“Monster-hit” makes Toronto prem

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April 22, 2010

                   “Monster-hit” makes Toronto premiere
              Canadian Stage presents Edmonton-based Catalyst Theatre’s
                       award-winning adaption of Frankenstein
                                  Canadian Stage’s Bluma Appel Theatre
                                              Opens May 6
      “A monsterpiece…Christenson scores a dazzling trifecta. His book explores the story’s broader themes
      with stunning theatricality and emotion. His lyrics are simple but faithful to the complexity of the
      original and his music, ranging from Gilbert and Sullivan patter songs to gorgeous modern pop power
      ballads is accessible, even hummable … the audience was transfixed. A monster hit.”–The Edmonton Sun

      “a darkly comic phantasmagoria, whose storytelling elements remind you of everything from Alice in
      Wonderland and Cabaret, to Into The Woods and Phantom — and then some. A gothic tour de force.”
                                                                                            –Calgary Herald

       “One of the real stars of the show is designer Bretta Gerecke. Her richly detailed, raggedy white
      costumes and dreadlocked wigs evoke the 18th century, Rocky Horror and a convention of ghost clowns
      all at once. A bizarre collection of strangely mutated props enhance the sense of hybrid weirdness.
      Gerecke's sets are equally evocative: a graveyard of twisted white papier-maché trees and crosses, and
      Arctic mountains and glaciers made of plastic shower curtains.”–Vancouver Province

      ”Forty years before Charles Darwin blew the top off a religiously determined natural world, Shelley
      expressed the horror of digging too deeply into life's secrets. And this Tim Burtonesque musical, so
      tenderly sung and gorgeously presented, digs very deep indeed”–The Globe and Mail

Toronto, ON (April 22, 2010) – Canadian Stage presents the Toronto premiere of Catalyst Theatre’s Frankenstein, an
award-winning adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic gothic novel integrating poetic verse, song, original music, stylized
movement and fantastical costumes and sets made entirely of paper. Frankenstein has taken western Canada by
storm enjoying sold-out runs in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Banff, Saskatoon, Whitehorse, Vernon BC and Fort
McMurray AB, and collecting eight Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards including Outstanding New Play, Production of a
Musical, Score, Set, Costume and Lighting Design. Conceived by Catalyst Theatre’s Artistic Director Jonathan
Christenson, who also directs, and Resident Designer Bretta Gerecke, the production stars the original cast including
Andrew Kushnir as Dr. Victor Frankenstein and George Szilagyi as The Creature. Catalyst Theatre, an internationally
acclaimed, groundbreaking Edmonton-based company was part of the Cultural Olympiad in Vancouver in February
and will be playing London’s Barbican Theatre in July and NY’s New Victory Theater in the fall. The company was
introduced to Toronto audiences at the Luminato Festival last year receiving critical and popular acclaim for
Nevermore, The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe. Frankenstein previews begin April 29; the
production opens May 6 and continues to May 29, 2010 at the Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front Street East, Toronto.
Tickets are available in person, by phone 416.368.3110, or online at
Canadian Stage presents Catalyst Theatre’s Frankenstein cont’d                                                      p. 2
A bona fide hit in every market, the original production of Frankenstein was presented at Keyano Theatre in Fort
McMurray in November 2006. In March 2007, the production ran in Edmonton for nineteen performances and
garnered ten nominations and eight wins at the 2007 Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards. In January 2008, Frankenstein
traveled to Vancouver where it was co-presented by the Vancouver East Cultural Centre and the PuSh International
Performing Arts Festival. That tour also included the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre (Vernon, BC), The Eric
Harvie Theatre (Banff Centre for the Arts) and was followed by a return to the Catalyst stage in Edmonton. In 2009,
Catalyst was introduced with Frankenstein to audiences in Calgary at the Max Bell Theatre in a co-presentation
between the One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo and Theatre Calgary; in Whitehorse at the Yukon Arts
Centre and in Saskatoon at the Persephone Theatre. Most recently Frankenstein played for the third time in Edmonton
at the Timms Centre for the Arts, where on April 17, 2010, it played its 100th performance. The entire original team
(onstage and off) has stayed on with the production since the first phase of its development.

