BWW Interviews: Calli Armstrong Talks Beautiful City Theatre and their premier production, GODSPELL, opening January 24

Calli-Armstrong-talks-Beautiful-City-Theatre-and-their-premier-production-GODSPELL-opening-January-24-20010101When you first meet Calli Armstrong of Beautiful City Theatre (BCT), you are instantly taken with her openness and passion.

The arts have been a big part of Armstrong's life for as long as she can remember. She has always been drawn to something in theatre that has to do with self expression and connection with other people. That is one of the reasons she co-founded BCT. To Armstrong, it feels like a necessity to be part of the arts. The idea for BCT began 10 years ago when Armstrong, a drama therapist by trade, currently finishing a doctorate in psychology, felt there was something missing in the productions she was working on. She didn't feel challenged and was extremely frustrated with the politics and egos she was dealing with. She knew there was more to theatre than what she was experiencing. She wanted to create a company where the process was as important as "the product."

Three or so years ago, Armstrong met Natalie Gershtein and things clicked when they realized they equally valued the process of creating a production. While Armstrong had the idea, it only came to fruition when she met Gershtein. Beautiful City Theatre was formed.

BCT's goal is to create and celebrate community through the sharing and exploration of theatre processes and the performance of theatre productions.

Dane Stewart as Jesus and Elizabeth Conway as John the Baptist. Photo by Tristan Brand

Though the decision to name the company BCT was independent from choosing GODSPELL as their premier production, the idea, mandate and values of the company fit in with the lyric, "not a city of angels, but finally a city of man."

GODSPELL, originally conceived and directed in 1971 by John-Michael Telebak, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, is the perfect choiceas BCT's premier production as it is ultimately a tale about a group of people who come together and build a community.

2011 brought a Broadway revival with new, updated versions of some of the songs. BCT's production will feature contemporary arrangements and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, from the 2001 US National Tour. This production will also feature select arrangements by Michael Holland from the 2011 Broadway production. BCT is the first company in Canada to acquire the rights to use this new music.

In order to establish "community" Armstrong arranged for the actors to complete clowning and ensemble building workshops before they began to work on the text or music.

With Armstrong's passion along with BCT's mandate and values, this production of GODSPELL is certain to push BCT to the forefront of independent theatre in Montreal.

GODSPELL opens January 24 and runs through February 2 at the Centaur Theatre, 453 St. Francois-Xavier, Montreal. Showtime is 7:30 PM. For reservations, call (514)288-3161 or visit

For more information on BCT, visit

The cast of Godspell

Photos by Tristan Brand

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Noelle Hannibal Noelle Hannibal was born and raised in Los Angeles. After making her professional theatre debut playing Chrissy in the 20th anniversary production of Hair, Noelle moved to Dublin, Ireland where she starred in Lock Up Your Daughters (Hilaret) and toured with The Bull Alley Theatre Company. After her return to Los Angeles, Noelle appeared in Chicago (Velma Kelly), Gypsy (Mazeppa) and Miss Saigon (Gigi) to name a few. Film and television credits include Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Voyager, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Cracker: Mind Over Murder. She has trained with The Beverly Hills Playhouse, The San Francisco Mime Troupe and renowned vocal coach Ron Anderson. Noelle currently resides in Montreal, QC where she is very active in the theatre community. Noelle is not only a performer, she is also a producer, coach and director. Passionate about arts education, Noelle is also executive director of T3 Triple Threat, a non-profit arts and education organization that is dedicated to enriching the lives of youth in need through the arts.

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