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September 2001 marked the centenary of London Ontario's Grand Theatre - the nation's oldest continually-peforming playhouse. In honour of this centenary, Doty Docs presents a series of historical snapshots of the Grand's greatest moments. There are memorable stories, photographs, sound and video clips - and a few guest appearances along the way.

book launch

New book chronicles every season at the Grand

Author Sheila Johnston (seen here at her book's launch) draws on a wealth of photographs, stories and personal anecdotes to tell the story of one of Canada's great playhouses. Lavishly illustrated and copiously researched, this is a must-read for anyone who loves the theatre. Available at most book stores and at the Grand Theatre for $38.00.
Published through Natural Heritage Books.

A Documentary in Three Acts

Highlights include Sir John Gielgud's 1947 visit, Victor Garber's early auditions, Michael Ondaatje's controversial production of Billy the Kid and those great Peter Dearing musicals of the 1960s. The film features interviews with Hume Cronyn, William Hutt, Paul Soles and Rod Beattie. VHS copies are available at the Grand Theatre for $23.00.
Produced by Doty Docs and CIVA Communications.

For ordering information contact
The Grand Theatre Box Office
471 Richmond Street, London Ontario, Canada, N6A 3E4
1 800 265 1593

Book launch photo courtesy of southpaw design (

The Peter Dearing Musicals
The great musicals performed by London Little Theatre and directed by Peter Dearing in the 1950s and 1960s. The list includes My Fair Lady, Oliver and South Pacific. Future stars like opera singer Victor Braun and actor Victor Garber cut their teeth on these productions.

Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy
Londoner Hume Cronyn and Oscar-winning wife, Jessica Tandy had connections to the Grand stretching back to 1939 when Cronyn participated in a round table discussion on the future of Canadian professional theatre and Tandy performed Shaw in a touring company.

The Christmas Shows
There are a long list of Christmas shows at the Grand, from children's theatre in the 1950s to Christmas concerts in the 1970s to adaptations of A Christmas Carol in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Grand has been the friend of local playwrights since 1936 when the London Little Theatre scooped the Dominion Drama Festival with a play written by a Sarnia author - the first Canadian play to be so honored. Other London authors who saw their work performed at the Grand included Orlo Miller, James Reaney, Peter Colley, Michael Ondaatje and Allan Stratton.

The Classics and The Stars
They were drawn to the Grand from its first season. Stars who graced the London stage included Sarah Bernhardt, Ethel Barrymore and Michael Redgrave. The highpoint occurred in 1947 when John Gielgud kicked off his first postwar North American at the Grand.

The Canadian Phenomenons
A perenial Canadian favourite, Letter from Wingfield Farm had one of its first performances at the Grand's McManus Theatre in 1985, where it quickly outdrew the mainstage production. It has been a favourite for Londoners since then, but the character of Walt Wingfield is one of several well-loved Canadians who have visited the Grand. Others have included Dave Broadfoot, Sandra Shamus, William Hutt and the National Ballet.

Curtain Calls
Other Grand-related stuff you'll enjoy

The Ghost of Ambrose Small
Something has been bumping around the Grand for years. Is it the spirit of a former owner?

Richard Berry Harrison
The son of fugitive slaves, Harrison became America's leading black actor and went on to play God...literally. His NAACP honoured performance at the Grand Theatre in 1934 remains one of the highlights in race relations in London.

Victor Garber
The most successful actor to come out of London community theatre. His early, largely unknown, career as a child actor at the Grand Theatre is traced by your web master.

Catharine Brickenden
The story of one of the most dynamic and creative forces in London theatre history.

The Grand Mural
For decades the semi-nude ladies above the theatre's proscenium arch have inspired snickers from young boys and snooty comments from art students. Now you can learn the true story behind the Grand's oldest artistic feature.

The Grand Theatre
The official Web site of the Grand Theatre is full of interesting historical tidbits: playlists from every season, profiles of past artistic directors and details on the stars who have played there.

Ambrose Small: Case Closed
Proposal for a new television documentary that will blow the lid off the mysterious disappearance of former Grand Theatre owner Ambrose Small. Promises more than it delivers.