Britta Johnson's LIFE AFTER Musical to Hit the Stage in Toronto This Fall

Britta Johnson's LIFE AFTER Musical to Hit the Stage in Toronto This Fall

Following an auspicious debut at the Toronto Fringe Festival in 2016, Canadian Stage, The Musical Stage Company, and Yonge Street Theatricals will present rising Toronto lyricist and composer Britta's Johnson's extraordinary new musical Life After, on stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre September 23 - October 22. This expanded fall production represents an exciting step for a developing Canadian musical.

A funny and frank story of love, loss and vivid imagination, Life After follows sixteen-year old Alice, left to navigate life after her father, a superstar self-help guru, dies in a car accident. The audience is plunged into Alice's overactive inner world as she tries to decipher the events that led to that fateful day.

The Musical Stage Company Artistic & Managing Director Mitchell Marcus notes, "In our company's quest to advance musical theatre in Canada, Britta is a profoundly important voice with an innate ability to use music to reveal the heart and soul of her characters. We could not be more proud to have Britta associated with our organization through The Crescendo Series, and to bring Life After to the stage as the first of three new musicals written or co-written by Britta that we will produce in the next three years. She is truly gifted, and Life After exemplifies why she might be the future of musical theatre in Canada."

The presentation is the first Canadian musical to be programmed at Canadian Stage under Artistic and General Director Matthew Jocelyn's tenure. Jocelyn, whose family origins trace back to Johnson's hometown Stratford, Ontario, caught early studeNT Productions of Johnson and was immediately struck by the mature, insightful voice in her work, both as a librettist and as a composer.

"Life After is a searingly beautiful piece of music theatre that we are honoured to have opening our 30th anniversary season," says Jocelyn. "The sheer poetry and depth of feeling in Britta's work is remarkable - it advances the emotional terrain and possibility of the musical genre. We are also thrilled to be entering into our first partnerships with The Musical Stage Company and Yonge Street Theatricals, who are working at the forefront of an exciting new era for original musicals, in this season in which we are honouring collaboration as the bedrock of our company's history."

As previously announced, Life After marks the beginning of The Musical Stage Company's CRESCENDO SERIES - an unprecedented breakthrough for a composer of musical theatre in Canada through a three-year residency and commitment to produce three of their new musicals. Britta Johnson is the inaugural Crescendo artist and she will receive an annual residency fee as well as a commitment from The Musical Stage Company to produce one of her works in development each year for the next three years.

Linda Barnett and Natalie Bartello of Yonge Street Theatricals gratefully acknowledge their not-for-profit partners: "We are thrilled to be enhancing this very important developmental production, produced in collaboration with Canadian Stage and The Musical Stage Company. The result of this unique partnership is that Torontonians will have the chance to see this show first and play an exciting part in its evolution. We are truly honoured to be shepherding this musical by a very special artist and look forward to what the future holds for Life After."

The exciting new principal cast will be led by emerging star Ellen Denny who was recently seen on stage as the iconic Anne Shirley in the National Arts Centre presentation of Anne & Gilbert and understudy for the role of Young Victoria for Mirvish's presentation of The Audience.

Denny is joined by 2017 Toronto Theatre Critics Award-winner Dan Chameroy (Matilda), Rielle Braid (Ride The Cyclone), Tracy Michailidis (currently in the US Fun Home touring production), Kelsey Verzotti (CBC's "Over the Rainbow"), and Trish Lindström (The Wedding Party), with Johnson's sister Anika Johnson joining the production's ensemble along with Neema Bickersteth (Century Song) and Barbara Fulton (The Sound of Music).

Backstage, Robert McQueen, who directed the Fringe production, returns to the helm; longtime Musical Stage Company collaborator Reza Jacobs provides music direction; Linda Garneau choreographs, while orchestrations, arrangements and music supervision are by Lynne Shankel; set design is by Brandon Kleiman; lighting design is by Kimberley Purtell; costumes are designed by Ming Wong, and sound design is by Peter McBoyle.

