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Cabaret fundraiser aims to defray $85K STC repair bill

YES Theatre/STC artistic director says repairs to the theatre centre's fly line system come with hefty pricetag
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A fundraiser called “An Evening with Britta Johnson” takes place at STC starting at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2. The cabaret evening features the music of Canadian theatre composer Britta Johnson, who is also an actor and currently starring as Cinderella's Prince in “Into the Woods,” a production for which she’s also the associate director. 

As YES Theatre/STC continues its run of the musical “Into the Woods,” you can also check out a couple of bonus events at the theatre centre over the weekend.

Because this version of “Into the Woods” is set in the wake of a climate disaster, local climate change scientists and activists will take part in a panel discussion at the Sudbury Theatre Centre building prior to the Friday, Sept. 30 show. 

The free panel discussion, dubbed “Citizen Exchange,” starts at 6 p.m., with the show beginning at 7:30 p.m.

“This is a new initiative where we hold these pre-show chats with the intention to connect our audiences to the themes of the pieces that we're presenting in a way that is a little bit more thorough, if you will,” said Alessandro Costantini, artistic and managing director for YES Theatre/STC.

He said the Into the Woods Citizen Exchange brings together “a panel of scientists, activists, climate conscious people and artists” for a “lively informal chat”  about “what our responsibilities are, and how we can help.”

A fundraiser called “An Evening with Britta Johnson” also takes place at STC starting at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2.

The cabaret evening features the music of Canadian theatre composer Britta Johnson, who is also an actor and currently starring as Cinderella's Prince in the local production of “Into the Woods" (she's also the production's associate director). 

Tickets to the Britta Johnson cabaret are available at the door, with admission on a donate what you can afford basis.

Johnson’s most prominent work is “Life After,” which had a multiple Dora Award-winning run in Toronto, and then moved on to play two of the biggest theatres in the United States - The Old Globe in San Diego, and the Goodman in Chicago.

She is currently working on a musical version of “Jacob Too Too” for the Stratford Festival, based on the children’s books by Canadian author Mordecai Richler.

Sunday evening will feature a number of pieces from her musicals, some produced, some yet to be produced, performed by Johnson and members of the “Into the Woods” company. 

While Johnson - a native of Stratford, Ont. whose parents are pit musicians - doesn’t act often, she was encouraged to get back onto the stage by “Into the Woods” director Mitchell Cushman, who has also directed a couple of her own shows. 

She and Costantini also know each other peripherally through the Canadian theatre scene.

Johnson said she’s excited to be able to help out YES Theatre/STC.

“I mean it when I say I really believe in this theatre,” she said. “I've been so inspired by my time here and I think their mission is one I want to see in all Canadian theatres. I think they're really bold, and I think they're really engaged with their community.”

She said she’s a bit nervous about the cabaret, as she’ll be introducing many Sudburians to her work. “But we've just started preparing some of the music with the cast, and it sounds so good,” Johnson said.

Costantini said the money raised through the event will go toward repairs to the fly line system at STC, which has an $85,000 pricetag. The fly lines are used in theatre productions to move set pieces up and down on the stage. 

When YES Theatre took over operation of the STC building earlier this year as the two companies explored a merger, they realized the building had been neglected.

Renovations including upgrades to the lobby are planned, but the biggest issue has been the fly line system, which had not been serviced in over a decade, and can’t be safely used in its current condition.

Costantini said YES Theatre/STC is in the process of applying for grants to pay for the repairs. 

“We’re not going to raise $85,000 on Sunday, but if we raise a couple thousand, it'll certainly help,” he said.

Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.