Theatre 20: Artist led, Story-Driven – A new venture for Toronto’s musical theatre scene

On January 20, Toronto saw the birth of Theatre 20: a not-for-profit, artist-run company with the development, education and celebration of musical theatre at the core of its mandate.

Toronto is a town that loves its musicals.  In addition to the big shows presented by Mirvish and Dancap, Toronto’s many not-for-profit theatre companies produce a wealth of musicals every year.   So what will this new company bring to the scene?

Theatre 20 hopes to distinguish itself in several ways:

The exclusive focus on musicals: Theatre 20 will focus on the development of original Canadian musicals as well as the re-imagining of traditional musicals from existing repertoire.

The fact that it’s an artist-led musical theatre company: Theatre 20 will be run by a collective of approximately twenty Toronto-based artists.  The list includes internationally renowned Dora and Tony award-winners who have performed on Broadway and West End stages; Louise Pitre (Mamma Mia), Colm Wilkinson (Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera), Ma-Anne Dionisio (Miss Saigon) to name a few.

The company’s dedication to education and community outreach: Theatre 20 aims to work with school boards and post-secondary schools on musical theatre curriculum development as well as offering mentorships and master classes to foster the next generation of Canadian musical theatre talent.

At Thursday’s launch artistic director Adam Brazier boldly proclaimed that the vision of Theatre 20 was to be “the voice of the great unsung musicals” and aims to create “theatre that asks big questions and explores big ideas” and ultimately aims to create work that is “evocative, memorable and challenging”.

Brazier also emphasized Theatre 20’s goal to address the lack of opportunity for musical theatre artists in Canada and to develop and foster this country’s musical theatre talent.

Theatre 20’s goals are admirable, if ambitious but its first steps are modest.

Theatre 20’s first project is a workshop of Sisters, an English-language adaptation of the hit Québécois musical Belles-Soeurs.

The company did not announce a first season line up and does not expect to produce its first show until 2012.  Instead, the company aims to spend this first year building its fundraising base and presenting an intimate concert series at its new home, The Panasonic Theatre.

Whether this new company can live up to its lofty vision remains to be seen but with the ambition and talent already in abundance Theatre 20 has the potential to have a great, positive impact on musical theatre in Toronto.  They’ll certainly be a company to watch in the coming years.

Theatre 20’s founding artists are Tamara Bernier Evans, Adam Brazier, Evan Buliung, Brent Carver, Dan Chameroy, Juan Chioran, Ma-Anne Dionisio, Susan Gilmour, Trish Lindström, David Keeley, Nora McLellan, Louise Pitre, Eliza-Jane Scott, Carly Street, Steven Sutcliffe and Colm Wilkinson.

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4 thoughts on “Theatre 20: Artist led, Story-Driven – A new venture for Toronto’s musical theatre scene”

  1. Ok so the founding artists seem to number 16 and all of a sudden I am reminded of a particular song from Sesame St.
    Can you figure out which one?


  2. Indeed. It crossed my mind as well. And, one imagines they’ll mostly be casting from within the 16 for the first while at the very least.

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