBIT – APRIL 27 – MAY 26