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New artistic director: STC has 'good chance of turning this completely around'

John McHenry takes the reins during a challenging time at STC
John McHenry takes over as Sudbury Theatre Centre's new artistic director Jan. 1. (Matt Durnan/

John McHenry isn't exactly taking the reins as artistic director at Sudbury Theatre Centre at an easy time.

STC has struggled recently with well-publicized financial problems. Last spring, Scott Florence, STC's former general manager, and Caleb Marshall, its former artistic director, announced they were leaving the company.

McHenry, who starts his new job Jan. 1, in the middle of STC's current season, said he looks forward to helping the theatre company “get out of the mess they're in.”

“I did know about the financial difficulties coming, and I still said yes,” he said.

“I think we have a good chance of turning this completely around, and really bringing the good values back to STC. We'll do some good shows next year, and get people back into the theatre and animated again.”

McHenry said he wants to brings some of the “hot shows” playing across the country to STC next season. 

Once he's got a season or two under his belt, and there's some money flowing into the coffers again, he'd like to do something that's his real passion — putting on a classic musical.

McHenry is originally from England, but came to Canada 40 years ago. He still speaks with a British accent. His new job at STC is something of a homecoming.

“I have great feelings for STC,” McHenry said.

He was working in St. Catharines in 1986 when he was invited by former STC artistic director Tony Lloyd to take part in the musical “Showboat” as a dancer.

He appeared in several more STC musicals, and became the theatre's director of marketing in 1989. “That changed my career path, and I've been doing it ever since,” McHenry said.

A press release from STC said McHenry has worked at theatres across the country as a marketer and publicist: Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend,

Hamilton’s Theatre Aquarius, the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company, Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver, and most recently, the Blyth Festival. 

While in Hamilton he was also president of the Hamilton Fringe Festival board of directors.

McHenry hasn't officially jumped into his new role at STC yet, but he's already in town, directing the theatre centre's holiday show, “A Christmas Story,” Philip Grecian’s stage adaptation of the 1983 classic movie.

In case you'd like to buy tickets, the production runs Dec. 7-23.

He's also meeting with STC patrons at an invitation-only event on Thursday, Nov. 23. McHenry said he “can't wait.”

“They'll all have opinions, and that's great,” he said. “I can take it in, listen to everybody.”

Sudbury Theatre Centre board chair Gerry Copeman said in a press release the theatre centre is “thrilled” to have McHenry joining the company.

“His return to Sudbury is inspiring and a true testament of STC’s role in professional theatre in the north,” Copeman said.

“His talent is a welcome addition to our team, and we look forward to continue entertaining Sudbury in the years to come.”


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Heidi Ulrichsen

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