A season of pure escape. pure humanity. pure imagination
LONDON, ON, March 28, 2023 – Artistic Director, Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director, Evan Klassen are proud to announce 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 grandtheatre.com, 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 19, 2023.
To learn more about the Grand’s 2023-24 Season of Pure Imagination, please visit: grandtheatre.com. Additional facts, photos and updates can also be found by following @thegrandlondon and #GRANDImagination on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For more information please contact:
Caitlin Core, Communications Manager
519-672-9030 ext. 266
ON THE SPRIET STAGE
HIGH SCHOOL PROJECT – THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Charles Hart
Additional Lyrics by Richard Stilgoe
Book by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Based on the novel “Le Fantôme de I’Opéra” by Gaston Leroux
Originally directed by Harold Prince
Orchestrations by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Original Production by Cameron Mackintosh Ltd. and The Really Useful Group Ltd.
Directed by Andrew Tribe
September 19 to October 7, 2023 | SPRIET STAGE
Opening September 22, 2023
Lurking in the catacombs, far beneath the majestic Paris Opera House is a notorious masked figure, known as the Phantom. A disfigured musical genius, the Phantom exercises a reign of terror and control over all who enter “his” opera house – including an innocent, young soprano. Mesmerized by her beauty and talent, the Phantom desires nothing more than to see her become a star of the operatic stage and to remain with him at the Opera for all time. And the consequences for anyone who stands in his way? Deadly.
Title Sponsor: Western Fair District | Program Sponsors: Thames Valley District School Board & London District Catholic School Board
Written by Ins Choi
Directed by Esther Jun
October 17 to November 4, 2023 | SPRIET STAGE
Opening October 20, 2023
Mr. Kim is a first-generation Korean immigrant, a father of two and the proud proprietor of Kim’s Convenience for the past 30 years. After building his empire from nothing, the stubborn Mr. Kim grapples with his changing Toronto neighbourhood and the growing chasm between him and his second-generation children. In this heart-warming and hilarious story, audiences will follow the Kim family as they tackle their challenging past and look to face an unknown future.
A relatable story for all families, Ins Choi’s award-winning play – that inspired the beloved hit TV show of the same name – is a modern Canadian classic.
ROALD DAHL'S CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Book by David Greig
Music by Marc Shaiman
Lyrics by Scott Wittman | Marc Shaiman
Based on the novel by Roald Dahl
Songs from the Motion Picture by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley
Directed by Jan Alexandra Smith
November 21 to December 24, 2023 | SPRIET STAGE
Opening November 24, 2023
Willy Wonka, the world-famous candy maker, is opening the gates to his mysterious chocolate factory – but only to a lucky few. Among them is the young Charlie Bucket, who joins four other Golden Ticket winners to embark upon a brain boggling, mind mangling, schnozztastic adventure through Wonka’s wild and wonderous world. Chocolate waterfalls, nutty squirrels, incredible inventions, Oompa-Loompas and the prize of a lifetime await.
Step into a world of pure imagination with Roald Dahl’s scrumptious musical adventure, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. With beloved songs from the original film, alongside a toe-tapping score from the songwriters of Hairspray, this everlasting show-stopper is the perfect tongue-tastical treat – just in time for the holiday season!
Catalyst Theatre Production of
THE INVISIBLE, ANGENTS OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE
Written, Composed and Directed by Johnathan Christenson
January 16 to February 3, 2024 | SPRIET STAGE
Opening January 19, 2024
France, 1940. After months of training and successful assignments, seven exceptional female SOEs (Special Operative Executives) are dropped into their most dangerous mission to date. Risking their lives for the fate of the nation, The Invisible embark on perilous missions of sabotage, propaganda, and espionage – helping to bring down the greatest threat of their time, only to go completely unseen.
From the writer behind the smash-hit Vigilante comes a new musical tour-de-force, inspired by the stories of real-life female SOEs. This genre-busting mash-up of historical research, film-noir, graphic novels and musical theatre is a contemporary portrait of brave women who risked it all to fight during WWII–only to find themselves betrayed by the very world they believed they were fighting for.
A Harold Green Jewish Theatre Co-Production
IN SEVEN DAYS
By Jordi Mand
Directed by Philip Akin
February 13 to March 2,2024 | SPRIET STAGE
Opening February 16, 2024
When Rachel returns to her family home in London, Ontario, her only concern is whether she bought the right bagels for her stepmother to bring to Temple. But when her father reveals his decision to end his life by medically assisted death in seven days, poppy-seed bagels become the least of her concerns. Torn between love, her Jewish faith and conscience, Rachel must decide: does she try to change the mind of the family patriarch or does she honour the wishes of her ailing father?
