Theatre De La Salle

NO WONDER THAT IT’S MARY THAT WE LOVE!

 

The reviews keep coming in! 
Theatre De La Salle’s MARY POPPINS was PRACTICALLY PERFECT! 

“The universal feedback was this show was TREMENDOUS! Congratulations to Cast and Crew! An awesome job!” writes show sponsor Mr. Andrew Heal of Heal & Co. Construction Lawyers. 

“From the opening scene to the grand finale, it was truly an amazing production,” writes another sponsor, Mr Ron Cheng of Big Sky Brands. “The quality of your show was beyond our wildest expectations for a high school musical. It felt more like a professional theatre production. We appreciate all the effort and time you put into making such an amazing show."

Brother Domenic expressed his appreciation in a formal letter to the cast and crew: “Thank you for having participated in this important school activity. To produce something of this quality takes lots of work and dedication. It also takes courage to stand before your parents, teachers, and peers in this way.  Congratulations on an excellent performance.”

We welcomed close to 2000 guests over the four show days and the feedback has been overwhelmingly supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

“We were so impressed by the scale and excellent quality of your production,” writes parent Mr. Michael Henry. “There was such a large and talented cast which you and your team trained, marshalled and motivated. I am sure it will be an unforgettably enriching experience for so many students. It was our first time seeing a Del musical and we look forward to seeing more of them in future.”

“I just wanted to congratulate you on a brilliantly magical MARY POPPINS. All your hard work and dedication came through. I saw the show on Saturday night and, to tell you the truth, I didn’t want it to end. It was that entertaining! ~ Adriana D’Onofrio, parent 

“I must say, you have done a phenomenal job organizing and premiering this delightful play! It really did have the Broadway feel to it, which is quite commendable with such young actors and actresses.” ~ Paul Trinca, Grade 9 student 

“Once again, congratulations on another amazing performance! The way you were able to capture the magic of Mary Poppins was really special.” ~ Samantha Williams, teacher 

“A huge thank you for creating such an incredible performance. Each year, you somehow manage to outdo yourself. Wow! What a top class theatre experience for the cast and the audience. We were all enthralled…some of our guests have already put next year’s performance in their calendars.” ~ Diane Wysocki, parent 

“My family & I (13 in total) were absolutely blown away by the production. The singing, dancing and set design were absolutely exceptional. The show far surpassed our expectations of a high school production, and quite frankly was a very professional performance. Many thanks for the countless hours you devoted to the production. ~ Elizabeth Walford, parent 

“I wanted to sincerely thank you again for the backstage tour your gave my family and for the opportunity to meet you and members of the cast and crew! It was an incredibly lovely, heartfelt production in every respect, filled with truly talented people. We enjoyed it so very much. Well done!” ~  Nina Rocco, parent of prospective students 

“With every job when it's complete.        
There is a sense of bitter-sweet                
That moment when you know the task is done...”

Mary Poppins arrived to make order from disorder, to create unity from disunity. Once she had done so, Mary could leave for a secret place in the heavens. She, quite literally, pops in and pops out of people’s lives and makes them better, or at least more bearable. 

Mary first popped into my life when I was 10 years old. Mary Poppins was the first film I saw in a movie theatre as a child. It remains one of my greatest childhood memories and one that opened up my eyes and nourished my imagination. The iconic “Feed the Birds” was Disney’s favourite song and remains my favourite melody from the show. It symbolizes a wealth of emotions - charity, love, human kindness, and compassion.

And so did this year’s production, because it’s been an emotional ride for all of us. Several cast members made their stage debut this year, while our Grade 12 cast mates took their final bows. 

This year’s production brought together our largest cast to date. 100 talented students with diverse personalities and multiple commitments could, at times, be difficult to manage. It wasn’t always a jolly holiday for us. Some cast members required a regular dose of brimstone and treacle to keep them on task during rehearsals. Others only needed that spoonful of sugar to bring out their very best. 

The four performances were the result of a seven month commitment made by our cast members who had to balance a rigorous academic workload with extracurricular commitments, family responsibilities, and active social lives.  

My heartfelt thanks to Mr. Cherny and Mrs. Pollock for sharing their creative vision and directorial leadership; to TheatreDLS alum Johnny McGroarty (Class of ‘13) for taking a step back in time to join us on this magical journey and sharing his wit and whimsy;

to Mr. Michael Bailey, Jerry and Marlene McGroarty, Chris Tsujiuchi, and Melissa-Jane Shaw for their endless creativity and for resisting the temptation to tell me to “go fly a kite” anytime I put in my tuppence-worth of ideas; to my Grade 10, 11, and 12 Drama students for the creative contributions you all get to see and for the many laughs you didn’t get to hear; to the Administration, staff, and faculty of the College for their patience and support, to the parents of our cast members for “playing the game” with us; To our supercalifragilistic sponsors, advertisers, and donors, and to our audiences for the hearty “chim-chim-chiree” they gave us at every performance. 

On behalf of Mr. Cherny, Mrs. Pollock, and Johnny McGroarty, I extend my congratulations and appreciation to the entire cast, Stage Management team, and crew on four practically perfect performances. I am so incredibly proud of each one of them for dedicating their time and talent to this production and to one another. It wasn’t always easy, but it was all worth it. They proved that anything really can happen if you let it!

