Grand Theatre announces the 2018/19 season

Featuring an International Hit on an Exclusive Canadian Stop, New Collaborations, New Play Development & More

LONDON, ON, March 22, 2018 – The Grand Theatre is thrilled to announce its 2018/19 Season. It is a season that brings the internationally acclaimed National Theatre from London, England to London, Ontario, and introduces collaborations with Canada’s leading theatrical companies including Stratford Festival, National Arts Centre, Catalyst Theatre, Charlottetown Festival, and Crow’s Theatre, among others. And, finally, works of Margaret Atwood and Timothy Findley, which have been adapted for the stage, come to the theatre.

Twelve productions on two stages plus a five-concert series, the Grand’s 2018/19 Season is proudly sponsored by BMO Financial Group.

“Since we introduced our new vision ‘World Curious, London Proud’ last year, it’s become foundational to our season planning. In this 2018/19 season, some very exciting theatre companies and exceptional artists are coming to London,” said Garnhum. “We continue to tell our stories on our stages, explore our theatre spaces, look for new ways to immerse audiences, and enrich the theatre experience for everyone.”

Marking a first for the Grand, a co-production of England’s National Theatre, Fuel, and West Yorkshire Playhouse brings the international hit BARBER SHOP CHRONICLES to London, Ontario for its only Canadian stop. From its world premiere at the National Theatre in England, followed by tours in Australia and New Zealand, the production launches its North American tour this fall and comes from California to the Grand for an exclusive 12-show run in November.

“It's thrilling for us to be touring BARBER SHOP CHRONICLES from London, England to London, Ontario. It's Fuel's first collaboration with the Grand and it feels absolutely fitting to be bringing this production to a theatre dedicated to presenting stories that remind us of our collective humanity. After England, Australia, and New Zealand, we can't wait to share this story with audiences in Canada,” said Producer Sarah Wilson-White.

Opening the season is Garnhum’s adaptation of TIMOTHY FINDLEY'S THE WARS. Garnhum worked with the renowned author to create this stage adaptation which premiered at Theatre Calgary in 2007. The Grand’s production commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War and closes on November 11.

In addition to THE WARS, Grand’s ‘made in London’ productions include Margaret Atwood’s stage adaptation of her novella, THE PENELOPIAD. Megan Follows, who starred in the lead role of Penelope in the 2012 premiere at Nightwood Theatre, directs this all-female cast.

The Grand is also creating a daring new immersive production of CABARET. Directed by Garnhum, it will turn the McManus Stage and lobby into the Kit Kat Club. PROM QUEEN: THE MUSICAL, also directed by Garnhum, is the Grand’s High School Project production, and this year marks the first time the Project takes a new Canadian musical to the stage. And finally, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play AUGUST WILSON'S FENCES will be directed by Djanet Sears and star Factory Theatre’s Nigel Shawn Williams, who has previously directed at the Grand.

“AUGUST WILSON'S FENCES is one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, and Troy Maxson, the protagonist, is the most compelling anti-hero ever written for the stage. Nigel Shawn Williams was born to play this role, and I am thrilled to get the opportunity to direct him in it at the Grand,” said Sears.

New collaborations for the 2018/19 Season include a co-production with Charlottetown Festival to premiere MAMMA MIA! at the Grand, which then travels to Charlottetown for the summer season; Crow’s Theatre with its production of THE BOY IN THE MOON, starring Liisa Repo-Martell, David Storch, and Kelly McNamee; and timeshare’s new production of MAGGIE & PIERRE, starring Kaitlyn Riordan and directed by Rob Kempson. Plus the Grand’s SILENCE, which had its world premiere here in January 2018, heads to the NAC’s English Theatre in Ottawa to open its 50th Anniversary Season.

Due to the overwhelming demand, Catalyst Theatre brings the ghosts of the Donnellys back to London in VIGILANTE with the original cast, including Jan Alexandra Smith. And Garnhum’s adaptation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL returns as a new holiday tradition with an added Victorian market in the lobby.

COMPASS New Play Development

The season is punctuated with the evolution of new works under the Grand’s COMPASS New Play Development program launched last year. In a limited four-show run, Spontaneous Theatre will workshop Rebecca Northan’s new improv adventure, AN UNDISCOVERED SHAKESPEARE on the McManus Stage as part of COMPASS and the Stratford Festival Laboratory. Cast with some of Canada’s top improv talent, this production will spontaneously create Shakespeare’s ‘lost play’ based on a willing audience member’s romantic adventures – in iambic pentameter.

Also just announced under the COMPASS umbrella, Trina Davies, who wrote SILENCE, will be the playwright for AMBROSE SMALL: AN EXTRAVAGANTLY MUSICAL, MYSTERIOUSLY GRAND GHOST STORY. Melanie Florence has been confirmed as the new playwright for STARLIGHT TOURS, which was originally commissioned to be written by Playwright Cathy Elliot who passed away suddenly last fall. Florence will work with Composer and Lyricist Leslie Arden. Also in development is GUY LOMBARDO’S NEW YEAR’S EVE with orchestrations and music by Dave Pierce, and LONDON BRIDGES, a tale of two cities, to be commissioned this season.

