Theatre in Covid Times

Scroll through this list to see what some of Ontario’s theatres have planned.

Summer/Fall 2021 – Thousand Islands Playhouse, Gananoque
Managing Artistic Director Brett Christopher has unveiled Thousand Islands Playhouse’s plans to return to the stage for the 2021 season. “In 2004, the Playhouse added a smaller, flexible venue to its operations in order to expand the company’s ability to innovate. Today, that decision will mean that we are able to produce theatre in 2021.” Running July 8 to October 31, the “bridge to brighter days” season will offer four full productions on the Firehall Theatre stage. An outdoor, open-air tent will be part of the experience and every production run will also include streamed performances. Season includes Sexy Laundry, Back in ’69, Serving Elizabeth, Miss Caledonia. Visit their website for details.

September 7 to October 3 – Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
Re-opening with Songs We Love, with Alex Baerg, Michael Vanhevel, Jennifer Walls, Mark Payne.

September through December 2021 – Upper Canada Playhouse, Morrisburg
Reopening with Covid Protocols in place.
Johnny and June – September 7 through 19
Old Love – September 23 through October 30
Leisa Way’s Sweet Dreams: A Tribute to Patsy Cline – November 2 through 14
Lucien In Trumpland – November 16 through 28
Rockin’ Round The Christmas Tree with Leisa Way and her fabulous band – November 30 through December 19

July through December 2021 – The Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake
The Shaw Festival plans to open live theatre with their “duty of care” in place. 
The Devil’s Disciple
Festival Theatre – July 6 to October 9
A comedy, an adventure and a love story set at the height of the American Revolution.

Sherlock Holmes and The Raven’s Curse
Festival Theatre – July 23 to October 10
Family reunions can be murder.

Charley’s Aunt
Royal George Theatre – July 7 to October 10
A celebrated farce that will have you rolling in the aisles.

Royal George Theatre – July 8 to October 2
The adventures of Flush, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s beloved dog in Italy.

Desire Under the Elms
Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre – October 15 to December 12
Rural New England provides the setting for Eugene O’Neill’s dramatic American classic.

Trouble in Mind
Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre – August 8 to October 9
Racial tension needs no dress rehearsal. A groundbreaking, forgotten classic of Black American Theatre from the Fifties.

A Christmas Carol (2021)
Royal George Theatre – November 12 to December 23
Ebenezer Scrooge is back! Arrive feeling “Bah, humbug!” and leave full of warm, fuzzy Christmas spirit.

Holiday Inn
Festival Theatre – November 14 to December 23
A beloved musical, perfect to ring in the holiday season!

See their calendar for tickets:
Read about their Covid-19 protocol under Duty of Care:
And in the meantime, check out some online entertainment in the Shaw from Home section on

Summer 2021 – Stratford Festival, Stratford
With hope that lockdown, vaccinations pave way for brighter times
Support for the 2021 season of the Festival Theatre Canopy is generously provided by Daniel Bernstein & Claire Foerster.

Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women
Directed by Diana Leblanc
Featuring: Martha Henry as A, Lucy Peacock as B, Mamie Zwettler as C, Andrew Iles as The Boy
June 24 to July 25 | Opening Saturday, July 3
By turns acerbic, anguished and sarcastically funny, an old woman known to us only as “A” lays bare her inner life in sometimes shocking detail to two others: a middle-aged caregiver identified only as “B” and a young legal professional, “C.”
Originally programmed for the 2020 season, Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, which he called an “exorcism” of his own troubled relationship with his adoptive mother, is a profound meditation on aging, death and the very nature of the self: who are we really, and how do we become who we are?
In keeping with pandemic precautions, the play’s two parts – the second of which brings a startlingly different take on its characters – will be presented as separate performances, scheduled to be seen on the same day. Each ticket includes both parts.
Production support is generously provided by Sylvia D. Chrominska, Dr. Desta Leavine in memory of Pauline Leavine, Sylvia Soyka, The Westaway Charitable Foundation and by Jack Whiteside.

R + J
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Ravi Jain
Produced in collaboration with Why Not Theatre
Featuring: Dante Jemmott as Romeo, Eponine Lee as Juliet, Alex Bulmer as the Friar and Chorus, Tom Rooney as the Nurse, Lisa Nasson
August 12 to September 26 | Opening Sunday, August 15
They say that love is blind – and with blindness comes the freedom to open the mind’s eye to a world of limitless possibility. Likewise, the challenge of staging the world’s most famous love story in a time of physical distancing brings with it the opportunity to explore modes of theatrical presentation that are both unexpectedly novel and as old as the art of storytelling itself.
Intended for blind, low-vision and sighted audiences alike, this radically reimagined version of Shakespeare’s beloved romantic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, invites you into an up-to-the-minute modern world of sound and music, a world that challenges the identities we construct when we use only our eyes, a world in which the entrenched hostilities of an older generation are challenged by the passions of young people who only want to love.
Production support is generously provided by Dr. M. Lee Myers and by Catherine & David Wilkes.