Watch a trailer for the show below!


Life After will be on stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre, from September 23rd - October 22nd (Media night: September 28). Performances run Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8:00pm, Fridays at 7:00pm, and matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 1:00pm (the October 14 matinee is a relaxed performance). Tickets from $39 to $69 are available online, by phone at 416.368.3110, or in person at the Berkeley Street box office. For details. visit www.canadianstage.com.

Hailed by The Toronto Star as "a major talent," Britta Johnson is one of the most extraordinary new voices in Canadian musical theatre. Her collaboration on the immersive musical Brantwood helped make it the must-see theatre event of 2015, winning the Audience Choice Dora Award. In 2016, she was nominated for two Dora Awards for Best New Musical - one for her original Jacob Two-Two score at Young People's Theatre (with Anika Johnson), and one for The Musical Stage Company's Reframed, inspired by and performed in front of a painting at the Art Gallery of Ontario (with Sara Farb). Her musical Life After won the inaugural Paul O'Sullivan Prize for musical theatre; was the runner up for the 2015 Stage West Pechet Family Musical Award and was a Patron's Pick in the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival. Most recently Britta wrote music and lyrics for the 2017 Dora Award nominated Stupidhead! and was librettist for choreographer Robert Binet's adaptation of "The Kreutzer Sonata" with Ballet Moscow. Trap Door, a collaboration with Anika Johnson and Morris Panych, will be produced by Theatre Sheridan in the fall.

Founded in 1987, Canadian Stage is one of the country's leading not-for-profit contemporary performing arts companies, sharing new, innovative stage work from Canada and around the world. Led by Artistic & General Director Matthew Jocelyn, Canadian Stage produces and presents a new hybrid of multidisciplinary performance that pushes the boundaries of form and style, integrating theatre, dance, music, multimedia and more. Canadian Stage is dedicated to reinforcing the presence of Canadian art and artists within an international cultural dialogue, by acting as a home, incubator and exporter of leading Canadian and global performance. The company stages an annual season at three historic locations: the Bluma Appel Theatre; the Berkeley Street Theatre; and the High Park Amphitheatre, home to Shakespeare in High Park. Offering a range of education, artist training and community outreach programs, Canadian Stage is committed to cultivating tomorrow's artistic innovators and audiences. For more information, visit canadianstage.com.

The Musical Stage Company is Canada's largest not-for-profit, professional theatre company dedicated to musical theatre. We create transformative experiences through musical storytelling locally, nationally and internationally. Established in 2004 as Acting Up Stage Company, we unveiled our new name in 2017 alongside the ambitious goals of making Canada a leader in musical theatre, reaching every Torontonian through diverse musical stories, and creating a national and international presence.

Our productions - including award-winning contemporary musicals, world premieres and concerts - are seen live by 30,000 people over the 80+ nights that we are onstage annually in venues both traditional and surprising. We incubate new Canadian musicals from development to production, investing in Canadian musical theatre writers and building national and international partnerships. To date, our work has been recognized with 61 Dora Award nominations, 11 Dora Awards and 12 Toronto Theatre Critics' Awards.

Beyond the stage, we build and enrich communities through musical storytelling. Our robust education programs develop the artists and audiences of tomorrow, offering musical theatre training that boosts self-confidence and self-expression for over 100 young people each year without cost to the participants. We also curate innovative musical programs in partnership with diverse organizations, maximizing the resonance of our work across disciplines and communities. For more information visit: www.musicalstagecompany.com.

Yonge Street Theatricals is led by Linda Barnett and Natalie Bartello. The duo have been working together in new musical development at the grassroots level for the last ten years. They develop original musicals and support and nurture exceptional works from the earliest stages. At the heart of their mission they strive to collaborate with the most exciting and engaging theatre professionals with an eye for shows that appeal to all ages. For more information, visit www.yongestreettheatricals.com.

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