With a new Christmas musical, a show that puts you on stage and the city's first national ballet tour, nothing can contain Edmonton's upcoming theatre season
By Cory Schachtel | October 6, 2022
Ballet Edmonton’s fall season will be as stunning as ever, with Remeo — featuring The Rite, choreographed by Shay Kuebler, and Swan, by Artistic Director Wen Wei Wang — but the story of the season comes in the new year, when the company will launch Edmonton’s first national ballet tour.
“In January, March and April, we will tour six cities across Canada,” says Wang. “Of course, we have our October show, with Shay, who grew up in Edmonton, and our February show will feature two works from European choreographers (Zurich-based creator Ihsan Rustem and Montreal-born Dorotea Saykaly). But our national tour, you know, for any arts organization, you want to have reach out as much as you can, you want to tour as much as you can. And in the Canadian dance scene, to be able to perform on the big stage, particularly going to National Arts Centre (in Ottawa), is huge. It’s a chance to put our name on the national stage, and the dancers are very excited. It’s a huge breakout, something that goes beyond what we never have done before.”
The Citadel Theatre season has already started, with the highly technical Network closing October 9. And Artistic Director Daryl Cloran is looking forward Prison Dance (May 2023), based on one of the first viral videos of 1,500 Philippine prison inmates dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
But for many Edmontonians, the Citadel is about Christmas, and this Christmas is extra special. “We commissioned a musical a few years ago and we’ve been developing it over the last few years, which is based on Hawksley Workman’s Christmas album, Almost a Full Moon,” Cloran says. “So we’ve been working with Hawksley and a playwright named Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman, and we built this musical that includes all of the songs from his album that inspires these intertwining Christmas stories. We did some workshops of it here and at the Canadian Music Theatre Project at Sheridan College in Toronto, and it’s turned into a really beautiful musical.”
Which is your go-to Christmas movie?
12%Miracle on 34th Street
24%A Nightmare Before Christmas
0%Jingle All the Way
And of course, those looking for the most classic of Christmas shows won’t be disappointed. “It’s Christmas Carol all the time,” says Cloran. “We’ve been doing it for over 25 years now and we have the new adaptation that we started right before COVID. And we have John Elliot, who’s done many shows here, as our new Scrooge.”
When Joel Ivany became the Edmonton Opera’s new artistic director earlier this year, he made his mandate clear: to make opera more accessible and bring more people to its stage. Turns out he meant that literally.
“In March, we’re inviting the audience on stage with the singers at the Jubilee for Stabat Mater,” Ivany explains. “We’ll guide them from their usual experience in the front of the lobby, then we take them backstage, and then we bring them on stage for a small, intimate orchestra and a small intimate performance. It’s in several parts, but they don’t sit in the main seats of the Jubilee, so it’s physically going to be a different experience than what people have experienced in the past, and we’ll let the music and each space influence the performance.” (Orphée will also feature a different physical experience, at least for the aerialist who will climb up silks and sing opera from the rafters.)
But you don’t even have to enter the theatre to enjoy great opera singers. “We’ve also started Opera Pub, once a month at Blue Chair. It’s the fourth Wednesday of every month, where if you go to Blue Chair, you can just hear free opera music, and have it presented and explained in a very unpretentious way.”