Frankenstein is a highly stylized musical adaptation of Shelley’s classic novel. The cautionary tale about the consequences of
interfering with nature and the universal search for love and acceptance revolves around Dr. Frankenstein and his
tormented creature who becomes increasingly hostile towards the man who made and abandoned him, and the society
that repels him. A startling storybook come to life, this dreamlike spectacle features the original cast of eight actors in over
40 roles and integrates poetic text, witty song, stylized movement and fantastical costumes and sets made almost entirely
of white paper. It is a quirky, beautiful and often ghoulishly humorous retelling of a timeless story.

Co-creators Jonathan Christenson and Bretta Gerecke wrote, ‘We were drawn to Frankenstein as a powerful
contemporary myth, one that speaks on both the personal and the collective level and to explore deeply felt, if rarely
expressed, fears and longings that transcend time and space. It was a story that seemed at once topical and timeless. It
is a brilliant exploration of what happens when we fail to take responsibility for what we have put out into the world,
on both an individual and a societal level. Like all great myths, everything about this story is writ larger than life,
stretching our imaginations to the very limits of probability. We hope to transport audiences to another world — a
place in between dreams and reality. We tell the story as a modern day fairy tale for adults with dark, complex and
contradictory truths. It is a world that is at once whimsical, nostalgic and tender, horrifying, brutal and ugly, one that
walks the tightrope that’s stretched between tragedy and comedy, that belongs more to the world of dreams than that
of our waking lives, and speaks more to the heart than it does to the mind.’

Canadian Stage’s Artistic & General Director Matthew Jocelyn states, “Catalyst Theatre Artistic Director Jonathan
Christenson and Resident Designer Bretta Gerecke have a unique visual vocabulary. They explore ideas through a
highly stylized approach to language, movement, design and performance style. It is with great pleasure that we
welcome these formidable artists, and the magic they create, to our stage.” He continues, “What makes Catalyst
Theatre’s adaptation of Frankenstein so compelling is the way it explores the root themes of Shelley’s novel while
framing its questions in an undeniably contemporary context. Re-imagining eternal human questions from a uniquely
contemporary perspective is at the very heart of our work here at Canadian Stage.”

Frankenstein features the original cast and creative team from the world premiere production. Joining actors Andrew
Kushnir and George Szilagyi are Nick Green, Tim Machin, Sarah Machin Gale, Nancy McAlear, Dov Mickelson and
Tracy Penner.

Frankenstein is written, directed and composed by Jonathan Christenson (Artistic Director of Catalyst Theatre), and
designed by Bretta Gerecke (Catalyst Theatre’s Resident Designer) with choreography by Laura Krewski and sound
design by Wade Staples. John Raymond is Stage Manager, with Candice Charney and Beth Dart as Assistant Stage
Managers. James Robert Boudreau is Production Manager. Amy Kucharuk is Head of Props. Sheena Haug is Costume
Associate and Kevin Green and Chris Hayes are Stage Carpenters.

Canadian Stage presents Catalyst Theatre’s Frankenstein cont’d                                                      p. 3

Artist Bios
Jonathan Christenson is Writer, Director, Composer
Christenson became Artistic Director of Catalyst Theatre in 1996. Under his leadership, the company has created
nearly 20 original productions which have toured Canada, the United States, the U.K. and Australia. He garnered
numerous awards in Canada and the U.K. for his work as a director, writer and composer. Past productions have
included Nevermore which will be touring London’s Barbican Theatre, New York’s New Victory Theater and Calgary’s
Vertigo Theatre, Frankenstei,n The Blue Orphan, The House of Pootsie Plunket, Elephant Wake, My Perfect Heaven, The
Abundance Trilogy, Electra, Songs for Sinners, Carmen Angel, Dream Life, Love + Love, and Sticky Shoes. He was
recently commissioned to write, compose, and direct Hunchback by The Citadel Theatre (Edmonton) and Keyano
Theatre (Fort McMurray). Outside of Catalyst Theatre, Christenson has taught for the Department of Drama at the
University of Alberta and directed productions for Studio Theatre (University of Alberta), The Citadel Theatre’s Teens
at the Turn Festival, Workshop West’s Springboards New Play Festival and Keyano College Theatre (Fort McMurray).

