On April 29th get ready to Time Warp as your most authentic Dancing Queen self – all while supporting three Toronto musical theatre companies!
That’s right, Acting Up Stage, Angelwalk and Theatre 20 have joined together to host a Musical Theatre inspired dance party at The Drake Underground – and you are ALL invited. The best part? It’s totally free. Let me repeat that, it’s FREE.
When I first heard about this event I was immediately interested, both because I’m unabashedly in love with all things musicals, but also because it brings together so many wonderful people from our awesome community. In addition to the three amazing theatre companies, the evening will feature three guest DJs – the insanely funny and outrageous Sharrron Matthews, man about town and musical theatre hunk Justin Bott and theatre producer extraordinaire Derrick Chua.
To learn more about the inspiration behind the event (as IF we needed an excuse to party to showtunes) I spoke to Mitchell Marcus, the Artistic Director of Acting Up Stage. He explained the heart and soul of the dance party, the Trillium grant that allowed the evening to be free to attend and his desire to unite all those people who are fighting for musical theatre in Toronto:
Musical Theatre Dance Party! What was the inspiration behind it and what is your role in the evening?
We have a three-year Trillium grant (we are coming to the end of our second year) that supports a series of endeavours to build a community around our work. When we took a step back last year to evaluate, we decided that, while succeeding in many areas, we hadn’t yet found a sufficient way to bring musical theatre lovers together through the digital and in-person initiatives that we had launched. So for our second year’s plan, we added in a plan for a musical theatre party. When it came time to set the wheels in motion, I reached out to Theatre20 and Angelwalk to see if they wanted to co-present the evening with us. More and more it makes sense to me for those of us fighting for musical theatre to join forces and work collectively, so this felt like a really wonderful way to bring musical theatre lovers together under the banner of Toronto’s foremost musical theatre organizations.
Why do you think it’s so important for the community to support our not-for-profit musical theatre companies?
Because we are awesome!
Seriously though, musical theatre is not fundamentally a Canadian art form. It costs us far more than our non-musical counterparts to put on a production (by the time you add in the music department, choreographers, sound design and equipment, etc.) and we don’t necessarily (contrary to popular belief) have a larger potential audience than our straight play theatres (since none of us are really looking at commercial work). Plus, for those of us interested in original work, we are literally building – from scratch – the kind of programs that emerged in Toronto in the 1970s for Canadian playwrights, but without the available public funding that they had then.
Ultimately, Toronto never had not-for-profit musical theatre companies and now we are blessed with three. I think it’s vital to keep that momentum going which requires financial support.
But on the good news front, there is no fundraising happening on April 29. It’s a totally free event to just celebrate!
When you dance like no one is watching, what is your go-to showtune?
Oh my goodness. How do I choose one? This is the weirdest choice ever because it is neither a dance number nor a song, but the first 90 seconds of the overture for MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG makes me want to get up and dance across the office (and – when no one else was here – it has).
If you could grant one wish to Toronto’s musical theatre community, what would it be and why?
My wish is that we can raise our collective profile in the city. The amount of high quality content being generated is exceptional! Acting Up Stage, Angelwalk, Theatre20, Sharron Matthews, SINGular Sensation, the work being done at Sheridan College in the Canadian Musical Theatre Project. It is incredible. But we need the elevate the profile and importance of the Canadian musical theatre publicly so that we start to build a presence for a foreign art form that hasn’t ever really found its Toronto roots. Instead of looking at playbill.com ever day and seeing events I wish I could be at, I can’t wait for the time when New Yorkers look at Broadway Baby Toronto and wish they could be here.
Aw shucks – I certainly hope for the same thing! Will you save a dance for me?
Can I be the Fred to your Ginger?
So if you want to put on a tight skirt and flirt with a stranger (I’ve been waiting forever to use that), get your ass down to The Drake Underground on April 29th and support Toronto’s incredible artists in the process. You may even get to see this Ginger shake her booty with Fred! For more information or to put your name on the guest list email firstname.lastname@example.org