Evan Klassen stands at the stage door of the Grand Theatre

Return to Roots for Grand Theatre Executive Director, Evan Klassen

April 30, 2024 – London ON – Just as the seasons bring change to the air outside, the Grand Theatre has change ahead of its upcoming 2024/25 season. Rachel Peake, Artistic Director, and George Kerhoulas, President of the Board of Directors, have announced today that Evan Klassen will step away as the Grand’s Executive Director in late July 2024. Following in the footsteps of his longtime mentor, Klassen returns to his hometown of Winnipeg as the next Executive Director of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, the theatre where he began his career.

“Evan joined the Grand at a pivotal moment as the company was headed towards its first full post-pandemic season of in-person theatre. This was a moment of great change and reflection across the arts world, and Evan helped gracefully lead the Grand through it,” shares Rachel Peake. “Since arriving in London, Evan and his partner Bert, have been at the heart of the Grand and the London community. Evan’s experience as an empathetic and collaborative arts leader has seen us through ongoing recovery and renewal, and he has worked tirelessly with our team to create the best theatre, right here in London. We are extremely grateful for the impact he has made on our organization in his time with us.”

“Evan’s tenure at the Grand has seen us through two beautiful, powerful seasons marked by timeless classics, large-scale musicals, and compelling new works while renewing the Grand’s focus on rebuilding our audiences. Evan led the organization to new subscription and sales strategies and created new and exciting patron perks,” shares George Kerhoulas. “In partnering with our new Downtown Community Partner, Old Oak Properties, it is easier than ever to plan a night downtown at the theatre with free parking for all Spriet Stage season subscribers. This unprecedented 5-year partnership will assist the theatre in attracting new subscribers for years to come.”

“Behind the curtain of busy seasons, fuller houses, and new partnerships, Evan has been working alongside the theatre’s leadership team and the Board of Directors to define the Grand’s next chapter, all building towards our new Grand Theatre Strategic Plan to be unveiled this summer before Evan concludes his time with us,” continues Kerhoulas.

Originally from Winnipeg, Klassen joined the Grand Theatre as Executive Director in 2022, having previously held a variety of leadership roles in the arts and culture sector across Canada. Locally, Evan has served as a director for the London Chamber of Commerce and nationally, is the Treasurer for the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. “Winnipeg is home. It’s where my family is from, and my partner’s family, and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre is the theatre where I started out and built my theatrical career, making this a natural homecoming,” shares Klassen. “I’m excited about this next chapter, and yet also find it bittersweet, not to have more time here at the Grand with this beautiful theatre in this close-knit community, with the Grand’s fantastic team, and seeing more world-class theatre come to life on the Grand’s stages. I will leave the Grand in the capable hands of our Artistic Director, Rachel Peake, and guided by the Grand’s new strategic plan full of vision and opportunity, and with a 2024/25 season that is already keeping our Box Office busy. We are moving the needle, and we’re not done yet.”

“Theatre in Canada is truly a community, and the Grand often comes together with peers on co-productions and collaborations – including this season’s Clue which was a co-production with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, as was Once in our 2017/18 season,” shares Peake. “Working together in this way brings great Canadian stories to stages coast to coast, allowing the country’s best and most brilliant to collide creatively, and gives productions – such as Clue and Once – a longer life on more stages, in more cities, with more audiences.” Next season, the Grand has three such co-productions that will see Heist, The Secret to Good Tea, and Waitress each carry the banner of the Grand, and of London, to Edmonton, Ottawa, and Hamilton respectively. “With Evan moving to Royal MTC, we certainly look forward to continuing to collaborate with our colleagues in Manitoba in the years to come,” says Peake.




The Grand Theatre acknowledges and honours the original stewards of the land on which our Theatre stands. We extend our gratitude to and recognize the Attawandaron (also known as Neutral), Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, and Lūnaapéewak peoples as the original caretakers of this land upon which we live, work, and tell stories together.

About the Grand Theatre – World Curious. London Proud.

In the heart of downtown London, Ontario lies one of Canada’s oldest regional theatres and a leading cultural hub of today: the Grand Theatre. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Rachel Peake, and Executive Director Evan Klassen, the Grand proudly brings diverse, relevant, and original stories from around the globe – and around the corner – to London and the Southwestern Ontario region. The not-for-profit, charitable arts organization is committed to developing, producing, and premiering original stories through its COMPASS New Play Development program. The Grand is also a centre for arts education, as demonstrated through our flagship program, the annual High School Project, through apprenticeships and placements, and by bringing students to subsidized student matinees. For more information, visit: grandtheatre.com.

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For more information please contact:
Melissa Mae Shipley, Communications and Public Relations Manager
mshipley [at] grandtheatre.com (mshipley[at]grandtheatre[dot]com)
office: 519-672-9030 ext. 266
cell: 519 280 4008