Grand Theatre, Ontario

Grand Theatre, Ontario

The Grand Theatre is a professional theatre located on Richmond Street just south of Dufferin Avenue in London, Ontario, Canada.

Its main auditorium has a seating capacity of more than 800 with a regular play season running from roughly September to April. In addition, it has a secondary venue called The McManus Studio, located in the lower floor for smaller scale productions.


The theatre opened on September 9, 1901 under the ownership of the theatre magnate, Ambrose Small who reportedly considered this theatre his favourite of his numerous similar holdings. When he disappeared in 1919, it is rumoured that he haunts the building to this day. This building was investigated in the first episode of "The Girly Ghosthunters" show in 2005.

With the rise of film entertainment, the theatre was equipped for film presentation when it was sold to Famous Players in 1924. In 1945, the theatre chain sold the building to the London Little Theatre company for a relatively modest price and the theatre became an amateur stage venue.

In 1971, the theatre company became a professional organization. In 1975, the governing board decided to react to the deteriorating state of the building with a major reconstruction that was completed in 1978. The reconstruction including reinforcing the main stage's proscenium arch as the sole major component of the building's original design and the addition of the McManus Studio as a secondary venue.

The High School Project

The Grand Theatre's High School Project is unique in North America. It gives high school students from London and surrounding area the chance to work with professional directors, choreographers, and stage managers.

Annually (since 1998), a full-length musical is performed on the main stage featuring a full cast of high school students. The original intention was for the productions to be annually cycled between a Broadway musical, a Shakespeare piece, and a Canadian piece. However, due to the success of West Side Story in 1998, the High School Project remained a Broadway musical from 2000 on.

Students also assist in stage management, and in the building of set, costume, and props. In lieu of the 10th anniversary of the High School Project, a video component was integrated into the program. The objective of this was to document the progress of the students in each department and of the show, overall.

Recently, the High School Project added a Shakespeare component, to be performed in the spring, leaving the Musical component to be performed in the fall.

The following is a list of High School Project stage productions that have been performed on the Grand Theatre's main stage:
* "West Side Story" (1998)
* "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999)
* "Guys and Dolls" (2000)
* "Hello, Dolly!" (2001)
* "Oliver!" (2002)
* "The Music Man" (2003)
* "Fiddler on the Roof" (2004)
* "Oklahoma!" (2005)
* "The Sound of Music" (Fall 2005)
* "Twelfth Night" (Spring 2006, McManus Studio)
* "West Side Story" (Fall 2006)
* "Romeo and Juliet" (Spring 2007; McManus Studio)
* "" (Fall 2007)
* "Listen to the Wind" (Spring 2008; McManus Studio)
* "The Pirates of Penzance" (Fall 2008)
* "As You Like It" (Spring 2009; McManus Studio)

Other programming

The Grand Theatre also presents a series of productions in the McManus Studio called The UnderGrand series which presents more alternative fare. In addition to individual plays, there is the Playwright's Cabaret, a playwriting showcase where local playwrights are invited to write 10 minute sketches for a public performance.

Artistic Directors

* Peter Dearing (1957-1968)
* Heinar Pillar (1971–1976)
* William Hutt (1976–1980)
* Bernard Hopkins (1980–1983)
* Robin Phillips (1983-1984)
* Don Shipley (1984-1986)
* Larry Lillo (1986-1988)
* Martha Henry (1988–1995)
* Michael Shamata (1995–1999)
* Kelly Handerek (1999–2001)
* Susan Ferley (2001-present)

External links

* [ Grand Theatre's official site]
* [ Link to a Virtual Tour of the Grand Theatre]

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