Uncover the Untold Heroines of WWII in The Invisible – Agents of Ungentlemanly Warfare at the Grand Theatre

In the shadowy depths of wartime intrigue, beneath the smoky veil of 1940s France, a group of seven unsung heroes emerge – shattering stereotypes and redefining valor. As the echo of sirens fades into the night, the Grand Theatre invites you to bear witness to their extraordinary tale - one that remains shrouded in secrecy no more.

Making its Ontario premiere on the Grand Theatre’s Spriet Stage from January 16 to February 3, 2024 is Catalyst Theatre’s fierce musical triumph: The Invisible – Agents of Ungentlemanly Warfare. From the Edmonton-based creative team behind the smash-hit musical Vigilante, comes a gripping story about the untold, true life events of undercover female agents in World War II. Packed with a gripping storyline, thrilling film-noir-meets-graphic-novel scenic design, and a powerful score, the production promises to delight, energize, and ignite London audiences.

“I was inspired to create The Invisible after finishing work on Vigilante,” remarks Jonathan Christenson, writer, composer, and director of the production. “Vigilante was a show that had seven male characters and only one female. I came off that show feeling like I really wanted to do a piece that had a strong female energy driving it.”

And, an explosion of fierce female energy is exactly what the show delivers. The story casts the spotlight on the Special Operations Executive – known by many as the SOE – a classified organization created by Winston Churchill that recruited secret agents to fight during WWII – using whatever tactics necessary. Yet, while history has told of the SOE, it often fails to reference one aspect: the role of women.

Seven women stand on stage, under moody but vibrant lights. Six stand by chairs, pointing towards the audience, while the seventh stands at the back of the stage.
The cast of The Invisible. Photo credit: Emily Cooper Photography.

The Invisible tells the story of seven exceptional female SOE agents, who – after months of training and successful assignments – 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 Nazi threat of their time, only to go completely unseen. Marrying elements of historical authenticity together with a compelling storytelling and the exhilaration of a Broadway musical, the production illuminates the past in a way that audiences won’t soon forget.   

With a true knack for bringing history to life, Christenson admitted that research for this show was incredibly satisfying. After pouring over 20 books, he discovered that 53 women from across Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia were recruited by the SOE as agents. From these true stories, he created the seven lead female characters of The Invisible – either based completely on a singular woman or inter-weaving the background of several. And while each character possesses different strengths and unique abilities, they all share one common trait: The readiness to lay down their lives for a better world.

Six women stand in a semi-circle behind a seventh woman who stands in the spotlight, under a blue cast of light.
The cast of The Invisible. Photo credit: Emily Cooper Photography.

Amidst escalating global tensions, Christenson maintains that this production is designed to entertain but is not solely driven by that purpose. Utilizing the power of art as a universal language, The Invisible reminds audiences of the importance of our shared humanity, the value of human life, and that if we don’t keep telling these stories, history will repeat itself.

While the production has powerful messaging for today, it had its official premiere in 2019 in Calgary’s Vertigo Theatre to captivated audiences and a sold out run. Critically, the show received ten Betty Mitchell Award nominations – a record-setting number in the Calgary-based theatre award’s history. Ultimately, the show walked away with three awards, including best show of the year.

A woman stands centre stage, posed as if in the midst of coding. The backdrop features lines of dots and dashes.
Tahirih Vejdani in The Invisible. Photo credit: Emily Cooper Photography.

But, this isn’t the first show where Catalyst Theatre has shined. The small, but mighty, theatre company is known for their visionary productions, such as the acclaimed Nevermore and the powerhouse rock musical Vigilante. Presenting the history of the notorious Donnelly family, Vigilante played to sold out audiences at the Grand Theatre in 2017, and brought back in February 2019 – due to overwhelming audience demand. The show remains one of the most requested at the Theatre.  

"I've been at the Grand for just a month, yet I've already witnessed the overwhelming demand and appreciation for Vigilante," remarks the Grand Theatre’s new Artistic Director, Rachel Peake. “But what Londoners may not know is that Vigilante is only one of the many gems produced by Catalyst Theatre. Filled with a vibrant story and seven remarkable women, I believe London audiences are in for a real surprise – and perhaps a new favourite production – after experiencing the enigma, intrigue, and ferocity of The Invisible!”

The Invisible – Agents of Ungentlemanly Warfare infiltrates the Grand Theatre’s Spriet Stage from January 16 to February 3, 2024. To not miss a moment of the action, reserve your seats now at: grandtheatre.com/event/the-invisible

Ready to experience this new musical tour-de-force? Tickets start at $23.

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