Canadian Stage and The Musical Stage Company Join Forces to Premiere Two New Festivals

Learn more about both festivals and their lineups here!

By: Feb. 07, 2024

Canadian Stage and The Musical Stage Company will join forces and premiere two new works festivals this spring - THE FESTIVAL OF NEW THEATRE and CANADIAN FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS. For seven weeks, this thrilling partnership will come together to transform the Berkeley Theatre into a vibrant hub of creativity, proudly showcasing 10 brand-new works in development by some of Canada’s most visionary artists. 

In April, Canadian Stage launches THE FESTIVAL OF NEW THEATRE (FoNT) running from April 4 – April 20. With a month of groundbreaking performances by internationally renowned Canadian artists, FoNT showcases six new works. The festival will present two fully realized new productions: NOMADA by multi-disciplinary aerial artist Diana Lopez and SEARCHING FOR EASTMAN by the genre pushing wind in the leaves collective and four readings of plays in development at Canadian Stage — COPPERBELT by Natasha Mumba (co-developed with the National Arts Centre), YOU, ALWAYS by Erin Shields, THE EIGHTH DAY by Nicole Brooks and NEXT TIME I DIE by Susanna Fournier. These works have all been developed with the support of Canadian Stage as part of its renewed commitment to be a leading organization in the development of new Canadian theatre. This initiative is supported in part by a multi-year commitment from the Fabio Mascarin Foundation. 

In May, The Musical Stage Company moves into the Berkeley Theatre for its inaugural CANADIAN FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS running May 22 – 26.  A celebration of creativity, innovation, and collaboration, the CANADIAN FESTIVAL OF NEW MUSICALS kicks off with THE NOTEWORTHY NEW MUSICALS CONFERENCE, a one-day musical theatre creation event dedicated to the development and education of composers, lyricists, playwrights, and new musical enthusiasts, and is followed by an electrifying showcase of excerpts from 3 musicals in development that offer an exhilarating take on contemporary life, delivering a deeply heartfelt experience. The three musicals being showcased include: IN REAL LIFE (Book & Lyrics by Nick Green, Music & Lyrics by Kevin Wong; Co-Developed with fu-GEN Theatre Company), a story filled with twists and turns that examines the complexities of power, technology, and freedom in the digital era; AFTER THE RAIN (Book by Rose Napoli, Music & Lyrics by Suzy Wilde; Co-Developed with Tarragon Theatre), a transcendent theatrical experience, based on a true story, that unflinchingly embraces life’s complexities and healing power of music; and COWBOY TEMPEST CABARET (Book by Niall McNeil, Lucy McNulty & Anton Lipovetsky, Music by Anton Lipovetsky, Lyrics by Niall McNeil), a totally lawless adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest musicalized in the styles of rock, folk and country & western music.

“The future of Canadian theatre is vibrant”, says Jordan Laffrenier, Associate Artistic Director at Canadian Stage and head of new work development at the organization. “In launching The Festival of New Theatre we are creating a home for artists and audiences to come together and celebrate the richness of Canadian theatre. We are inspired by the bravery and vision of the artists featured in this festival, who enrich and edify our experiences through storytelling. These performances represent an exciting addition to the Canadian theatre canon.”  

“The inaugural Canadian Festival of New Musicals showcases The Musical Stage Company’s commitment to celebrating innovation and fostering the evolution of musical theatre in Canada. This festival not only presents 3 of our works in development by some of the most promising musical theatre creators in the country, but truly showcases how the union of story and music has the power to spark our hearts, illuminate our minds, and set our bellies ablaze,” Says Ray Hogg, Artistic Director of The Musical Stage Company. “I am so thrilled to be partnering with Canadian Stage and to give audiences a glimpse of all the new and exciting stories coming to stages near them in the future.”



Thursday April 4- Saturday April 6 (8PM), Sunday April 7 (2PM) 

Created by Wind in the Leaves Collective based on the poetry of charles c smith 

Julius Eastman (1940-1990) was a Black and queer minimalist composer. Outspoken about his social identities, Eastman was a provocative character who infused his remarkable compositions with these sensibilities. Through music, poetry, theatre, dance, and video, searching for eastman reveals the complexities of this extraordinary artist and his art.
Searching for Eastman is supported by the K.M. Hunter Charitable Foundation.


Thursday April 18 - Saturday April 20 ( 8PM) 

Created and performed by: Diana Lopez Soto 
Co- presented by Canadian Stage and Dance Works 

NOMADA blends aerial dance, installation art, and contemporary Mexican Indigenous dance. Inspired by personal stories of displacement, dances and stories from the P’urepecha and Otomi nations of Michoacan, and the relationship between our bodies and the earth, NOMADA is a visually stunning and visceral experience.


