Centaur Theatre unveils 50th Anniversary Season lineup

Flagship Montreal theatre company announces 2018-19 programming


Montreal, March 12, 2018 Centaur Theatre proudly announces an exciting season of hit plays, ancillary initiatives, and special celebratory events to mark its golden anniversary. From its 1968 birth in the heart of the city, Centaur has grown to become a beacon for outstanding professional English-language theatre that speaks to the universal spirit while reflecting the Canadian, and especially the Montreal perspective. This is the first season programmed by Centaur’s Artistic and Executive Director, Eda Holmes, and the stellar line-up reaffirms Centaur’s standing as THE urban English-language theatre in Quebec.

In addition to the ESSENTIAL SERIES—six diverse, contemporary plays from some of today’s most acclaimed and groundbreaking playwrights—Centaur will continue to support independent works through its PRESENTING SERIES, which includes Brave New Looks, Urban Tales, the Wildside Festival and the TD Children’s Series. The GUESTS OF CENTAUR SERIES introduces Centaur audiences to various artists contributing to Montreal’s vibrant cultural landscape, some familiar faces and a brand new allegiance. Lastly, for this milestone year only, Centaur celebrates the loyal followers that have supported the theatre for fifty years, with a LEGACY SERIES of special reading events that revisit some of Centaur’s most notable triumphs as well as giving  a peek at the future of Centaur.

“At its core, theatre is about exchange”, said Ms. Holmes.

It is the exchange of experience between the artists and the audience that is theatre’s essential ingredient. Centaur is a vital hub for audiences and artists of all ages, backgrounds, and interests to explore ideas, emotions and issues through stories told in myriad ways. Located at the core of the city’s beginnings in the former stock exchange, Centaur is literally rooted in exchange. As the stewards of Centaur’s next golden era, introducing live theatre to one generation after another, we take great pride and care as the curators of engaging, inspirational and intimate experiences that expand theatrical expectations and appreciation. Montreal is so distinct from any other Canadian city, and for the last five decades, Centaur has reflected the city’s dynamism and diversity brilliantly. This year especially we want to thank the audience – they are the constant element that has made Centaur the continuing success that it is. The heart of Montreal English-language theatre lives here and with the continued support and evolution of its audiences, Centaur will thrive for another fifty years.

Centaur is instituting a new programming model this year by adding one more preview performance to each of the six plays in the Essential Series, thereby pushing all of the opening nights to Friday instead of Thursday. The total run of each production will also be condensed into three, rather than four, weeks.


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ESSENTIAL SERIES

Centaur opens its ESSENTIAL SERIES with the rousing, glorious sounds of Gospel and R&B music in CHOIR BOY, written by the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Moonlight, Tarell Alvin McCraney. The Canadian premiere of this coming of age story set in an African-American boys school, plays from October 9 to 28, 2018. Mike Payette directs with musical direction by Floyd Ricketts, McGill University’s Schulich School of Music Chorus Conductor, and set and costumes designed by Rachel Forbes.

A mere two years after its West End triumph, and less than a year since it conquered NYC, THE CHILDREN makes its Canadian premiere at Centaur, as a Canadian Stage co-production, from November 6 to 25, 2018. The play, this year’s UK Writer’s Guild Award for Best Play, is written by Lucy Kirkwood, one of Britain’s hottest new playwrights, and asks what the current generation is willing to risk for the good of the next. Ms. Holmes directs, with sets and costumes by Eo Sharp and lighting by Bonnie Beecher.

Kick-starting the New Year with panache is Torquil Campbell, the popular front man for Stars, the Montreal-based indie rock band. He returns to his acting roots for the Quebec premiere of his spellbinding solo show, TRUE CRIME, The Castleton Massive production presented by Crow’s Theatre, a labyrinthine journey to the dark side when he decides to slip into the skin of the notorious con man, Christian Gerhartsreiter. Created by Torquil and Chris Abraham, in collaboration with Canadian singer-songwriter, Julian Brown, it runs from January 8 and 27, 2019.

Ms. Holmes will also direct the Stratford Festival hit and Governor General Award-nominated play, THE LAST WIFE, by Canadian playwright and Shaw Festival’s Associate Artistic Director, Kate Hennig. Montreal-born actor and Shaw veteran, Diana Donnelly, plays Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife who adeptly negotiated her rise through the halls of power. The 39 Steps design team of Michael Gianfrancesco (set and costumes) and Andrea Lundy (lighting) returns to animate this smart, sexy and political play on stage from Feb. 12 to March 3, 2019.

From March 19 to April 7, 2019, Morris Panych, one of Canada’s most prolific playwrights, famous for his biting satire and witty dialogue, takes a quirky look at the differences between the haves and have-nots in a world driven by corporate greed and profit in THE SHOPLIFTERS. After its 2014 world premiere in Washington, D.C., fittingly the capital of the world’s largest capitalist nation, Panych is creating a new version for Centaur. He is adapting two of the four English-speaking characters into Francophones, making THE SHOPLIFTERS as Montréalais as a two-cheek kiss. Mr. Panych directs the spot-on cast of Ellen David, Laurent McCuaig-PitreMarie-Ève Perron and Michel Perron .

Season 50 draws to an end with BLIND DATE from April 9 to 28, 2019. Actor, improvisor, director and creator, Rebecca Northan’s entirely improvised play, in which a charming clown chooses a different audience member every night to go on a date, is a heartwarming marvel that has been wowing audiences worldwide since its original 10-minute incarnation at the Harbourfront’s Spiegel Show in 2007. New to this Canadian success story are queer and French date nights.



