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5 Questions with Danielle Wade from Chris Mrs. – A New Holiday Musical

By Keith Tomasek, Dec. 7, 2023

The show everyone’s talking about this Christmas season is “Chris, Mrs. – A New Holiday Musical.”  The world premiere, starring Danielle Wade, is on stage now at the Winter Garden Theatre.

Danielle Wade, who appeared in “Mean Girls” on Broadway, is a familiar name to theatre fans in Southwestern Ontario.

Raised in LaSalle, Ontario, the talented triple threat went from Sandwich Secondary School and the University of Windsor to Drayton Entertainment’s stages and the world-renowned Stratford Festival before making her Broadway debut.

Danielle Wade in Chris, Mrs. at the Winter Garden Theatre. Photo Max Power

Currently, Wade is on stage at Toronto’s Winter Garden Theatre in “Chris, Mrs. – A New Holiday Musical.” The world premiere of this family-friendly show combines the romantic comedy elements of a Hallmark movie with the thrilling spectacle of musical theatre.

“Chris, Mrs. – A New Holiday Musical” was first presented in December 2022 as a workshop in Stratford. The sold-out event inspired all involved to take the show to the next level.

Following the workshop, producers Katie Kerr and Matt Stodolak assembled a team of the country’s brightest talent. The cast of 17 Canadian actors features Broadway, Stratford and Shaw Festival veterans, including AJ Bridel, Liam Tobin, Henry Firmston and Jason Sermonia.


Danielle Wade, Liam Tobin. Photo Max Power

Cory Sincennes designed the gorgeous sets and costumes. Before studying theatre at Ryerson and the University of Alberta, Sincennes earned a degree from Carleton University’s renowned architectural studies program.

Danielle Wade and company. Photo Max Power

Incidentally, if you visit Toronto to see the show, the Hilton Hotel is a short walk from the theatre. Their Summerhill Suite on the Signature floor has been redesigned with a new look, inspired by “Chris, Mrs. – A New Holiday Musical.” I’ve stayed at the Hilton many times; it has an intimate vibe with personalized service, unlike many larger hotels in town.

The hotel is offering an exclusive package for two, which comes with a one-night stay in the themed suite. Guests will also receive two tickets to “Chris, Mrs. – A New Holiday Musical” and exclusive access to the Executive Lounge, offering a complimentary hot breakfast, evening snacks, and a panoramic view of Toronto. You can book the package for a night on the following dates in December: 9-10, 12-17, 19-24, and 27-31. Call 1 416-869-3456 or book online.

Five Questions with Danielle Wade from Chris Mrs. – A New Holiday Musical.

1) Earlier this year, your romance with Will Branner became a marriage. “Chris Mrs. – A New Holiday Musical” is a romantic comedy in the tradition of a Hallmark movie. Every romantic comedy has a meet-cute scene where the two people who become a romantic couple meet for the first time, typically under unusual or humorous circumstances.

Tell me about the meet-cute moment when you met Will.

We joke that we met twice. First, when we were in school: I was singing at a concert, and he was there to watch some friends. He bought me a drink and I didn’t see him again for five years.

I was doing a show with his roommate and came over to visit. When Will found out I was on my way, he quickly said, “Danielle…Wade… She’s going to be HERE?!”

He cleaned his room, showered and acted painfully cool when I arrived.

We ended up spending the next two weeks together before I had to head to Stratford to do “The Music Man.” Truly, we fell in love throughout my time there. Wandering around the lake, shopping downtown – it’s not a bad place to get to know the love of your life.

2) You dropped out of your studies at the University of Windsor after you won the television series, “Over the Rainbow” and went on to originate the role of Dorothy Gale in the Andrew Lloyd Webber production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

What are one or two things you learned while pursuing your BFA in musical theatre that helped drive your success?

I very quickly learned that everything that makes you you is what makes you stand out. I think we get it into our heads that we need to fit and shift into a mould when in fact it is the exact opposite. Embrace how cool, weird, short or funny you are and just run with it.

3) You performed in many productions for Drayton Entertainment, including “Anne of Green Gables,” “Mamma Mia,” “Footloose,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Which role was most challenging and why?

I loved playing Anne. It seems like a true Canadian leading lady’s right of passage to play her. I’m so grateful for the lessons I learned from a little Orphaned Red Head who was unapologetically herself at all costs. It was hard to find such abandon initially. It’s not often you just get to throw yourself head first into the childlike sense of wonder. What a fascinating place to live.

Danielle Wade, Daren A. Herbert in The Music Man. Photo Cylla von Tiedemann.

4) In 2018, you starred in the Stratford production of “The Music Man.” It was one of Donna Feore’s most critically acclaimed productions.

Writing in the Globe and Mail, Kelly Nestruck said:
“The strongest aspect of Feore’s production is Danielle Wade’s performance as Marian Paroo, the librarian… She’s equal parts fierce and sweet.”

You reunited this summer in Feore’s production of “Summer Stock” at Goodspeed Musicals, the legendary organization that has sent 21 productions to Broadway.

What would you say is Donna Feore’s secret superpower?

Donna is so giving. She throws herself into the deep end with you without a second thought. She can see the truth and the heart of a piece so clearly. It’s always story first. Then some really impressive choreography. She really is a genius. I feel very lucky to have learned so much from her.

4) Soon after “The Music Man,” you made your Broadway debut in “Mean Girls.” That production received 12 Tony nominations and won the Audience Choice Award for Favourite New Musical.

“Mean Girls” is hilarious. Who are some of your comedic inspirations?

Jen Simard who played the Adult Woman in the show taught me more than I could ever say about the science of comedy. The timing, the gestures, the stillness. It’s all a formula and she is one of the best chemists I’ve ever seen.

Either / Or

From each pair below pick one and briefly explain why:

Lacey Chabert Read or Bethany Joy Lenz?
Ahhhh! How do you pick? I think Bethany. She’s always painfully charming and relatable.

“All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey or “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee?
Mariah. I simply can’t hit December 1st on the calendar and not hear “it’s timeeee” in my head.

Candy Canes or Gingerbread Men?
Gingerbread men. Unpopular opinion – candy canes are overrated.

Chris Mrs. – A New Holiday Musical
On now through Dec. 31
The Winter Garden Theatre
189 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M5B 1M4
Details, Tickets and more:

Book, Lyrics and Music: Katie Kerr and Matt Stodolak
Choreography: Sarah Vance
Set and Costume Design: Cory Sincennes
Stage Management: Jessica Severin
Assistant Stage Management: Koh Lauren Quan & Madison Kalbhenn
Lighting Design: Mikael Kangas
Sound Design: Ranil Sonnadara

Rocky Horror show, Donna feore podcast, stratford festival, alexis gordon, sean arbuckle

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5 Questions with Danielle Wade from Chris Mrs. – A New Holiday Musical

Keith Tomasek
7 December 2023
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