Why We Tell the Story
A Celebration of Black Musical Theatre
Curated and directed by Marcus Nance
Music Director: Franklin Brasz
Featuring: Marcus Nance, Robert Markus, Vanessa Sears
June 24 to July 11 | Opening Saturday, June 26
Throughout the ages the African-American community has told stories of life, love, pain and hope through the glorious expressions of musical theatre and poetry. This update of the sold-out 2019 Meighen Forum concert, takes you on a journey with the voices of legendary Black poets and the music of the African-American musical theatre canon, including hits from AidaAin’t Misbehavin’Caroline, or ChangeThe Color PurpleHamiltonThe Lion KingOnce On This IslandShowboat and many more. As Maya Angelou said: “Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave.”
Production support is generously provided by Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin.

You Can’t Stop the Beat
The Enduring Power of Musical Theatre
Curated and directed by Thom Allison
Music Director: Laura Burton
Featuring: Alana Hibbert, Gabrielle Jones, Evangelia Kambites, Mark Uhre
July 15 to July 31 | Opening Sunday, July 18
What is it about musical theatre that captures the hearts of millions of fans? Through wars, disasters, heartbreaks and triumphs, musicals have been there to give us a way to understand the human experience and flourish. Has there ever been a better way to represent our inner lives than in glorious Technicolor and song? This tune-filled ride celebrates why musicals have always been the ultimate tonic for the soul in good or troubled times.
Production support is generously provided by Nona Macdonald Heaslip.

Play On!
A Shakespeare-Inspired Mixtape
Curated by Robert Markus, Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis
Directed by Julia Nish-Lapidus and James Wallis
Music Director: Reza Jacobs
Featuring: Gabriel Antonacci, Celeste Catena, Jacob MacInnis, Jennifer Rider-Shaw
July 29 to August 15 | Opening Saturday, July 31
Shakespeare’s influence on Western culture extends even into your favourite pop hits. Whether it be direct lines from his plays appearing in Top 40 lyrics or whole songs inspired by his plots, whether the borrowers be Taylor Swift, Madonna, Elton John, The Beatles, Prince or Radiohead, Shakespeare is still there, lurking in the mainstream, as cool and as relevant as ever. This lively celebration of terrific tunes affords a great opportunity to introduce a younger audience to Shakespeare’s continuing role in popular culture.
Production support is generously provided by Barbara & John Schubert.

Spirit and Legacy of Black Music
Curated and directed by Beau Dixon
Music Director: Beau Dixon
Featuring: Robert Ball, Beau Dixon, Camille Eanga-Selenge
August 19 to September 5 | Opening Saturday, August 21
From the moment Black people landed on North American soil, their music took root and became the basis for much of the popular music we hear today. There is an endless list of exceptional Black musicians who have been lost to history while their white counterparts gained fame. From church hymnals to the blues, from jazz to rock ’n’ roll, R&B and rap, we owe much of our musical history to Black culture, and it’s time to give credit where it is due.
Production support is generously provided by Mary Ann & Robert Gorlin and by Sylvia Soyka.

Finally There’s Sun
A Cabaret of Resilience
Curated and directed by Sara Farb and Steve Ross
Music Director: Franklin Brasz
Featuring: Noah Beemer, Sara Farb, Germaine Konji, Steve Ross September 9 to September 26 | Opening Sunday, September 12
Reflecting on this “great pause” as we move forward and get back to living freely, Finally There’s Sun takes you on a musical journey through a year of enormous change and growth. It explores the isolation, the loneliness, the upheaval and the unexpected silver linings that came out of a time like no other.
Production support is generously provided by Jody & Deborah Hamade and by Dr. Robert & Roberta Sokol.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Peter Pasyk
Featuring: Eva Foote as Hermia, Craig Lauzon as Oberon and Theseus, Trish Lindström as Puck and Egeus, Jonathan Mason as Demetrius, André Sills as Bottom, Amaka Umeh as Helena, Micah Woods as Lysander, Bahareh Yaraghi as Titania and Hippolyta
June 22 to July 25 | Opening Saturday, June 26
Spellbound lovers, quarrelling fairies, tradesmen with a fervour for amateur theatricals: they’re all mixed up together in the surreal world of Shakespeare’s great comedy of dreaming and desire.
This deep dive into the sometimes unsettlingly dark and dangerous realms of the subconscious famously culminates in a play within the play: a hilariously inept performance by Nick Bottom and his fellow would-be actors. But even as we laugh at the ham-fisted efforts of these “rude mechanicals,” we are won over by their heartfelt belief in the power of the imagination.
Taking its cue from that insight, this production deploys the most fundamental techniques of theatrical art in a magically inventive staging of a play that is itself a celebration of the imagination at its most extreme.
Production support is generously provided by the Harkins & Manning families in memory of Jim & Susan Harkins.

