Grand Theatre Announces CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY And More For 2023/24 Season

A season of pure escape. Pure humanity. Pure imagination.

CASEY AND DIANA to Begin Performances Next Week at the Stratford Festival

Artistic Director, Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director, Evan Klassen have announced today the Grand Theatre's 2023/24 playbill - a "Season of Pure Imagination," on stage from September 2023 through May 2024.

The delectable season lineup includes: ten blockbuster titles across two stages, one London Proud world premiere, an exhilarating five-concert series from Jeans 'n Classics, and the début of an uplifting, new three-concert series on the Auburn Stage: the London Gospel Collective.

"The Grand's 2023/24 Season invites audiences to join us on a delectable journey of leaving the ordinary behind, momentarily unburdening yourself of life's challenges, and entering a world of pure imagination," announces Grand Theatre Artistic Director, Dennis Garnhum. "With compelling titles, world-renowned artists, and inspiring messaging, this year's season provides a beautiful world of escape, while also serving as an important reminder of the joy in shared experiences and our collective humanity."

Following 24 years of ground-breaking seasons, the Grand's renowned youth mentorship program, the High School Project (HSP), opens the Grand playbill with its 25th silver anniversary production: Andrew Lloyd's Webber's The Phantom of the Opera. London arts leader and two-time HSP director, Andrew Tribe takes on the directorial helm in September 2023 to lead the seminal production. Joining him are London-born Floydd Ricketts as Musical Director and Matthew Atkins as Associate Musical Director.

After leaving Grand audiences in stitches in 2013, the award-winning Canadian play Kim's Convenience returns to kick off the 2023/24 Spriet Series. The production, which went on to inspire the widely-popular CBC television series of the same name, is created by Korean-Canadian actor and playwright Ins Choi, who - for the first time - will also star as the patriarch of the Kim family, Appa, in the Grand's production. Sought-after Director Esther Jun, who originated the role of Janet in the world premiere of Kim's Convenience in 2012, lends her influential voice to direct the deeply-personal play that centres on family, race, and finding common ground.

"Kim's Convenience is a love letter to immigrant parents," remarks Jun. "It's about their hopes, their dreams, and what they have sacrificed for their children to have a better life. This show is for them. But, even if you aren't from an immigrant background, this play is still so universal as, at its nucleus, it's about family - the struggles, the fights, and the forgiveness. Who can't relate to that?"

To celebrate the holiday season, the Grand invites audiences to step into a world of pure imagination with Roald Dahl's scrumptious musical adventure Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Transcending generational appeal, this new interpretation of the beloved classic will delight audiences of all ages - presenting beloved songs from the original film, alongside a toe-tapping score from the songwriters of Hairspray. Jan Alexandra Smith, celebrated Canadian actor/director and Grand Theatre audience favourite, continues her work at the Theatre to direct the mouth-watering holiday production. Joining her on the production team are Set Designer Scott Penner, who designed the awe-inspiring set for the 2022 record-breaking production of Elf - the Musical, and Grand Ghost's Joseph Abetria as Costume Designer. Taking on the role of the world's most famous Candyman, Willy Wonka, is notable Canadian and Broadway actor, London's-own Mark Uhre. For the seventh consecutive year, in conjunction with the holiday production, the Grand will be asking its audiences to help raise funds to support the Business Cares program of the London Food Bank.

The New Year commences on a dangerous foot, as themes of sabotage, propaganda, and espionage fill the air. From Jonathan Christenson, the writer and director behind the smash-hit Vigilante, comes a new musical tour-de-force to the Grand's Spriet Stage: The Invisible, Agents of Ungentlemanly Warfare. A Catalyst Theatre production, this genre-busting mash-up of historical research, film-noir, graphic novels, and musical theatre is a contemporary portrait of seven brave women who risked it all to fight one of the greatest threats of their time during WWII-only to find themselves betrayed by the very world they believed they were fighting for.

"I was inspired to create The Invisible after finishing work on Vigilante," remarks Christenson. "I came off that show, which featured seven male characters and only one female, feeling like I really wanted to do a piece that had a strong, female energy driving it."

By laughter or sorrow, Grand audiences will be reaching for the facial tissues at the February 2024 world premiere of In Seven Days by prominent Toronto-based writer, Jordi Mand. A co-production with the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company in Toronto, the story follows Rachel as she returns to her family home in London, Ontario, only to learn of her ailing father's impending intention to die by medically assisted death in seven days. The comedic play, directed by award-winning cultural leader and founding member of the Obsidian Theatre, Philip Akin, asks audiences to consider how we say goodbye to those we love most.

Mand, who considers London her second home, is thrilled to see In Seven Days have its world premiere at the Grand, noting that the Theatre's patrons are: "an engaged, passionate audience, who have such an incredible appreciation for new theatre."

In March 2024 the weather forecast calls for dark and stormy, as the Grand, in partnership with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, presents Clue. Based off the classic boardgame, and cult-classic film, Clue is a "killer" slapstick comedy full of murderous mayhem that will leave audiences guessing - and howling - until the very end. Following the end of his tenure as Grand Theatre Artistic Director in June 2023, Dennis Garnhum returns to his home theatre to direct the production. Playing the pivotal role of Wadsworth the Butler is Edmonton-based actor Jesse Gervais, who Grand audiences will remember from his stand-out role as Ambrose Small in the world premiere of Grand Ghosts in 2022.

