BY TYLER COLLINS
Theatre Sheridan and the college’s Bachelors of Music Theatre Performance program announced their upcoming playbill of productions for the 2017/2018 season last week. Theatre Sheridan revealed the six staged productions that will be mounted by students at Trafalgar Campus theatres between this November and April 2018.
“Choosing our productions every year, our first goal is setting up our students for success,” says Michael Rubinoff, producer for Theatre Sheridan and the Canadian Music Theatre Project (CMTP). The Project is Sheridan’s wildly successful musical development program for new Canadian works, including the current broadway hit Come From Away.
“Our team spends over a year selecting shows for our playbill,” says Rubinoff. “We have a committee in our department to discuss which shows we will look at producing for the season, but we want to make sure the shows fit the students each year.”
Theatre Sheridan is the in-house company that produces musical theatre in both the MacDonald-Heaslip-Hall mainstage and Studio Theatre venues in Oakville. The performers are all third- and fourth-year students in Trafalgar’s Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance program, while the production crew comprised Sheridan’s Technical Theatre Production students and industry professionals from theatre companies across Canada and beyond.
The main stage in MacDonald-Heaslip Hall features three similar musicals this season. All are stories about backstage life in the theatre, set during the roaring 1920s. But that doesn’t mean they’re the same. Each features a different style of music, and different locations give the stories range between comedy, romance, and mystery.
“We didn’t do this on purpose,” says Rubinoff. “These themes come naturally between the pieces.” Instead of themes between the shows, he says they productions were chosen to showcase their current students’ unique talents.
“We have a socially conscious fourth-year class, and they’re very into social justice,” Rubinoff continues. “While professional companies build seasons around themes, we’re building ours to the strengths and of our students, and how they serve ideas they’re passionate about.”
On the main stage, the first show will be the world premiere of Trap Door, the new musical by Morris Panych and Anika and Britta Johnson. Trap Door is this year’s installment of the CMTP. The show premieres in late November.
“Trap Door is our first new musical on the main stage,” explains Rubinoff. “We’ve made a commitment to not just developing new musicals – it’s important we also program them into our season. The success of the CMTP has given us the confidence to bring it to the main stage.”
As for the production itself, Rubinoff is sworn to secrecy about the contents of the show beyond the main character’s name – Ambrose. But about bringing it from the Studio Theatre to the main stage? “We felt the production demanded coming to MacDonald [Heaslip] Hall,” he said.
Also in MacDonald-Heaslip Hall will be Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate in February. Finally, the season will close with Crazy For You, the Best Musical-winning comedy by Ken Ludwig with songs by George and Ira Gershwin. Crazy For You opens in April.
In the more intimate and innovative Studio Theatre, the first production will be a new staging of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. The show will be directed by Kate Hennig, currently the associate director of the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake. “It’s a total reimagination,” says Rubinoff. “Wait until you see what we do with casting.”
Next year brings two less conventional choices for the department to the Studio Theatre. February brings a musicalization of Marc Blitzstein’s epic play The Cradle Will Rock. And mid-April brings the recent New York hit If/Then, recently seen on broadway in 2015 starring Idina Menzel. The show’s writers, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for their musical Next to Normal.
Rubinoff describes the effort and time it takes to plan the shows for each new season. “There’s quite a lot of discussion that goes into crafting a season,” he said. “I’m over the moon about the education our students receive from faculty, but our visiting directors get students excited to work. And I’m excited they want to come and work here.”
“And this year is a special thing,” Rubinoff adds. “It’s thrilling to have the best in business come for our students to build great relationships in the industry. But it’s also great for the public to come and see what Sheridan students can do.”
Tickets for all six productions and season subscriptions are on sale now online and by phone at 905-815-4049. Tickets can also be purchased in-person at the Theatre Sheridan Box Office, located in the B Wing of Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus.
To learn more about this season’s productions and to buy tickets, visit Theatre Sheridan’s online box office.
Theatre Sheridan’s 2017/2018 Season
TRAP DOOR, November 28 – December 10, 2017
KISS ME, KATE, February 13 – 25, 2018
CRAZY FOR YOU, April 10 – 22, 2018
INTO THE WOODS, November 30 – December 10, 2017
THE CRADLE WILL ROCK, February 15 – 25, 2018
IF/THEN, April 12 – 22, 2018