The Rez Sisters
By Tomson Highway
Directed by Jessica Carmichael
Featuring: Jani Lauzon as Pelajia Patchnose, Brefny Caribou as Zhaboonigan Peterson, Nicole Joy-Fraser as Annie Cook, Kathleen MacLean as Emily Dictionary, Zach Running Coyote as Nanabush, Michaela Washburn as Marie-Adele Starblanket
July 13 to August 15 | Opening Thursday, July 17
They have their dreams and their difficulties, these seven women. One yearns for a singing career; another for a white porcelain toilet. One grieves for her lover, killed in a motorcycle accident; another harbours the memory of a horrific sexual assault. The cancer that afflicts one of them is not the only malignancy they confront.
But one dream they hold in common is that of winning “the biggest bingo in the world” – and one day, accompanied by the transformative spirit guide Nanabush, they leave their Manitoulin Island reserve and set out for Toronto to do just that.
Ribald, harrowing and mystical, this seminal work of Indigenous drama celebrates the spirit of resilience and the powerful beauty these women bring to the tough world in which they live.
Production support is generously provided by Karon C. Bales & Charles E. Beall and by M. Fainer.

Schulich Children’s Plays
I Am William
Text by Rébecca Déraspe
Music by Chloé Lacasse and Benoit Landry
English translation by Leanna Brodie
Book, lyrics and score developed at Théâtre Le Clou
Directed by Esther Jun
Choreographed by Alyssa Martin
Music Director: Njo Kong Kie
Featuring: Shakura Dickson as Margaret, Landon Doak as Will, Allan Louis as John and the Earl of Leicester, Shannon Taylor as Mary and Queen Elizabeth I
August 4 to September 5 | Opening Sunday, August 8
Margaret Shakespeare has a dazzling talent for writing, which she yearns to put to serious use. But in an age lethally suspicious of female intellect and literacy, how can she find a way to fulfil her authorial ambitions yet still survive? Fortunately, she has a brother, William, who isn’t much of a writer but who wants to make it as an actor – and friends in high places have just the role for him.
Tapping into our fascination with the enigma of William Shakespeare’s life and how he came to write those plays – and the seemingly endless speculation in some quarters about whether he really did – this light-hearted yet genuinely passionate interweaving of comedy, song and poetic fancy spins a playful and witty yarn that will delight younger audiences and adults alike.

Serving Elizabeth
By Marcia Johnson
Directed by Kimberley Rampersad
Produced by special arrangement with Thousand Islands Playhouse
Featuring: Sean Arbuckle as Talbot and Maurice, Cameron Grant as Montague and Steve (Casting in progress)
August 24 to September 26 | Opening Saturday, August 28
In Kenya in 1952, Mercy, a restaurant proprietor, is hired to cater the impending visit of Princess Elizabeth. Meanwhile, in England in 2015, a young Kenyan-born Canadian, Tia, is working as an intern on a TV drama series about the British royal family – while writing a script of her own that re-envisions that 1952 visit from an African perspective.
These two time-frames intersect, with a twist, as Tia, in 2015, confronts the series screenwriter about his blind spots and biases, while Mercy, in 1952, does the same with the young queen-to-be.
Audiences are certain to enjoy this ingenious contemporary drama that keeps us guessing as it explores issues of colonialism, nationalism and the question of who gets to have a voice.
Production support is generously provided by John & Therese Gardner and by the Tremain Family.

For more information call the box office at 1.800.567.1600 or visit

Summer 2021 – The Blyth Festival, Blyth, Ontario
Five Canadian productions. Each featuring a lone storyteller.  All performed under the wide open Huron County sky, on the newly built Blyth Festival Harvest Stage, at the Blyth Fairgrounds.
Occupying roughly a five acre natural amphitheatre at the North/West corner of the Blyth Fairgrounds, and backing right onto the Goderich to Guelph rail trail, a brand new, wrap around open air theatre, The Blyth Festival Harvest Stage will be a permanent addition to the Blyth Festival seasons moving forward.

Assassinating Thomson by Bruce Horak – September 15 to Sept. 25
Bruce Horak plays himself in this show, his Blyth festival debut; A gifted performer and a brilliant
visual artist, Bruce has been legally blind since childhood. In ASSASSINATING THOMSON, Horak
shares the unique way he sees the world while exploring the truth and lies behind the mysterious
death of one of Canada’s greatest artists and unofficial 8th member of the Group of Seven, Tom Thomson.
Weaving the famous painters’ biography with the story of the loss of his own vision,
Bruce draws the audience into a deep connection to life and the true value of art. Throughout the
performance Bruce paints a live portrait of an audience member.

Jewel by Joan MacLeod – September 22 to October 3
A breath-takingly beautiful, funny and heart-breaking play about a young couple who buy a cattle
ranch in Alberta. To pay the mortgage, the husband takes a job in the oil patch for half the year.
When he’s offered the chance to work on a rig in Newfoundland, the couple see a clear way to fulfill
their dreams. An unspeakable loss leads this young wife to relive the greatest love of her life; from
their first Valentine’s day, to their last. Originally premiered in 1987, this stunning Canadian classic,
will be performed by Rebecca Auerbach and directed by JD Nicholsen.


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