A world premiere co-production with the Harold Green Jewish Theatre, In Seven Days is a powerful reminder of the preciousness of life and the challenges of saying goodbye to the people we love most.
A Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre Co-Production
Based on the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn
Written by Sandy Rustin
Additional material by Hunter Foster and Eric Price
Based on the Paramount Pictures Motion Picture
Based on the Hasbro board game CLUE
Original music by Michael Holland
Directed by Dennis Garnhum
March 12 to 30, 2024 | SPRIET STAGE
Opening March 15, 2024
On a dark and stormy night, six mysterious guests are invited to a remote mansion for a very unusual dinner party. Wadsworth, the butler, provides each guest with an alias – Scarlett, Plum, White, Green, Peacock and Mustard – along with a very unique party favour: a weapon. With the aroma of deception in the air, dinner is served. The main course on the menu? Murder. So, whodunnit? With what? And where?
Based on the cult classic film and timeless board game, the Grand Theatre and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Company are proud to present Clue – a “killer” slapstick comedy full of murderous mayhem that will leave audiences guessing – and howling – until the very end.
MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET
Book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux
Original Concept and Direction by Floyd Mutrux
Inspired by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins
April 16 to May 11, 2024 | SPRIET STAGE
Opening April 19, 2024
On December 4, 1956, an extraordinary twist of fate brought Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins together – for the first and only time. That night, they recorded rock ‘n’ roll history.
In this Tony Award-nominated jukebox musical, audiences will experience a blast from the past as they are transported to that infamous December night for one of the greatest jam sessions of all time. Relive this historic moment with some of the greatest hits that defined an era, including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “That's Alright,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Great Balls of Fire" and much more!
ON THE AUBURN STAGE
Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes
November 27 to December 9, 2023 | AUBURN STAGE
Opening November 28, 2023
In this raucous, adults-only holiday treat, internationally acclaimed and multi-award-winning puppeteer Ronnie Burkett reimagines the timeless classic A Christmas Carol for a madly-merry, marionette mash-up.
Using uniquely handcrafted characters, seasonal singalongs, cabaret performances, wild improvisations and (mandatory!) audience participation, Burkett tells the story of Esmé Scrooge, a fading actress and her bumpy path to redemption.
Have yourself a naughty little Christmas at the Grand Theatre, as Canada’s master puppeteer pulls just the right strings to show audiences the true meaning of the season… or at least one hilarious version of it!
Written and Performed by Cliff Cardinal
February 6 to 17, 2024 | AUBURN STAGE
Opening February 7, 2024
From Cliff Cardinal, multi-award-winning Cree writer, poet and actor, comes a hauntingly hilarious solo production that tells the tale 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. Wind’s fantastic dream world bleeds into his haunting reality, as he’s preyed on by the Trickster through the hallways at school, the abandoned motel he loves more than home and his own fragile psyche.
A theatrical breath of fresh air, the critically acclaimed Huff has shocked audiences across North America with its biting humour, unflinching honesty and ability to find laughter in the darkest places.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
By Andrew Prashad
Directed by Laura Caswell
Written, Conceived, Composed and Performed by Andrew Prashad
April 9 to 20, 2024 | AUBURN STAGE
Opening April 10, 2024
After enthralling audiences in Grand Ghosts, renowned Canadian tap dancer, Andrew Prashad, returns to the Grand Theatre with his intimate solo show: One Step at a Time. 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.
Since its debut in 2018, this intimate piece has heartened audiences across the country with its powerful message of finding love, joy and balance every step along the way.
JEANS 'N' CLASSICS
Following sold-out performances across the globe, Peter Brennan’s legendary Jeans ’n Classics returns to the Grand’s Spriet Stage with a brand-new five-concert series – performing the best of rock and pop.
ABBEY ROAD – Thursday, August 17, 2023
EARTH, WIND, FIRE, BLOOD, SWEAT, TEARS… AND A LITTLE CHICAGO! – Tuesday, November 7, 2023
MOTOWN/DISCO – Tuesday, March 5, 2024
JOURNEY/QUEEN – Thursday, April 4, 2024
NEVER BREAK THE CHAIN – THE MUSIC OF FLEETWOOD MAC– Thursday, May 30, 2024
THE LONDON GOSPEL COLLECTIVE
Experience the greatest gospel music of all time, from the group that’s redefining the genre. For the first time ever, the London Gospel Collective is taking over the Auburn Stage for a 3-concert series– spreading hope, unity, and faith with every note.
Sunday, December 17 & Monday, December 18, 2023
Sunday, February 25, 2024
Sunday, April 21, 2024