I’m thrilled to announce the launch of COMPASS, a New Play Development Program dedicated to creating and premiering new work on our stages. This initiative will start with four commissions that celebrate significant people from our past, and examine ideas of identity important to our community and country today. In addition, a production currently in development will have its World Premiere in our 2017/18 MainStage season as part of COMPASS.

This program reflects my belief that in order to be a relevant theatre company, we must develop and premiere our stories on our stages. COMPASS is designed to ignite our imaginations – and I hope you will discover along with me that there is nothing more thrilling than watching a new play unfold before your eyes.


DENNIS GARNHUM, Artistic Director

Four New Commissions:

World Premiere Spring 2019


A Musical Celebration of a Local Hero

Orchestrations and Original Music by Dave Pierce
Book and Direction by Dennis Garnhum

The man renowned for ushering in the New Year to millions of homes across North America for nearly half a century was born in London, Ontario in 1902. Guy Lombardo’s New Year’s Eve brings to life Lombardo and his orchestra, The Royal Canadians, in this sweeping celebration that traces his legendary rise to “Mr. New Year’s Eve.” The production begins at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City as the band prepares for their New Year’s Eve broadcast and the countdown to midnight.

The development of this production is sponsored by
Tourism London



Musical Drama

Music & Lyrics by Leslie Arden
Book by Cathy Elliott

Starlight Tours is based on factual events reported in Saskatchewan in the early 2000s that trace back as far as the 1970s. A series of inquiries and media investigations would reveal a practice by Saskatoon police of picking up First Nations people, driving them outside the city limits, and abandoning them in the dead of winter at the side of the road. After three Indigenous men are found frozen on the prairie, the question would arise as to whether or not their deaths were a result of this practice, which has become known as “starlight tours.” This musical mystery explores a clash of cultures while celebrating the strength and resilience of two young women, one Cree, one white, who are able to find hope and a way forward.

“I look forward to working on the book and collaborating with Leslie Arden on Starlight Tours, a subject that means the world to me as an artist, a citizen of Canada, and an Indigenous (Mi’kmaq) person. I am gratified that The Grand Theatre is intent on asking the difficult questions and taking on the challenge of such a difficult story, and I look ahead to meeting that challenge head on.” – Cathy Elliott, playwright

This production is to be workshopped and developed in collaboration with Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Project.

The development of this production is sponsored by
Tourism London



Contemporary Comedy

Living in London, Ontario one is surrounded by references to the other, larger, London, England. From the Thames River and Covent Garden Market to Oxford Street, there are so many shared associations. London Bridges, a comedy in two acts – Act One in London, England, Act Two in London, Ontario, each written by a native of that region – tells the story of two worlds colliding during one unforgettable visit.

The Writers: To be announced. The Grand Theatre will issue a public submission of interest/proposals for these two commissions – one from Canada and one from England.

The development of this production is sponsored by
Tourism London


World Premiere Halloween 2020 in Celebration of our 50th Anniversary Season


An Extravagantly Musical, Mysteriously Grand Story

Writer to be announced
Directed by Dennis Garnhum

Ambrose Small, a Canadian theatre tycoon and self-made millionaire, owned seven theatres across Ontario and built London’s Grand Theatre in 1901. On December 2, 1919 at the age of 56, he sold all of his properties and vanished, never to be found. Set against the vibrant and wildly scandalous vaudeville era, Ambrose Small will invite audiences to explore The Grand Theatre as an interactive, site-specific musical adventure. 

The development of this production is sponsored by
Tourism London



SILENCE: Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell

by Trina Davies
Directed by Peter Hinton

Alexander Graham Bell connected people around the world by inventing the telephone. But it was of little use to his wife, Mabel, who was profoundly deaf. A beautiful (and true) love story about how we communicate.

This script was originally commissioned and developed through FUSE: The Enbridge New Play Development Program at Theatre Calgary as part of the 2017 Canada Plays Project.

“I’m overjoyed that Trina Davies’ play will be premiered at The Grand Theatre as part of the 2017-18 season. That the play will receive its debut as part of Dennis’ first season at The Grand, and help launch the future of more new plays at that theatre, is such a fitting way to connect our two theatres together, and celebrate the full journey of Trina’s beautiful play to the stage.” – Shari Wattling, Interim Artistic Director, Theatre Calgary

Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell

In Memory of Iris Turcott

London born Iris Turcott was the dramaturg who worked with the writer on the development of this play. Iris was known as an extraordinary champion of new work for stages across Canada. Silence will be the first play to emerge through our Compass program. The Grand Theatre dedicates Silence to her memory.

Iris Turcott