Other 2018/19 Season Highlights include

  • After a sell-out season, Jeans ‘n Classics presented by VersaBank is back at the Grand for a third year with five new concerts.
  • The theatre’s first collaboration with Western University will bring The Walrus Talks to the Spriet Stage on November 5, 2018, during the run of THE WARS. Seven speakers talk for seven minutes on topics related to the title of this year’s event, Remembrance.
  • Following a successful 2018 tour, 100 Schools returns with an all new production that will travel to 100 more schools in the region, at no cost to the schools.
  • Teachers Club and Students Club return with a 6-show package and will include special post-show events.
  • New to the season is the Wednesday Speak Easy. Every Wednesday after a performance, patrons are invited to stay for a post-show talk. The bar will be open and the conversation lively.

The Grand Theatre would like to extend its appreciation to all funding partners with special thanks to Season Sponsor, BMO Financial Group and Production Title Sponsors Western Fair District, Bluestone Properties, McCormick, London Life, 3M, rTraction and VersaBank. Additional funding support from Libro Credit Union, Downtown London, Thames Valley District School Board, and London Catholic District School Board is also gratefully acknowledged along with many other community partners and donors.

Season subscriptions, with savings of up to 25% off the regular single ticket price, are now on sale to subscribers at, by phone at 519-672-8800, or at the Box Office, 471 Richmond Street. 

About the Grand Theatre

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director Deb Harvey, the Grand is a leading cultural hub located in the heart of downtown London, Ontario. The Grand offers diverse, relevant, and original stories from around the globe through collaborations with national and international performing arts organizations and is committed to developing, producing, and premiering original stories through COMPASS New Play Development program. The Grand supports educational programming with The High School Project, the only program of its kind in North America, and 100 Schools, a community initiative that brings professional theatre to London-area schools at no cost. The Grand’s season runs from September to May.

For more information, contact:  
Kate Rapson, Communications Manager, Grand Theatre  
519-672-9030 ext. 246 | krapson [at] (krapson[at]grandtheatre[dot]com)

2018/19 SEASON


Book by Kent Staines  
Music by Colleen Dauncey 
Lyrics by Akiva Romer-Segal 
Produced by Mary Young Leckie 
Based on the true life story of Marc Hall 
Directed by Dennis Garnhum

Opens September 21

Prom Queen: The Musical tells the true story of Marc Hall, a teen who in 2002 wanted to bring his boyfriend to the school prom. A celebration of young people standing proudly for themselves, this award-winning production features 50 students on stage and another 30 backstage, bringing an authentic voice to a remarkable story.

Title Sponsor Western Fair District | Program Sponsor Thames Valley District School Board | Make a Difference Community Pillar Partner Libro Credit Union

A Workshop Production presented by the Grand Theatre and  
the Stratford Festival


A Spontaneous Theatre production by Rebecca Northan


One audience member. One love story. Ten beats per line.

When William Shakespeare finds himself with writer’s block, his Muse delivers inspiration in the form of a surprise guest with a story to tell. At each performance, a willing patron is invited on stage to sit down with the Bard and share their personal love story. Every life is Shakespearean.

Award-winning actor/improviser Rebecca Northan and a cast of some of Canada’s top improv talent spontaneously create Shakespeare’s “lost play” based on one person’s real-life romantic adventures — in iambic pentameter.

In development through the Grand’s COMPASS New Play Development program and the Stratford Festival Laboratory.

Title Sponsor rTraction


Adapted and Directed by Dennis Garnhum

Opens October 26

This fall we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War and honour the sacrifices of our soldiers past and present with the Governor General Award-winning story, The Wars. By one of Canada’s most distinguished authors, this Canadian classic follows young Robert Ross from his Toronto family home to the muddy battlefields of France. Intense and powerful, The Wars reminds us of the sacrifice of our soldiers in the “war to end all wars.”

Title Sponsor Bluestone Properties

A Fuel, National Theatre, and West Yorkshire Playhouse co-production


Written by Inua Ellams

NOVEMBER 15 to 24, 2018 | SPRIET STAGE

Newsroom, political platform, local hot spot, confession box, preacher-pulpit, and football stadium. For generations, African men have gathered in barber shops to discuss the world. This dynamic new play leaps from a barber shop in London to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos, and Accra. These are places where the banter can be barbed and the truth is always telling.

Title Sponsor McCormick


A Crow’s Theatre Production 
By Emil Sher based on a book by Ian Brown 
Directed by Chris Abraham 
Starring Kelly McNamee, Liisa Repo-Martell, and David Storch


The true story of a family’s journey of raising their son Walker, severely disabled due to a rare genetic disorder. This award-winning memoir by CBC Radio and Globe and Mail journalist Ian Brown, powerful and moving in print, is even more extraordinary on stage. Director Chris Abraham reflects upon the impact of the play in that “it challenges us to think about the fundamentally fragile and uncertain nature of parenting and of life.”


