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New season announced at The Gladstone

By Greggory Clark on May 10, 2017



The indie theatre hub’s next season opens with three musicals before hitting The Wall.

That’d be Building The Wall… a timely, politically charged drama by Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan. It’s a terrifying and gripping play set in 2019, after the Trump administration has carried out its campaign promise to round up and detain millions of illegal immigrants.

The new play is in high demand, as evidenced by an Off-Broadway premiere in New York City this month. The Canadian premiere opens at The Gladstone on November 30, starring Brad Long and Cassandre Mentor directed by Sean Devine.

A shot from the Los Angeles production of Building The Wall. Photo courtesy of The Fountain Theatre.

A shot from the Los Angeles production of Building The Wall. Photo courtesy of The Fountain Theatre.

Another show from Off-Broadway will get its Ottawa premiere in the new year. Grounded by George Brant was a hit for Anne Hathaway in 2015. Ottawa’s Bear & Co. will produce a two week run at The Gladstone. Directed by Eleanor Crowder and performed by Alexis Scott. Opening on January 17, 2018.

There’s no theme to The Gladstone’s programming. And for that matter, there’s no use pretending any theatre season actually has one. This lineup can jump from new productions of A Christmas Carol and Othello and then somehow to Snake Oil – a dark comedy from celebrated Canadian playwright Jayson McDonald.

McDonald is a creator and performer whose work has earned him countless awards and 5-star reviews on the Fringe Circuit. His last show in town was Magic Unicorn Island, a critically-acclaimed smash hit at the 2016 Ottawa Fringe Festival. “Magic Unicorn Island sold out again,” wrote apt613 reviewer David Currie, “and anyone who sees it can understand why.”

Snake-Oil-Alt-296x197It is unclear if McDonald himself will reprise the part of salesman Sam Saginaw in Black Sheep Theatre’s production of Snake Oil. A show listing on The Gladstone’s website has McDonald billed as the playwright and Dave Dawson as director. No performer is named, however, pictured in a promotional image appears to be (the fantastically funny) Ottawa actor Zach Counsil.

“In short, The Gladstone is the busiest theatre in Ottawa…”

A 12-show season produced by professional companies – some guests and some resident companies at The Gladstone – accounts for only half of what will be at the 230-seat venue.

All in all, The Gladstone will present a season of 12 shows, plus another nine – four more plays will pop up for short weekend runs, plus five plays brought by local community theatre companies ToToToo and Phoenix Players.

“In short,” says Theatre Manager AL Connors, “The Gladstone is the busiest Theatre in Ottawa – and possibly Canada, but who wants to do all that research.”

AL Connors is The Gladstone's new theatre manager. Photo by Andrew Alexander.

AL Connors is The Gladstone’s new theatre manager. Photo by Andrew Alexander.

“Working on the facility is like trying to change the tires on a moving car.”

During the run of a show, many theatres go “dark” on Sunday nights, Mondays and Tuesdays. That’s to say… venues lock their doors and turn out the lights. However, according to Connors, there is less down time at The Gladstone than anywhere else.

“The other weekend, there was a band in on Sunday night when Little Shop of Horrors was dark. Last month, Creative Mornings booked the place for a Friday morning, then Outside Mullingar picked up again that evening. Working on the facility is like trying to change the tires on a moving car. It’s very exciting but a real challenge.”

More highlights from the newly announced season:

  • No Way To Say Goodbye: Songs of Leonard Cohen is an ensemble creation by Bear & Co., the producers of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris last year. October 26 to November 4, 2017.
  • Voices From The Front: The Radio Show by Teri Loretto-Valentik is a verbatim performance of testimonials, letters, and radio broadcasts made by Canadians during the two world wars. Interspersed with songs from the eras, performed live by the show’s cast. November 8–11, 2017.
  • Blink is a quirky comedy which went to the Edinburgh Fringe and toured broadly – including a French-language production in Montreal this past winter. The English-language Canadian premiere of Blink is happening at The Gladstone next spring. Featuring Kate Smith and David Whiteley directed by Teri Loretto-Valentik. April 5–14, 2018.

For a full list of shows in The Gladstone’s 2017–18 season, visit

The Gladstone (910 Gladstone Ave) has been a theatre venue since 1982, when the building was renovated and repurposed for the Great Canadian Theatre Company. Since GCTC moved out in 2007, The Gladstone has been home to independent companies and is a hub for indie theatre in Ottawa. A season subscription (12 shows) costs $216–360 and an 8-show package costs $152–254. Single tickets cost $20–36. Visit for box office info.