With YES Theatre/STC currently in the middle of its run of its last show of the year — the holiday production “Elf: The Musical” — the local theatre group announced its lineup for the year 2023 at a launch event Nov. 28.
The two theatre companies legally remain separate entities, but they’re working together to put on joint shows in 2022 and 2023 out of the STC building as they explore a merger.
The 2023 season announced this week features a mix of musicals, which have been a mainstay for YES Theatre, as well as more classical theatre and local works.
The tagline for the season is “Life is with People,” with the companies explaining that the works that will be presented “all explore themes of community, of togetherness and more specifically the resilience of the human spirit.”
Alessandro Costantini, artistic and managing director for YES Theatre/STC, said programming the 2023 season was a real balancing act, between bringing in works that attract audiences and ensure financial stability, while also presenting challenging material.
For Costantini, who founded YES Theatre more than a decade ago as a teen, this is his first time programming a whole year of theatre for the community — he’s only ever done a summer.
He said he spent a lot of time looking at the “entire ecosystem of theatre” not just here in Greater Sudbury, but globally, while taking into consideration the needs of local audiences and artists.
“I feel that these pieces are kind of the perfect vehicles for achieving all of those things at once, right?” Costantini said. “They are intellectually driven, they are complex, they are very exciting. They engage a large body of artists, they're renowned.”
The season starts with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat: In Concert,” which will run Feb. 15-18, 2023 at Glad Tidings Church.
Following Joseph, the companies will take you behind the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons with “Jersey Boys,” running at the STC July 7 to Aug. 5, 2023.
Later in the summer, the theatre group’s new Refettorio outdoor theatre will open downtown with Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet.”
YES will also give audiences an up close and personal look at the Queen of Country Pop Music with original concert, “Forever and For Always: The Music of Shania Twain.”
“Romeo & Juliet” and the Shania concert will run in repertoire at the Refettorio on Aug. 8 to Sept. 2.
Between Oct. 20 and Nov. 5, 2023, the STC will house the “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime,” winner of a Tony and Olivier award for Best Play.
The grand finale of the season will be “Matilda: the Musical”, a multi-award winning show from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the beloved book by Roald Dahl. Matilda will run Nov. 24 to Dec. 17, 2023.
YES Theatre/STC also announced a host of ancillary programming, including workshops of new Canadian musicals “Renewal” and “Way Out There.”
The companies will also partner with Pat the Dog to produce three staged readings of new plays. These titles include “Calling the Rock Home” by Karen Thistle, “Fuil” by Garrett M. Ryan, and “You Paid for It — They’ll Pay for It” by Andrew Paulson. STC will also be hosting the 2023 PlaySmelter Festival, produced by Pat The Dog.
Those paying the Sudbury Theatre Centre space a visit for the first time in recent years will also notice it has received a glow-up, with new paint and wallpaper, and work on the floors in the lobby and lounge areas.
Costantini said a lot of cleaning out and purging has been happening as well.
Asked how the merger talks between YES Theatre and STC are going, Costantini said they’re “moving forward quite quickly.”
He said it’s hoped that the merger will be formalized in the summer or fall of 2023.
Asked if the merged theatre company will be renamed, Costantini quipped that many people have been calling it “YES-TC,” a combination of YES Theatre and STC.
“But we’ll see how it’s going to evolve,” he said, while adding that the theatre building will continue to be named ‘Sudbury Theatre Centre’;.
Addressing some of the anxieties surrounding the merger, Costantini admits the discourse that took place in the community earlier this year “was difficult for me to navigate.”
But he also points to a recent day when more than 500 people were in the STC building, between Sudbury Symphony Orchestra doing a dress rehearsal, a Saturday morning kids’ class, a workshop of a new Canadian musical and the production team preparing for Elf rehearsals and set pieces being built in the workshop.
“I think the reason why I could stand here today, feeling so proud, is because we have achieved what we set out to do, right?” he said.
“This space is vibrant, the shows are selling out, there is a really active presence here in this building again. So you know, the proof is in the pudding, right? We've spent almost half-a-million dollars on the artists in the last four productions. So it just feels really good. It feels really good to be sitting here and to be heading into this new season.”
The run of YES Theatre/STC’s “Elf: The Musical” has been extended another week to Dec. 23. You can purchase tickets online here.
Tickets for all the 2022/23 shows are available at sudburytheatre.com or by contacting or visiting the Sudbury Theatre Centre Box Office. Patrons can save 20 per cent on all six 2023 mainstage shows by purchasing a 2023 season pass.
Heidi Ulrichsen is Sudbury.com’s associate content editor. She also covers education and the arts scene.