By Charles Dickens 
Adapted by Dennis Garnhum  
Directed by Megan Watson 
Based on original direction by Dennis Garnhum

Opens December 7

This Grand production of the Dickens classic debuted last season, delighting and warming the hearts of thousands with its message of hope. Immerse yourself in this spectacle of Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation at the hands of the three ghostly spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet-to-Come. Return to all the magic, music, and sheer joy of this acclaimed adaptation and begin your brand new holiday tradition!

Title Sponsor London Life

Margaret Atwood’s


Directed by Megan Follows

Opens January 25

“Now that I’m dead, I know everything.” So begins Penelope, the famously faithful wife of the Greek hero Odysseus, speaking from the afterlife in Hades. This all-female company retells Homer’s Odyssey through Penelope’s eyes: her husband’s return, along with vengeance and a shocking and violent injustice. Canadian literary icon Margaret Atwood flips the classical myth on its head, giving voice to the chorus of ten handmaidens. With acerbic wit and in-spired originality, this contemporary take on an ancient tale is Atwood at her finest.


By Linda Griffiths with Paul Thompson 
A timeshare Production 
Directed by Rob Kempson 
Starring Kaitlyn Riordan


Maggie is a 20-something flower child. Pierre is a 50-something Prime Minister. Henry is a reporter trying to make sense of a real-life soap opera playing out in front of a whole nation. The parents of our current Prime Minister come to life in a one-woman, Dora Award-winning show on the making of Canada’s most famous romance. Electric and hilarious, it takes on a whole new resonance now that their son is in office.


Book, Music, & Lyrics by Jonathan Christenson 
Commissioned by the Citadel Theatre/Developed in collaboration with the National Arts Centre 
A Catalyst Theatre Production 
Directed by Jonathan Christenson 
Starring Jan Alexandra Smith

Opens February 22

The story of the Donnellys — the shocking massacre of Johannah Donnelly and her devoted sons in nearby Lucan in 1880 — can still freeze the blood. With a pulsing rock musical score, the Donnellys come back to life to haunt us once more. Edmonton’s Catalyst Theatre returns with its powerhouse cast, led by the towering performance of Jan Alexandra Smith, in this tale of brutal revenge and frontier justice.

August Wilson’s FENCES

Directed by Djanet Sears 
Starring Nigel Shawn Williams

Opens March 22

All great plays are about family. Set in Pittsburgh in the 1950s, a former Negro League baseball star now supports his family by working as a trash collector. The literal fence in the play is set in contrast to the poetic ones that Troy, his wife Rose, and his sons keep building up and trying to tear down. You’ll see why this is one of the most honoured plays of American theatre, winning the Pulitzer Prize along with Tony and Drama Desk awards for best new play.


Book by Joe Masteroff 
Based on the play by John Van Druten and Stories by  
Christopher Isherwood 
Music by John Kander, Lyrics by Fred Ebb 
Directed by Dennis Garnhum

Opens April 11

“Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome.” Follow Sally Bowles downstairs as she navigates the nightclub underworld of Berlin on the edge of fascism. Be drawn into the excesses and decadence of a time where everything was possible — until it wasn’t. Considered one of the greatest musicals ever, presented in a gritty, stripped-down, intimate setting that will extend from the McManus lobby and bar to the stage. Come to the Kit Kat Club, if you dare.


Music and Lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus 
And some songs with Stig Anderson  
Book by Catherine Johnson  
Originally Conceived by Judy Craymer 
Co-production with the Charlottetown Festival 
Directed by Adam Brazier

Opens April 26

Summer, warm breezes, Greece, all of your favourite ABBA songs: pure musical heaven. Sophie is getting married and wants to find her father so he can walk her down the aisle. But how to persuade her mom, Donna, to reveal the long-held secret of who he is? Add an idyllic Mediterranean setting, three possible dads, the hits of the greatest dance band ever, and you have the most popular musical of our time.

Title Sponsor 3M


Peter Brennan’s Jeans ’n Classics presented by VersaBank returns with a brand new five-concert series performing the best of rock and pop.

AMAZING ‘80s    October 4
THE WHO    January 10

100 Schools

Following the success of its 2018 launch with the tour of Beethoven Lives Upstairs, 100 Schools returns this season to delight another 100 elementary schools! The program will again travel across the region, transforming school gymnasiums and auditoriums into magical spaces of inspiration and discovery through the power of live theatre. Thanks to the generous support of our donors and sponsors, more than 30,000 elementary students in public, private, and home schools across the region will experience the 100 Schools Tour in 2019 — all at no cost to the schools.

Make a Difference Community Pillar Partner Libro Credit Union | Program Sponsors Thames Valley District School Board, London District Catholic School Board