A Short History of Theatre Ancaster
Our Season 2012-2013 Season
Theatre Ancaster continued its second decade of community musical theatre in November 2012 with the Tony Award winning Broadway hit Hairspray which played to rave reviews in November and December. It was a full Broadway style production with a cast of 70 and orchestra. We entertained children, students, adults and seniors for three weekends of shows.
Following that production, Christmas at The Old Firehall Arts Centre in December featured the singers, musicians and dancers of Theatre Ancaster in two shows for the community, with proceeds going to The Ancaster Community Services Christmas Outreach Program .
At the end of January, our Junior Broadway Company presented Once On This Island Jr. on the Main Stage. In February, Theatre Ancaster teamed with The Hamilton All Star Jazz band once again to host two Valentine concerts at the Old Firehall Arts Centre. In March, our Stage 3 Young Company of teen actors presented the uproariously funny The 13th Annual Putnman County Spelling Bee on our main stage.
Our high energy blockbuster musical revue of Canadian hits, Made In Canada, ran in April and showcased 50 years of Canadian hits.
The Fall 2013 season begins in September with Side by Side by Sondheim at the Old Firehall Arts Centre, followed by our Main Stage production A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To the Forum, opening in November. More details can be found on our Playbill page.
Thank you to our Community of Supporters
We want to take this opportunity to thank our patrons and sponsors for their support during the past decade, as well as our casts and crews, and our families and friends. It’s been wonderful.
How We Got Started
Ralf Hakenberg, Al Croxall and Gord Conroy directed and produced a decade of very successful musicals for high school students at Ancaster High School beginning in 1982. Each year, they involved anywhere from 100 to 200 students in all aspects of the productions.
Theatre Ancaster originated in Ancaster’s bicentennial year, 1993, under the auspices of the Ancaster Arts Council. With the co-operation of Ancaster High School and the former Wentworth County Board of Education, we showcased three original Broadway Reviews - titled Broadway Hits Ancaster, November, 1993; Puttin’ on the Hitz, February, 1995; and The Magic of Broadway, in November, 1996. In November 1995, we staged Jesus Christ Superstar.
Our Status and Mandate
In the spring of 1997, Theatre Ancaster became a separate entity. We are incorporated as a non-profit community theatre with federal charitable organization status. Our stated purpose as a community theatre is
*To present excellent quality live musical theatre and related attractions
*To organize support for such events
*To promote musical theatre among the youth and adults of Ancaster and the surrounding community.”
Our First Production as Theatre Ancaster
In November 1997, we presented our first production as Theatre Ancaster: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In November 1998, we highlighted Ancaster and area singers and dancers of all ages in Sing For Me: A Tribute to the Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. In April/May of 1998, we presented our first Spring show, Perfectly Frank: The Songs of Sinatra.
Since then Theatre Ancaster has presented some 25 shows for the community. We have also begun a summer theatre program for young people and fall and winter youth theatre companies. We continue to perform for special occasions and events within the community, and play a role in musical events at our home base, the Old Firehall Arts Centre.
Educational Work With Young People
From February to June, 2000, 2001 and 2002, Theatre Ancaster completed a contract with the Hamilton-Wentworth District Board of Education. Each year eight different secondary school students, under the direction of Gord Conroy and Al Croxall, researched, wrote and presented a forty minute stage presentation aimed at persuading senior elementary and secondary school students to consider careers in the skilled trades. This project was funded by the School Board, the Apprenticeship Branch of the Ontario Government, and by Human Resources Canada. Each year, it was presented to 6000 - 9000 students at more than twenty-five schools and to the public.
In 2003 and again in 2004, a new project was undertaken from September to February each year. It featured the production of short videos on careers in the entertainment industry, health sciences, transportation, and the skilled trades and was presented to more than ninety classes of students in grades 7 and 8 by senior high school students trained in role playing and group presentation techniques by Conroy and Croxall.
In 2009, Theatre Ancaster again partnered with The Hamilton Wentworth District School Board to establish a new program for the performing arts. It is a co-op education program for interested arts students from various Hamilton High Schools which features Theatre Ancaster as the co-op employer. Art Smart takes place at Hill Park Secondary School each year, and is led by Theatre Ancaster personnel working in partnership with the staff of the newly formed Hill Park Academy for The Arts. Students receive a full semester of arts programming in music, dance and acting with options for tech work, costume and set design and creation. The featured show in 2009 was Into the Woods, followed by Seussical in 2010, involving some 30 plus students from a dozen area high schools. This year will feature the classic princess and the pea story, Once Upon a Mattress. Performances are held in May and June each year.
The Old Firehall Arts Centre
In 2003, Theatre Ancaster and The Hamilton All Star Jazz Band began creating an Arts Centre at The Old Firehall on Wilson Street in downtown Ancaster. The first phase of the project featured new heating and air conditioning, rehearsal space for the two arts organizations, and a small performance space for 75-100 people to showcase local talent on the weekends. The project was roundly supported by Ancaster Councilor Murray Ferguson, and funded in part by The Ontario Trillium Foundation. Plans for the second phase include further upgrades and possible expansion of the facility.
Our Gala Opening Concert at The Old Firehall Arts Centre was October 26, 2005. The refurbished firehall was filled to overflowing as singers from Theatre Ancaster combined with musicians from The Hamilton All Star Jazz Band under the leadership of Russ Weil. A new stage, lighting and sound system welcomed the audience.
Theatre Ancaster’s Summer Music Theatre Programs for Youth
Young people have always been a part of all our Broadway shows. We have chosen our Broadway shows to make sure an intergenerational cast was possible. In 1999, we began our first summer theatre program for young people. It featured singing, dancing, and acting and as far as possible, developed team play, caring, leadership and responsibility in as many aspects of theatre work as was possible. That philosophy has been maintained as the program expanded.
Theatre Ancaster’s successful summer arts and musical theatre camp program operated from The Old Firehall for the first time in the summer of 2005. The program which began in 1999 with two sessions, has now expanded to include The Jitterbugs, a camp for Pre School children, and three older camps for youth, a Junior Program, an Intermediate, and a Senior program. Students from 3.5 to 15 are now involved. All camps provide excellent teacher leaders in drama, music and dance. Nupi Lapsley is our Director of Youth Programming.
Recognition for Our Programs
Theatre Ancaster Theatre Ancaster recently received its second grant from The Ontario Trillium Foundation, this time for $49,000. An earlier grant from The Trillium Foundation for $75,000.00 helped purchase sound and lighting equipment.
In 1995, Theatre Ancaster founding directors Al Croxall, Ralf Hakenberg and Gord Conroy were honoured by The Town of Ancaster for their services as educators and musical theatre directors who enriched the community with their work.
The same three individuals were also honoured as Paul Harris Fellows by Rotary International in June 2003.
Before Ancaster’s amalgamation with Hamilton, similar honours were given to both Doris Holder, a tireless leader and volunteer with Theatre Ancaster and other organizations, and to Tina Rath for her work as choreographer for Theatre Ancaster and teacher of dance in the community.
Ongoing Community Work
Theatre Ancaster provides musical entertainment, using a small group of performers, to community, charitable, and private functions.
Theatre Ancaster has provided more than $100,000 in improvements and support over its last decade to the Theatre Auditorium at Ancaster High School as part of its partnership agreement with the school.
To become involved with Theatre Ancaster, or for tickets and general information, please call 905-304-SHOW (7469).
© 2010 Theatre Ancaster Photography by PhotoArts International
Updated January, 2011