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Dennis Garnhum launches a new play development program

The Grand Theatre in London announced one of its most ambitions programs in years.

It was a packed house at the event and Executive Director, Deb Harvey led off the announcement by saying she’s never been more excited to work at The Grand.


Deb Harvey, Executive Director The Grand Theatre

Artistic director Dennis Garnhum has created a new play development program called COMPASS. Garnhum proudly presented five titles in the program, adding “in order to be a relevant theatre company, we must develop and premiere our stories on our stages.”


Dennis Garnhum, Artistic Director

With a total of $100,000 in financial support from Tourism London and Carlyle Peterson Lawyers LLP, the commissioning and development phase of the COMPASS program is underway. The cost estimated for producing the new works amount to roughly five million over five years.


Sue Carlyle, Carlyle Peterson Lawyers LLP


The plays include:

Written by Trina Davies
Directed by Peter Hinton

Scheduled to premiere in January of 2018, this play is being dedicated to the memory of Iris Turcott.

Born in London, Turcott is widely regarded as a champion of news plays. She worked closely with many artists in Canada’s theatre community, always pushing them to go deep and discover the heart of their stories.

Trina Davies is based in Vancouver, BC. Her play “The Romeo Initiative” was a finalist for Canada’s top literary prize the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama 2012.

Peter Hinton is one of Canada’s most celebrated artists. As director, dramaturg and playwright his work challenges conventions and opens audiences’ minds to new possibilities. He has been the Associate Artistic Director at Theatre Passe Muraille and the Canadian Stage Company in Toronto and Artistic Associate of the Stratford Festival.

“Guy Lombardo’s New Year’s Eve”
Orchestrations and Original Music by Dave Pierce
Book and Direction by Dennis Garnhum

Scheduled to open in spring of 2019 “Guy Lombardo’s New Year’s Eve” tells the story of the London born musical innovator who recorded his first song in 1924 and sold 300 million recordings.

Lombardo was the man behind radio’s first nationwide New Year’s Eve broadcast, featuring Lombardo’s orchestra playing at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. The radio broadcast would eventually move to television, setting the precedent for a New Year’s Eve tradition that endures to this day.

Dave Pierce is an Emmy-award winning music director and composer. He’s orchestrated music for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Concert Tour and “Jesus Christ Superstar Gospel,” and has worked with legendary entertainment producers to develop a wide variety of projects including The Calgary Stampede’s Evening Grandstand Show and Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular.

Dennis Garnhum is the new Artistic Director at The Grand Theatre. During his tenure as Artistic Director of Theatre Calgary, Garnhum directed 20 productions, including the world premieres of “Beyond Eden,” Timothy Findley’s “The Wars” and “Lost – A Memoir.” His co-adaptation (with author Cathy Ostlere) of “Lost – A Memoir” was nominated for a 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award.

Dave Pierce was joined by Adam James to perform some of Lombardo’s signature songs including “Auld Lang Syne.”

Starlight Tours”
Music & lyrics by Leslie Arden
Book by Cathy Elliott


Leslie Arden

“Starlight Tours” is based on factual events reported in Saskatchewan in the early 2000’s that trace back as far as the 1970s.

A series of inquiries and media investigations would reveal a practice by Saskatoon police of picking up First Nations people, driving them outside the city, and abandoning them the dead of winter at the side of the road.

This musical explores the clash of cultures, while celebrating the strength and resilience of two young woman, one Creek, one white, who are able to find hope in a way forward.

This production is being workshop and developed in collaboration with Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Project. The CMTP is best known for producing the hit musical “Come From Away.”

Carlyle Peterson Lawyers LLP sponsored the development of “Starlight Tours.”

“Ambrose Small”
Writer to be announces
Directed by Dennis Garnhum

Ambrose Small, a Canadian theatre tycoon and self-made millionaire, built London’s Grand Theatre in 1901 and owned seven theatres across Ontario.

On December 2, 1919 at the age of 56, he sold all of his properties and vanished, never to be found. Set against the vibrant and wildly scandalous vaudeville era, Ambrose Small will invite audiences to explore The Grand Theatre as an interactive, site-specific musical adventure.

“London Bridges”

London Bridges is a comedy in two acts: Act One in London, England, Act Two in London, Ontario, each written by a native of that region. The play tells the story of two worlds colliding.

The Grand Theatre will issue a public submission of interest/proposals for these two commissions – one from Canada and one from England.

For more information visit The Grand Theatre

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Dennis Garnhum launches a new play development program

Keith Tomasek
15 November 2016
News and Rumors

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