Grand Theatre Announces Principal Casting for the Season

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Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum has announced principal casting for the 2019/20 season including Deborah Hay and Mark Uhre in Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's MARY POPPINS, Gavin Crawford, who takes on all 40 roles in the hilarious FULLY COMMITTED, Rebecca Northan in EVERY BRILLIANT THING and THIS LONDON LIFE, and Alexis Gordon starring as Ma in the North American premiere in ROOM, based on the award-winning novel by Emma Donoghue.

"This year, we are celebrating London in many ways," says Dennis Garnhum. "Our city's stories and people are a vital part of this season at the Grand, from Morris Panych's hilarious take on the absurdities of being the 'other' London, to artists like Deborah Hay and Emma Donoghue, whose performances and work will shine on our stages, and to our new 100 Schools tour production, inspired by our city's own students." The 11 productions across two stages include two world premieres, a North American premiere, and new works by exciting Canadian visionaries, allowing the Grand to continue bringing the world to London, and London to the world.

The 2019/20 season launches in October with the world premiere comedy, THIS LONDON LIFE, commissioned by the Grand through COMPASS, our New Play Development program. Written and directed by award-winning Canadian actor and playwright, Morris Panych, THIS LONDON LIFE "tells the story of two Londons, parodying their many similarities-and their differences," describes Dennis Garnhum. After a successful run of BLIND DATE at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Rebecca Northan returns as the morally questionable Mrs. Simpson. Making his Grand Theatre debut is Ryan Shaw, a young elementary student from Petrolia, Ontario. Allister MacDonald plays Jimmy, a man who arrives in 'this' London, but is under the impression he is in 'that' London.

In the tradition of grand holiday productions, audiences will delight in the classic musical, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's MARY POPPINS, soaring onto the Spriet Stage, November 26 to December 29. The magical production will feature the talents of Deborah Hay as Mary Poppins, and Mark Uhre as Bert, as they both return home to London in this wonder-filled story that combines what Dennis Garnhum describes as "uplifting melodies and big-hearted characters." Also joining the cast of Mary Poppins is Jan Alexandra Smith, as The Birdwoman and Miss Andrew.

Gavin Crawford, well-known for his weekly CBC Radio show Because News, as well as his eight successful years on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, will start the new year off with a "fast-paced, tour-de-force performance" in the one person show, FULLY COMMITTED, directed by Steven Gallagher.

Alexis Gordon, who plays Winifred Banks in Disney and Cameron Mackintosh's MARY POPPINS, will return to the Grand in March, taking on the role of Ma, in Emma Donoghue's stage adaptation of her award-winning novel ROOM. Presented in partnership with Covent Garden Productions and David Mirvish, the play makes its Canadian debut on the Spriet Stage in London, the home of Ms. Donoghue, before moving to the CAA Theatre in Toronto.

The Grand Theatre is also excited to celebrate Indigenous Canadian storytelling with the stunning play HONOUR BEAT, written by Tara Beagan and directed by Falen Johnson, co-host of the CBC podcast The Secret Life of Canada.

Closing the season on the Spriet Stage, the Grand Theatre will present the funny and heartwarming new Canadian musical, GROW. Before they must commit to the Amish faith forever, 19-year-old twins Hannah and Ruth leave the comfort of their sheltered community to explore the outside world for the first time. After finding themselves stranded in one of Toronto's roughest neighbourhoods, all their plans go up in smoke and they end up working at an illegal marijuana grow-op. GROW is an outrageously fun, big-hearted musical, that explores sisterhood, community, and the legalization of a once-forbidden weed. Another successful production developed through the Canadian Music Theatre Project at Sheridan College, GROW is written by Matt Murray, and features songs by Colleen Dauncey and Akiva Romer-Segal (THE LOUDER WE GET formerly PROM QUEEN).

The Grand's McManus Stage features four plays this season, starting with Human Cargo Theatre's THE RUNNER, a Dora Award-winning production starring Gord Rand as Jacob, the Z.A.K.A. volunteer.

Actor, director, playwright, and improviser, Rebecca Northan, makes a second appearance at the Grand Theatre in the one-person show EVERY BRILLIANT THING. Playing on the McManus Stage January 21 to February 2, 2020, the show explores the question "what makes life worth living?" Described by The Guardian as "one of the funniest plays you will ever see about depression," the production will prompt audiences to reflect upon the every-day, small joys that keep us living.

The McManus line-up finishes with a powerful piece, BETWEEN BREATHS, from Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland. Based on the life of Dr. Jon Lein-known as "the Whale Man"- the play moves backwards in time from his final moments, through his incredible work rescuing whales, while he struggles with relentless paralysis and dementia.

JUNO'S REWARD, a new play written by Artistic Associate Megan Watson, will come to the McManus for March Break. Starring Natalia Gracious, Stephen Ingram, and Faly Mevamanana, the production will also feature new music from Natalia's brother Richard Gracious, a local singer-songwriter. JUNO'S REWARD will also be featured in this year's 100 School's Program which tours elementary school gymnasiums and auditoriums across London and surrounding area from February 20 to May 15, 2020, all at no cost to the schools.

For additional casting and creative team preview listings, see the following pages.

Tickets for the 2019/20 Season are now on sale at grandtheatre.com, by phone, and at the box office.

The Grand Theatre 2019/20 Season is proudly sponsored by BMO Financial Group.




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