Mr. Luchka


A Short History of Dramas and Musicals at De La Salle College

Brother Gabriel became well known for his dramatic productions, which were originally staged at Massey Hall. Born Peter Ray in Waterdown, Ontario in 1893, he entered the Brothers’ Juniorate at De La Salle Duke Street in 1909. Four years later he divided his Novitiate between Montreal and the newly reopened District of Toronto. Except for four years, Brother Gabriel was on the staff of De La Salle Bond Street from its opening in 1914 until 1932. He published three short volumes on Shakespearean characters and was well-known for the following productions which were staged at Massey Hall:

  • 1922 Shattered Dreams - written by Brother Gabriel
  • 1923 Hamlet
  • 1924 Merchant of Venice
  • 1925 Macbeth - with 4,500 people in attendance
  • 1926 Passion Play

Brother Gabriel lived at “Oaklands” throughout his retirement years and died at St. Michael’s Hospital in 1981.

The "Oaklands" Auditorium

It was to Brother Gabriel’s credit that the new school on the current campus opened in 1950 with its own auditorium. At his insistence, the new school building was to have an auditorium separate from a gymnasium and that it be a specific size. This is why the auditorium extends beyond the rest of the building.

The home of what was later to be known was Theatre De La Salle had a sloping floor, an orchestra pit, a large marble foyer, and a balcony.

The official opening of the auditorium was a formal occasion with dignitaries on hand as well as a ribbon-cutting ceremony to separate the curtains which were a gift of the class of 1920.

Brother Gabriel directed the first two dramatic productions Cinderella O’Reilly (1951) and Dear Ruth (1952).

Brother Andrew spent his first year at Del (1950-1951) developing a glee club and an orchestra before staging the first of his five annual Gilbert and Sullivan musical productions. The female chorus was made up of soprano-voiced boys from the grade school dressed up as girls. The female leads were played by young ladies from local Catholic high schools. By 1954, Brother Andrew had built the student orchestra to 34 members.

Brother Walter replaced Brother Andrew as musical director, and in 1958 produced the first of his ten musicals. The popular scores of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein counted for eight well-received productions. In 1960, the Toronto Star reviewed Oklahoma with these words:

The hardest thing to keep in mind is that it is a high school show.
The quality is consistently far beyond what might be expected;
better, in fact, than any university musical.


The Toronto Telegram reported:

There was a spontaneous joie de vivre...that gave the show a
refreshing quality sometimes missing from a seasoned
professional performance.

By 1961, boys no longer took female parts as 35 young women took their place with 41 boys from Del to make up the cast of Carousel. That year, the leads accompanied Brother Walter to the backstage of the O’Keefe Centre (now the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts) to meet the composer, Richard Rodgers, who was in Toronto on a promotional tour.

Following the departure of Brother Walter, Del began a 19-year period (1969-1987) in which not only a musical, but also a drama was staged almost every year. The success over so many years of top-rated productions is certainly due to the dedicated directors of musical and dramatic productions, choreographers, set designers, and costume and make-up artists who volunteered countless hours of their time and shared their passion for the performing arts with the boys and girls who took to the stage.

During the 1980’s and early 1990’s, Theatre De La Salle thrived under the direction of Ben Cekuta. Memorable productions of West Side Story (1980), Jesus Christ Superstar (1983) and Man of La Mancha (1985) cemented Del productions among Toronto’s finest. The school flood of 1989 damaged the auditorium so badly that the theatre was closed for three years. It wasn’t until 1993 that the theatre reopened its doors and the stage was put to use again.

Del’s theatrical tradition has been continued by the private school which opened in 1994. In 1998, DELTA (Del Theatre Arts) was established and gave students the opportunity to take a leadership role in the theatre production process. Student directors Luke Arnott and Robert Kim went on to direct some of the private school’s more memorable productions, including Little Shop of Horrors (1999) and Twelve Angry Men (2002). Classically-trained drama teacher Glenn Cherny directed several dramas, including The Importance of Being Earnest (2006) and Pygmalion (2008).

In 2010, Del alumnus Michael Luchka (Class of ’93) revived the original Theatre De La Salle which saw its final curtain come down in 1993. With unprecedented support from the Administration, Parents Association, and Del Alumni, Theatre De La Salle launched a new era with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (2012) and continues to showcase the many talents of the school’s students and staff. The Theatre relies on creative fundraising initiatives, advertisers, and dinner theatre and V.I.P. sponsorship packages to raise the funds for its lavish productions. A Theatre tradition established by the creative team is to invite a cast member from the previous year’s production to join a current staff member in making a cameo appearance in a current production. Del and Theatre DLS alumnus, Jerry McGroarty and his wife, Marlene MacDonald, who also appeared in several Theatre De La Salle productions in the 70’s and 80’s, have assisted behind the scenes with set and costume design with each of the five most recent productions. Their son, Johnny, also an 'Oaklands' grad and Theatre DLS alum, has assisted as musical director.

Drama and Musical Productions at De La Salle College "Oaklands"