A Conversation with Cathy Burns of the Lyric Theatre Singers

A Conversation with Cathy Burns of the Lyric Theatre Singers
Photo by Laurie-Anne Jean-Baptiste

Cathy Burns was born and raised in Dorval, a suburb just outside Montreal, the fifth of seven children. She attended John XIII High School in Dorval, which was known for it's excellent Drama Department. All of her siblings went through the John XXIII Drama Department and excelled, most receiving special recognition, "a Burns tradition." One thing that set the school apart was that students would perform with the faculty, so all the actors were able to play age specific roles. Her father was the Director General of the school, but was also a radio announcer for the CBC. Burns' father and mother met doing amateur theatre, so she was exposed to the arts at a very early age.

A Conversation with Cathy Burns of the Lyric Theatre Singers
Photo by Tam Lan Truong

After graduating high school, Burns wasn't sure if she wanted to go into theatre as she also had a love for teaching and children. She went into Early Childhood Education, at Vanier College, where she currently teaches. Still having the desire to work in the arts, Burns' father introduced her to the Lyric Theatre after he played Daddy Warbucks in ANNIE. Her father encouraged her to audition for one of Lyric's yearly cabarets, which she did and was accepted. Burns says, "Lyric was really where I got my training." It was then that Burns met her husband, who was the Musical Director. The following year, while performing in A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, Burns and her future husband began to date. Burns then began a Drama and Education program at Concordia University's Theatre Department. The focus was on teaching, which Burns is passionate about. While still a student, Burns began working professionally. She was cast in a dinner theatre production of NUNSENSE, in the late 1980s, when the dinner theatre scene was buzzing in Montreal and went on to perform in other productions, but always while teaching at the same time. As NUNSENSE was closing, the Lyric Theatre Singers (Choir) was just beginning and Burns joined them. At the beginning the Lyric Theatre Singers was just a choir on risers. As director, Bob Bachelor, began adding more theatrical elements, Burns was ready for a change. With young kids at home, she was struggling to commit to the full year as Lyric does both a Christmas show and a spring production. In order to still be part of Lyric, Burns began doing some directing for the spring production. Burns stepped away again to work on some other projects, but has been back for the last three years, co-directing with Bachelor.

HANNIBAL: If you had to choose between teaching, performing or directing, which would you choose?

BURNS: I guess what I've always been able to do is NOT make a choice. Of course, I have to make a living, so I guess my choice for my profession, I did make when I was younger. Am I going to be a teacher or am I going to try and make it as a musical theatre actress/singer? The music was very much a passion. I knew I wanted a family. I knew I wanted stability. I was with a musician, who became a teacher as well. But I knew he would have a sort of less defined schedule. The struggle scared me. Once we knew were going to be together and have a family, I knew one of us needed to have a more predictable schedule. I guess I always found a way to do all of it! The joy of teaching is that I can make time to do music and theatre. Now I realize, as I'm getting older, how much I am enjoying directing.

HANNIBAL: What is your favourite role, that you have portrayed?

BURNS: Charity in SWEET CHARITY and Jenny in COMPANY.

HANNIBAL: Do you have any dream roles?

BURNS: ANY of the roles in COMPANY, anything Sondheim, Phyllis in FOLLIES, because I'm the right age for it! I'd also love to play The Witch in INTO THE WOODS.

This year, in their 27th year, Lyric Theatre Singers is presenting HELLO BROADWAY, an original musical theatre revue, created and directed by Bachelor and Burns. HELLO BROADWAY features forty performers and five musicians serving up a lively, eclectic assortment of Broadway's most memorable moments, past and present.

The Lyric Theatre, founded over 50 years ago, is a producer and promoter of musical theatre in the Montreal area. What began in 1965 with a vision of a community based group presenting an annual stage production on the West Island has, thanks to the creation of The Lyric Theatre Singers in 1990, grown into a company of performers from all areas of the city. The Singers rehearse and perform 10 months out of every year, presenting their very popular Broadway revues and Christmas concerts annually.

Thursday June 15 at 8:00 PM
Friday June 16 at 8:00 PM
Saturday June 17 at 2:00 AND 8:00 PM

DB Clarke Theatre
1455, boul. de Maisonneuve
(corner of Bishop St.)
Guy-Concordia Metro
Indoor parking: 1400, boul. de Maisonneuve
Reserved Seating - Wheelchair Accessible

$36 Regular
$32 Students / Seniors
$17 Children 12 and under
$30 "Student Saturday"
$30 Groups of 15+
[Please call the box office regarding student & group discounts]


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