Toronto's Brookstone Theatre is a small professional company that specializes in mini-musicals and works out of intimate Elmore's Hall on Lowther Avenue, a converted space in mid-town.
Although the company has drawn many good reviews, it has been challenged with bringing in large audiences and word-of-mouth. Now, despite funding cutbacks, Brookstone entrepenuers have decided to take the plunge and try to break into the big-time -- by bringing in their newest show, Tent Meeting. The press were very supportive of the show's debut in Vancouver last season, calling this new Canadian musical about the reunion of a gospel quartet "light on the storyline," but "full of exquisite moments" in a "production full of tremendous goodwill, fun and joyful celebration".
The writers are Morris Ertman and Ron Reed. Ertman, who is directing Tent Meeting, is best known in Ontario for his design work, including Robin Phillips' production of Man of La Mancha, the Canadian Opera Company's The Marriage of Figaro and Stratford Festival's A Fitting Confusion. Ertman co-wrote Tent Meeting in 1983 as a personal ode to a bygone era.
Co-author Reed won a Chalmers Award in the Young Audience category for his 1997 Book of The Dragon and is managing artistic director of Vancouver's Pacific Theatre, a professional theatre company with its own venue.
As for Tent Meeting, which opens in Toronto today, it broke every box office record in Pacific Theatre's 14-year history. The Toronto production will feature Kent Staines, well-known to Toronto audiences for his acclaimed work in Brad Fraser's Poor Superman at Canadian Stage Company in 1995.
Tent Meeting runs from April 3 to May 10 at Elmore's Hall. For tickets call: 416-922-1238.
By Mira Friedlander