LEGACY SERIES

The LEGACY SERIES celebrates 50 years of theatre by reliving a few of Centaur’s past glories with staged readings of selected audience favourites plus one new work to kick off the next 50 years.

Audiences will be ecstatic to learn that David Fennario’s seminal work, BALCONVILLE, opens the series with three readings from September 27 to 29, 2018. Bowser and Blue’s highly entertaining SCHWARTZ’S THE MUSICAL takes place December 13 through 15, 2018 with Canada’s best loved musical comedy duo performing the music. From May 9 to 11, 2019, once the season has ended, three readings of a brand new play by an emerging Montreal playwright, as yet not selected, will take place to usher in Centaur’s next era of outstanding theatre.

PRESENTING SERIES

Centaur is one of only a few Montreal venues that support independent theatre through the deliberate creation of various ancillary initiatives to showcase artists throughout the year.

The 2018 Brave New Looks selection, presented from November 15 to 25, is the re-mount of Montreal’s Julie Tamiko Manning and Ottawa’s Matt Miwa’s verbatim work, THE TASHME PROJECT: THE LIVING ARCHIVES. The play had its world premiere in Montreal at the MAI in 2015, winning the META for Outstanding New Text. Using hours of interviews conducted with 30 Nisei (second generation Japanese Canadians), whose families were sent to Tashme, a Japanese internment camp created in the over-zealous paranoid aftermath of Pearl Harbour, Matt and Julie give voice to a collection of eye-opening, engaging, and  occasionally humorous stories. Poetic, delicate, and moving, these long-buried memories inspire pride and admiration for Japanese Canadian elders nationwide.

From December 5 to 15, 2018, it’s the twelfth edition of the annual holiday story-telling custom, URBAN TALES, featuring unusual and decidedly un-traditional stories written and told by Montreal artists, curated and directed by the multi-talented, former Centaur playwright-in-residence, Harry Standjofski. This year’s theme is “The 12 Days of Christmas” and promises to be a special one in honour of the 50th anniversary. In collaboration with Théâtre Urbi et Orbi.

The WILDSIDE FESTIVAL Centaur’s hottest two weeks in winter, intentionally overlaps with True Crime when it runs from January 8 to 20, 2019. Heading into its twenty-second year, Wildside includes Centaur’s pick for Best of the Fringe Fest as well as new works by emerging and established artists from across Canada and beyond.

TD Bank and Centaur believe in fostering an appreciation of theatre in the next generation by presenting the TD SATURDAY MORNING CHILDREN’S SERIES, a string of single performances by some of Montreal’s finest theatre artists geared for children between the ages of four and twelve. It’s fun, affordable family entertainment designed to capture young imaginations and cultivate a love of the enchanting world of live performance.

GUESTS OF CENTAUR SERIES

From independent theatre to circus and beyond, Centaur is always finding new opportunities to bring other artists under its roof to offer Montrealers a wider range of new and thrilling cultural exchanges.

For the third time, Centaur partners with La Tohu this July to import one of the exhilarating shows in the wildly popular and quickly growing circus festival, Montréal Complètement Cirque.

CBC’s popular MASSEY LECTURES returns to Centaur September 19, 2018. Harvard experimental particle physicist, Melissa Franklin, will address the theme, “The Width of the World”, investigating the human drive to measure things. A renowned name in her field, the Canadian scientist born in Edmonton is also the daughter of literary agent, Elsa Franklin.

Imago Theatre and Black Theatre Workshop will each be presenting one of their upcoming season’s mainstage productions at Centaur in November 2018 and February 2019 respectively. Details will be announced once the theatre companies have officially revealed their seasons to the public.

A new partnership with Opéra de Montréal blooms in the spring with the presentation of the final production from their prominent training program, Atelier Lyrique, from March 23 to 31, 2019. TWENTY-SEVEN, as in 27 rue de Fleurus, is an irresistible recreation of the famous Parisian salons that Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas hosted. Their flat became a magnetic hub for the revolutionary artists of the day, from painters like Picasso and Matisse to writers such as Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Composed by Ricky Ian Gordon, with libretto by Royce Vavrek and direction by Oriol Tomas.



 SUBSCRIPTION INCENTIVES, OPTIONS & NEW OFFERS

Subscribers enjoy the many benefits of privilege: front of the line seat availability, the best prices for Centaur’s season and discounts on the Presenting and Guests of Centaur Series, flexibility and convenience with unlimited free ticket exchanges up to 2 hours before a performance, and the much-sought-after subscriber perk card with discounts at other Montreal cultural events and local eateries.

The Early Bird deadline to subscribe is May 11th. Early birds are automatically entered into a draw for prizes that include dinner for two at the elegant Bonaparte Restaurant, tickets to the Montréal Complètement Cirque Festival, or a one-night boutique hotel getaway in old-world surroundings at Hotel Bonaparte. (The draw will be held May 12th.) Additionally, the first 100 subscribers will receive a free ticket to the Legacy Series play reading of their choice.

Those wanting to renew, become a returning subscriber, or subscribe for the first time can take advantage of a special golden opportunity. Before June 30th, the cost of a 4, 5, or 6-play subscription package is frozen at this year’s prices, representing a savings of up to 30% off regular ticket prices. Subscriptions bought July 1st and after will appreciate savings of up to 25%.

New this year is an amazing offer for prospective subscribers under 30 years of age. See all six plays in the Essential Series for the newly reduced price of only $150, plus one Bring-a-Friend Pass. Also new is a student discount card, designed to suit the spontaneity and budget of the student lifestyle and replacing the student subscription option. Details on the Student Card will be revealed in the Fall.

Single tickets will go on sale as of July 1, 2018


Full details are available through Centaur’s box office at 514-288-3161 or online at www.centaurtheatre.com.