For the past 20 years, Ross Petty has played wicked villains, sometimes wearing a dress.
The wicked villains are part of the subversive fun Ross Petty Productions produces at the Elgin Theatre, but this season Petty won’t be acting in the show.
After 20 years at the helm of the popular family shows, Petty felt the combination of producing and acting was “getting to be a bit overwhelming and exhausting, because… you know, I’m 39 years old now,” Petty said in our podcast interview at his home in Toronto.
I Love Being Abusive to the Audience
Petty admitted struggling with the choice between either producing the shows or acting in them, a tough decision because “I love being abusive to the audience and having their abuse flow over the footlights.”
Bertha Von Botox (2008)
He decided to take his final bow in the 2016 production of “Peter Pan,” which marked twenty consecutive years of performing at the Elgin Theatre.
The choice left him with the difficult task of casting a replacement for himself in the upcoming production of “Sleeping Beauty.”
“I didn’t want to put a male actor in the tough spot of being compared to me,” so Petty cast Hilary Farr, from the hit TV show “Love or List it” to be his evil replacement.
Farr, plays the evil adversary to A.J. Bridel’s Sleeping Beauty.
When Petty first approached Farr about the role, she jumped at the chance, confessing, “I love these shows, I grew up with them in England.”
Farr is a natural in the role that the audience loves to hate, because, as Petty delicately stated, she has an “imperious way about her, she’s very haughty.”
Plus Farr has played on the stages of Broadway and London’s West End.
Farr’s background in England couldn’t be further from Petty’s, who grew up as the son of a Czechoslovakian butcher who emigrated to Winnipeg. His mother was a piano teacher and supported Petty’s interest in the arts.
Petty Dreamed of Performing in London, Paris and New York
In our podcast interview Petty says that soon after graduating from the University of Manitoba he left Winnipeg to pursue his dream of performing in London, Paris and New York.
His extensive career includes performing at London’s West End and the legendary Lido Cabaret in Paris. In the U.S. and Canada, Petty played the title role in Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd,” directed by Hal Prince.
Petty made his Broadway debut in Arthur Kopit’s “Wings,” co-starred with Ginger Rogers and Sid Caesar in a national tour of Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” and created the role of Eddie Dorrance on TV’s “All My Children.”
He lives in Toronto with his wife Karen Kain, Artistic Director of the National Ballet of Canada.
Brett Gundlock The Toronto Star
Petty is one of Canada’s most successful and enduring theatrical impresarios.
If you’ve ever produced a show, you’ll want to listen to our podcast because Petty talks about how he went from being an actor in the shows to taking over as producer, securing sponsors, hiring writers, actors, and being the driving force behind one of Canada’s most successful, ongoing theatrical events.
He also mentions the steps he took to create financial stability after losing a lot of money on a production.
As well as doing all that for 20 years, Petty often donned a dress for his roles.
Sleeping Beauty is Perfect Family Fun.
Where else can you see top talent like A.J. Bridel, who just delivered a show-stopping performance in “Kinky Boots,” cut loose in a theatre where the actors encourage the kids, and you, to yell at them with clever comebacks?
Even my 10 year old boy, who secretly watches “The Next Step” on The Family Channel, is enthralled by the opportunity to see “The Next Step’s” Alexandra Beaton and Taveeta Szymanowicz, who are in the cast.
Listen to the podcast:
Starring A. J. Bridle, Eddie Glen and Hilary Farr.
Nov. 25 – Jan. 7
The Elgin Theatre 189 Yonge St. Toronto
Tickest start at $27