From big tops to coffee shops, all of London’s a stage for Grand Theatre’s new season

Grand Theatre Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum announcing 2020-2021 season for the Grand Theatre. / Sawyer Bogdan Global News. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

From the big top to a coffee shop, the Grand Theatre’s new season is taking audiences out of the confines of the traditional theatre setting with some of its upcoming productions.

The 2020-21 season will be a mix of some exciting new productions, like upcoming summer blockbuster In the Heights, and old favourites like Cabaret and Barnum.

The theatre has three productions that are breaking away from the norm, like the Canadian premiere of User Not Found, an interactive production taking place offsite at Commonwealth Coffee shop and, most notably, the high school production of the musical Barnum.

Barnum will be taking place under an actual circus tent during the Western Fair, which Grand artistic director Dennis Garnhum called “a once-in-a-lifetime experience” for students and the audience.

“We are looking for students with circus talents, singing talents, dancing talents, fire eaters, jugglers,” Garnhum said. “I want to find out what the city has.

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“We want to evoke the spirit of a carnival, of a fair, of a circus to make sure we have as much fun in the spirit of what P.T. Barnum created.”

In the lead up to the opening of the new season in September, the Grand will be undergoing an $8-million renovation to transform the front and back of house to modernize and create a better user experience.

READ MORE: The show must go on — London’s Grand Theatre to undergo $8-million renovation

“The theme this year is 12 plays on 10 stages, so we’re all over the country with our Cabaret tour, but with the renovations, it got us excited about where else can we be in our community,” Garnhum said.

Londoners are also going to get the opportunity to experience In the Heights — a musical by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, and also a highly anticipated summer blockbuster to be released in June.

“I am excited by the audience coming in and having that sexy heated time of music,” said Garnhum. “Everyone will see the movie, but there’s nothing better than seeing it live on stage.”

Grand executive director Deb Harvey said the partnerships the theatre has developed this season will play a role as the theatre looks to the future.

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“We’re trying to take our theatre to Canadians and the world and try to bring the world to us.”

The Grand currently has partnerships with Covent Garden in London, England, Neptune Theatre in Nova Scotia and Mirvish Theatres in Toronto.

“It lets people across Canada and internationally sees the quality of our work, and we can match anyone internationally with the quality of our team,” Harvey said.

A full list of this year’s lineup is as follows:

High school project
Sept. 10-20, 2020

Neptune Theatre’s production of The East Coast Kitchen Party
October 13 – 31, 2020

Gavin Crawford’s What’s Up Dad? And Other Dangerous Questions
Special workshop presentation under the COMPASS New Play Development Program
Oct. 27, 28, 30 and 31, 2020

User Not Found
Canadian premiere
Nov. 17-Dec. 5, 2020

November 24 – December 27, 2020

In the Wake of Wettlaufer
Featuring R.H. Thompson
Jan. 19-31, 2021

Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes
Feb. 2-13, 2021

Shaw Festival’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac
Feb. 16-March 6, 2021

Back by popular demand
March 17-April 10, 2021

In the Heights
From the creator of Hamilton
March 23-April 10, 2021

Kidoons in association with Theatre Calgary and the 20K Collective presents Boom X
April 20 – May 8, 2021

Jeans ‘N Classics
Spriet Stage
Nov. 5, 2020; Jan. 7, March 11, April 15, May 27, 2021

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