The season ends on a high note as the Grand presents the Tony Award®-nominated Million Dollar Quartet. In the nostalgic jukebox musical, audiences will experience a blast from the past as they are transported back to December 4, 1956, where an extraordinary twist of fate brought Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins together - for the first and only time - to create a once-in-a-lifetime recording. Award-winning Toronto-based director, choreographer, and educator Julie Tomaino returns to the Grand as director of the production, which will delight both new and established fans of some of the greatest artists who ever lived.

The Grand's Auburn Series returns for the 2023/24 season with three dynamic and distinct productions. After sold out performances at the Grand in 2017 with The Daisy Theatre, award-winning, internationally-acclaimed puppeteer Ronnie Burkett makes his epic return to the Auburn Stage with his widely-praised production of Little Dickens. Using uniquely-handcrafted characters, seasonal singalongs, cabaret performances, wild improvisations, and (mandatory!) audience participation, Burkett presents a reimagining of the timeless classic A Christmas Carol for a madly-merry, marionette mash-up that is restricted to audiences 16 years of age and older.

After making headlines across North America with his signature biting humor and candid commentary on some of society's most taboo issues, Cliff Cardinal makes his Grand Theatre debut with his award-winning dark comedy, Huff. A Cree actor, writer, and poet, Cardinal takes on the dual role of writer and performer for this visceral solo show that follows the journey of Wind and his two brothers, who are caught in a torrent of solvent abuse and struggling to cope with the sudden death of their mother. Known as one of the most important voices in Canada today, Cliff created Huff to shine a blinding light on the barriers and challenges facing First Nations youth, while also commenting on the vulnerability and isolation felt by many young people in today's world.

Time-stepping his way back to the Grand is illustrious Canadian tap-dancer and actor Andrew Prashad - who last appeared at the Grand as the Emcee in the 2022 production of Grand Ghosts. Using monologues, original songs, improvisational tap dance, and multimedia video, Andrew shares his and his wife's personal journey of caring for a son with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, while raising two daughters - all while maintaining his career as a professional actor, singer, and dancer.

After taking the city by song since their founding in 2022, the Grand Theatre is proud to welcome the London Gospel Collective (LGC) to the Auburn Stage for an uplifting 3-Concert Series. With the vision to create a space for diverse people - especially people of colour - to authentically express themselves, the LGC unites their powerful and distinct voices to spread hope, unity, and faith with every note.

Other 2023/24 Season Highlights include:

  • Following a sold-out season, Jeans 'n Classics is back at the Grand for a sixth year with five new and exhilarating concerts. The 2023/24 lineup includes: Abbey Road; Earth, Wind, Fire, Blood, Sweat, Tears... and a Little Chicago!; Motown &Disco; Journey & Queen; and Never Break the Chain - The Music of Fleetwood Mac.
  • Educators' Night Out (formerly Teachers Club) and Student Club return with a six-show package and will include special pre- and post-show events.
  • Following popular demand, the Grand's signature Wednesday post-show talk series, AfterWORDS, returns for the new season. On Wednesday evenings, immediately after the performance, patrons are invited to stay for a guided discussion with guest artists, creative team members, and Grand staff in the Drewlo or Auburn Lounge.
  • For the 2023/24 season, patrons can also enjoy stimulating discussion and hear insights into Grand productions with host James Stewart Reaney and special guests at Tea Talks, offered in the Drewlo Lounge prior to 1 p.m. Wednesday matinees.
  • The Grand will also continue to offer Open Captioned performances throughout the season for their Spriet Stage productions. Additionally, for the first time, Open Captioned performances will also be available as a special subscription to patrons.
  • The Grand Theatre would like to extend its appreciation to all funding partners, with special thanks to Season Sponsor, BMO Financial Group. A complete list of Title Sponsors and additional supporters of the Grand will be released at a later time.

2023/24 Season subscriptions, with savings of up to 25% off the regular single ticket price, are now widely on sale at Click Here, by phone at 519-672-8800, or at the Box Office, 471 Richmond Street. Single tickets go on sale to the general public as of June 19th, 2023.

To learn more about the Grand's 2023-24 Season of Pure Imagination, please visit: Click Here.


Interview: Director Kimberley Rampersad talks KING LEAR at the Stratford Festival

Opening Night of the 2023 season of the Stratford Festival is almost upon us, and for the first time in nine years, the Festival is staging a production of KING LEAR. A few weeks ago, BroadwayWorld had the opportunity to chat with the production’s director, Kimberley Rampersad about her vision for this production, what it means to be doing this show now, the complexity of the piece, the stellar company she is working with, and why Lear is a favourite of many a Shakespeare fan.

Diamond Heart Productions to Present Immersive THE WILL OF A WOMAN at Toronto Fringe

Diamond Heart Productions, led by BIPOC Artistic Director Shan Fernando, will present The Will Of A Woman as part of the 2023 Toronto Fringe Festival at the Spadina Museum (285 Spadina Road). Performances are July 5-16, 2023.

FINNEGANS WAKE Theater-Film Project Launches Bloomsday Festival June 16

One Little Goat, the acclaimed Toronto-based theatre company, is tackling its most ambitious project to date… a sprawling 17-episode reading of one of the most mesmerizingly elusive novels of the 20th century, James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake.” The filmed readings of the book star Irish-Canadian actor Richard Harte, who reads each chapter in front of audiences of varying sizes, in unique locations in multiple cities. 

The Stratford Festival Celebrates Pride This June

2SLGBTQ+ stories take centre stage at the Stratford Festival for Pride Month and throughout the 2023 season. The month begins with the world première of Casey and Diana by Nick Green and directed by Andrew Kushnir, as well as the openings of Rent, directed by Thom Allison, and Richard II, adapted by Brad Fraser, and conceived and directed by Jillian Keiley.


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