Oh, Canada! Festival of New Canadian Musicals Debuts Nov. 21

News   Oh, Canada! Festival of New Canadian Musicals Debuts Nov. 21 Is the Tony Award-winning musical, The Drowsy Chaperone — by Canadian writers who first launched it in Toronto — the herald announcing Canada as the next great source of new musicals?

Time will tell. In the meantime, organizers will help bang the drum of new Canadian musicals with six days of readings and events in the first annual Canadian Musical Theatre Festival, Nov. 21-26.

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The fest is presented by ScriptLab, a not-for-profit organization with a 17-year history of developing new work. Its artistic director is Jim Betts. Performances and special events will be at the newly restored Papermill Theatre at Todmorden Mills, 67 Pottery Road in Toronto.

The festival will showcase the work of Canadian musical theatre writers of the past, present and future. Out of the 100 artists involved, participating are composer Leslie Arden and performers Louise Pitre, Don Harron, Adam Brazier, Victor A. Young and Charlotte Moore.

"We're looking forward to celebrating the history and the future of the Canadian Musical Theatre," Festival artistic director Betts stated. "It's exciting to have a forum where we can feature some of our best shows, our best writers and our best performers and musicians. It will be a great opportunity to hear some wonderful material — some familiar, some new, and some unjustly forgotten." Festival executive producer and ScriptLab president Michael Rubninoff said in a statement, "Musicals written by Canadians have entertained international audiences with great success. The most current example is The Drowsy Chaperone, the acclaimed Broadway hit that was started in Toronto and written by Canadians. This Festival will provide Canadians with the rare opportunity to showcase and develop their work at home. It is our goal to provide new and existing shows with a launching pad so that they can be produced on main stages in Canada and around the world. This is an exciting first step."

The festival will kick off with a tribute to the history of musical theatre in Canada. Presenting songs from My Fur Lady to The Drowsy Chaperone, this gala event is a benefit in aid of the Actors' Fund. Tickets are $40. All other events are $10.

Here's a detailed schedule of the first annual Canadian Musical Theatre Festival.

  • Nov. 21, 8 PM
    Opening Gala — An Actors' Fund Benefit billed as "An Entertaining And Fast-Paced Tribute To The History Of Musical Theatre in Canada" from My Fur Lady to The Drowsy Chaperone.
  • Nov. 22, 8 PM
    Symposium on The Canadian Musical Theatre: "Where We've Been, Where We Are, and Where We're Going," moderated by Richard Ouzounian.
  • Nov. 23, 8 PM
    "A Tribute To Norman Campbell," composer of Anne of Green Gables, The Wonder Of it All, Turvey, including the Establishment of The Norman Campbell Award for Canadian Musical Theatre Writers — plus a reading of Turvey, a musical by Norman Campbell, Elaine Campbell and Don Harron.
  • Nov. 24, 8 PM
    A Showcase Reading of Fireweeds (Women of the Klondike) by Cathy Elliott.
  • Nov. 25, 2-5 PM
    Showcase Readings of Musicals In Development: Hot Dog (by Nelles Van Loon), The Elusive Tart (by Clive VanderBurgh) and Justine - Love Me (by Robert Swerdlow, Vinetta Strombergs, Justine Collective).
  • Nov. 25, 8 PM
    A Showcase Reading of The Giant's Garden by Scott White and Peter Fenton.
  • Nov. 26, 20-5 PM
    A Concert of Songs from Musicals in Development. For more information, visit www.scriptlab.ca, or visit www.TicketKing.com or call (416) 872-1212 or toll free (800) 461-3333.

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    Norman Campbell joined CBC Vancouver as a radio producer in 1948, moving to Toronto in 1952 to produce some of the first CBC telecasts. His reputation was built as a producer of ballet for TV, notably with the National Ballet of Canada, beginning with Swan Lake in 1956. He received the Prix René Barthélemy in 1966 for Romeo and Juliet and Emmy Awards in 1970 for Cinderella and in 1972 for The Sleeping Beauty. His CBC-TV musical "Anne of Green Gables" (1956) was adapted for a stage production (1965) at the Charlottetown Festival and became an annual presentation there. It also has been produced frequently in the United States and England. Campbell also worked in the states and directed TV specials for Liberace, Diana Ross, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Andy Williams in addition to episodes of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "All in the Family."

    Justine - Love Me originated in Toronto in 1970 and was renamed Love Me, Love My Children for New York and played Off-Broadway's Wooster Street Theatre in 1971-1972, garnering an Obie Award for star Salome Bay.