Sunday April 7 (6 PM) 
Written by Natasha Mumba 
Direction by Nina Lee Aquino
Co-developed by Canadian Stage and NAC 
Copperbelt focuses on Eden, a modern and intelligent Zambian woman, based in Toronto. She is a junior financial controller at one of the world’s most lucrative mineral firms. Her success in the western world is partially credited to her father, Zambian millionaire and entrepreneur, Benjamin Kasuba. Eden, who has carefully curated her education and connections all with the intent of her coming back home to secure her position in the family’s multi-investments firm. However, when she is suddenly summoned home by her Father, to help preserve an integral asset that could risk the stability of his business and join the staff permanently, she is faced with the difficult choice of having to leave the life and career she’s building in the west for a cause she may no longer believe in.


Sunday April 14  (6PM) 
Written by Susanna Fournier
Next Time I Die is a one-act set against the cosmic scale of existence (and non-existence). Through an anachronistic mosaic of story-telling, poetry, and tender absurdism, it follows two individuals grappling with their relationships to “aliveness” and each other over lifetimes. One is a former revolutionary currently avoiding rebirth, the other, a romantic addicted to living. Reunited by cosmic admin work, they take us on a heart-opening journey through the nature of grief, love, and existence, revealing the transcendence possible in learning how to let go.


Sunday April 14 (2PM) 
Written by Nicole Brooks
Co-developed by Canadian Stage and Soulpepper 
On one fateful night, in the burrows of a town called Little Burgundy, Montreal, one mysterious woman gathers eight women from all walks of life to take the stage to create some magic. Little did anyone know that what they conjured that night was orchestrated to change the world as they know it forever. The Eighth Day shines a spotlight on the lives of Femmes Noires (Black women) in 1928 and their lived experiences as they present their story in a very unique manner through a Burlesque show barring not only their clothes but also their souls in order to be heard and change their existence forever.


Tuesday April 16 (6PM)  
Written and directed by Erin Shields

You, Always is an ode to sisters – to the brutal honesty, raucous silliness and unflinching support of an indispensable sibling. As one memory triggers another in their fifty-year shared history, sisters Liz and Delia travel across time and space tracing the push and pull of their relationship with humour, nuance and honesty

*Canadian Stage's New Work Development Department is generously supported by the Fabio Mascarin Foundation


Wednesday May 22 (2:30PM)

The Musical Stage Company is pleased to present the 2nd iteration of The Noteworthy New Musicals Conference, a one-day musical theatre creation event dedicated to the development and education of composers, lyricists, playwrights, and new musical enthusiasts in Toronto. The Noteworthy New Musicals Conference provides music theatre creators with the opportunity to test drive creative relationships, share work with like-minded peers, learn more from experts in the field, and engage in the conversation around the development of new musical theatre in Canada.

Details on events & speakers to be released in the coming weeks!


Friday May 24, 2024 (8PM); Saturday May 25 (8PM); Sunday May 26 (2PM)

Book & Lyrics by Nick Green, Music & Lyrics by Kevin Wong
Direction and Dramaturgy by Ann Hodges
Commissioned by The Musical Stage Company and Co-Developed by The Musical Stage Company and fu-GEN Theatre Company

This presentation of In Real Life will contain some production elements and staging.
Technilogical prodigy Max is an ideal student with a bright future, until, with a single swipe, he sets out on a journey to forbidden corners of the Internet, underground societies, and forgotten parts of himself. A story filled with twists and turns, IN REAL LIFE examines the complexities of power, technology, and freedom in the digital era.


Thursday May 23 (8PM); Saturday May 25 (2PM)

A Double Bill featuring staged readings of After the Rain & Cowboy Tempest Cabaret


Book by Rose Napoli, Music & Lyrics by Suzy Wilde
Direction by Marie Farsi
Commissioned by The Musical Stage Company and Co-Developed by The Musical Stage Company and Tarragon Theatre

Suzie Evans Stone is a struggling composer who sings backup in her parent’s band but pays her bills by secretly teaching piano lessons. Her life takes an unforeseen turn when she accepts a new terminally ill adult student only interested in mastering Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie No.1”. AFTER THE RAIN is a transcendent theatrical experience, based on a true story, that unflinchingly embraces life’s complexities and healing power of music.


Book by Niall McNeil, Lucy McNulty & Anton Lipovetsky, Music by Anton Lipovetsky, Lyrics by Niall McNeil
Direction by Ali Joy Richardson
Commissioned and Developed by The Musical Stage Company

Guns and magic. Love and hurt. When gunslinger Prospero conjures a storm in the desert, he begins a chain of events that forces every cowboy and spirit into a fight for freedom. Created by an artist with Down Syndrome and his longtime collaborators, COWBOY TEMPEST CABARET is a totally lawless adaptation of Shakespeare’s Tempest musicalized in the styles of rock, folk and country & western music.