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garber 1967Victor Garber at the Grand

As far back as I can remember, performing was what I could do, what I was driven to do and obsessed to do. I played Tom Sawyer. I remember auditioning for it and getting it and I thought: "That's it. I'm hooked."
- Victor Garber
, 1998

By far the most famous alumni of London Little Theatre, Victor Garber began his theatre career in children's shows at the Grand and gradually worked his way up to featured roles in a number of mainstage productions throughout the 1960s. What follows is a brief description of the fledgling actor's career in London.

1958/59 season
Macbeth (Donalbaine)

Ten-year-old Victor was somewhat familiar to Londoners through appearance on his mother's At Home show on CFPL-TV when he was given his first role by the Grand's artistic director, Peter Dearing. This April 1959 production was geared towards high school students studying the play in their English classes. Garber's first ever line on stage? "What is amiss?"

1959/60 season
The King and I (Royal Prince)

A non-speaking role for Garber, his brother, sister and mother in this large-scale musical which opened the season. It was the first production to pair Garber with director Don Fleckser, who would become the young actor's mentor during his amateur period. Garber (buried in a children's chorus) got to sing the first of many Broadway songs, Getting to Know You.

Tom Sawyer (title role)
Garber's first significant stage role in children's theatre was the result of Don Fleckser's keen eye for casting. Future stage and film actress Kate Nelligan was inspired to enter the theatre after seeing this production.

1960/61 season
Heidi (Peter)

Another children's production with Garber playing opposite Bridget Blackwell and a bunch of live goats.

1961/62 season
Life With Father (John Day)

Another season opener directed by Don Fleckser, this show called upon Garber to have his hair dyed red for the role. Set designer Martha Mann later noted that Garber's star quality was undeniable by that time.

1963/64 season
Kiss Me Kate (big shaggy dog)
Although one of Garber's most anonymous roles, his performance was singled out by the local theatre critic. At the age of 12 Garber had been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes which may explain why his budding talents were absent from the London theatre scene for more than two years.

1964/65 season
The Diary of Anne Frank (Peter Van Daan)
During the summer of 1964 Garber took a theatre course at Hart House under Robert Gill. At this time, he was the youngest member of the company at 15 and had changed his professional name from Vic to Victor Garber. His costar in Anne Frank, Caroline Dolny-Guerin, later became the head of the drama department at a local high school.

1966/67 season
Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd (Cockey)

Garber had attained semiprofessional status by the time he appeared in his final London Little Theatre show. He had taken theatrical training at George Luscombe's Toronto Workshop and had just started up a successful folk rock group, Sugar Shoppe, with fellow Londoner Laurie Hood. Unlike previous musicals at the Grand, Garber had a chance to sing solo this time.

After Sugar Shoppe disbanded, Garber landed the role of Jesus in a Toronto production of Godspell, which led to his casting in the film version of the play in 1973. This performance helped launch a stage career that has included plays like Deathtrap, Sweeney Todd and Damn Yankees. In recent years, his film roles have included Titanic and Legally Blonde. He has returned to the Grand Theatre on rare occasions, most notably for a performance of Love Letters and for the theatre's 100th anniversary gala in 2002.

In 2005, Garber lent his name and image to the Grand's fundraising effort and to a London-based educational campaign sponsored by the Canadian Diabetes Association. (Image courtesy Banting House National Historic Site)

Click here for a complete list of Victor Garber's acting credits.