Bretta Gerecke is Production Designer
Originally from Winnipeg, Gerecke has been based in Edmonton for 14 years. She is the resident designer of Catalyst
Theatre, where she was designed more than 15 world premieres. Gerecke has also worked extensively at The Citadel
Theatre, Edmonton Opera, Canadian Stage (Sunday Father, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing,
Omnium Gatherum, Fire, Misery), The Edmonton Opera and the Calgary Opera. Her most recent credits include Beyond
Eden (Theatre Calgary/Vancouver Playhouse), Nevermore (Catalyst Theatre), The Drowning Girls (Bent Out of Shape
Productions), True Love Lies (Factory Theatre). Upcoming projects include Don Giovanni (Calgary Opera) and One Pure
Longing (Luminato/Erika Batdorf). Gerecke is the recipient of 15 Sterling Awards, the Enbridge Emerging Artist Prize, a
Top 40, Under 40 Award, the Global Woman of Vision Award, and was twice short-listed for the Siminovitch Prize.

Andrew Kushnir plays Dr. Victor Frankenstein
Kushnir is a Toronto-based actor and playwright. Most recently, he played Jack Wilson in Beyond Eden (Theatre
Calgary/Vancouver Playhouse). Other acting credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hair, Sweeney Todd
(Canadian Stage); The Last Five Years (Theatre Company); Habitat (Theatre Network); Offensive Shadows (Studio 180);
Pal Joey, Floyd Collins (Shaw Festival), King Lear (Colorado Shakespeare Company). Television and film credits include
The Border, This is Wonderland (CBC); Love Bites I & II (TBS); The Lazarus Child (Eagle Pictures). Writing credits include
the play The Middle Place, which was developed through Project Humanity (where Andrew is Creative Director) and
will be presented by Canadian Stage and Theatre Passe Muraille in their respective 2010-2011 seasons.

George Szilagyi plays The Creature
An Edmonton-based actor, Szilagyi makes his Canadian Stage debut. Szilagyi recently produced and performed his play
Hockey Stories for Boys, which he has adapted into an award-winning screenplay. Other highlights include: Dr. Treves
in The Elephant Man (Studio Theatre); Betram in The Black Rider (November Theatre); Owen in Girl in The Goldfish
Bowl (Theatre Network); and Ernest in The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine (Aarrgghh! Productions), for which he
received a Sterling Award for Outstanding Fringe Performance by an Actor. Film credits include Freezerburn with Tom
Green. Upcoming, Szilagyi will be curating the theatre program of Edmonton’s Kaleido! Arts Festival in September.

Catalyst Theatre
Catalyst Theatre is an internationally acclaimed Edmonton-based theatre company renowned for groundbreaking new
work under the leadership of Artistic Director Jonathan Christenson and ongoing partnership with Resident Designer
Bretta Gerecke. Since 1997, several of Catalyst’s productions including: The House of Pootsie Plunket, The Blue Orphan,
and Frankenstein have toured Canada, the U.S., Australia and the U.K. and garnered over forty awards. The work is
characterized by a bold and distinctive theatricality that integrates a strong musical component with striking visual
imagery, a heightened physical performance style, poetic text, and an often darkly comic sensibility. Rachel Haliburton of
The Independent (U.K.) wrote "With its unique visual language and disorientating sense of humour, Catalyst promises to
rewrite the theatrical agenda for other companies straining to be original.” Starting with Frankenstein in 2006, the
company has focused on developing one large-scale production every second year and on the continued collaboration of
a core group of artists. Their recent work Nevermore was presented last season at Keyano Theatre (Fort McMurray),
Canadian Stage presents Catalyst Theatre’s Frankenstein cont’d                                                             p. 4
Catalyst Theatre (Edmonton), National Arts Centre by Magnetic North Theatre Festival (Ottawa) and as part of Toronto’s
Luminato Festival at the Winter Garden Theatre. More recently it was part of the Cultural Olympiad in Vancouver by the
Arts Club Theatre, The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and The Vancouver East Cultural Centre and enjoyed a
second sold-out run in Edmonton. In 2010-2011 Nevermore will appear at The Barbican Theatre (London) co-presented
by the Barbican’s BITE and The London International Festival of Theatre, at the New Victory Theater in New York, and at
the Vertigo Theatre Centre in Calgary by the High Performance Rodeo and Vertigo Mystery Theatre. The Citadel Theatre
has commissioned Catalyst’s next production, Hunchback, an adaptation of the Victor Hugo classic. Hunchback will be
presented next February at Keyano Theatre in Fort McMurray prior to its official premiere in the Citadel’s Shoctor
Theatre in March 2011. For more information, refer to

Canadian Stage
Founded in 1987 with the merger of CentreStage and Toronto Free Theatre, Canadian Stage is one of Canada’s leading
not-for-profit contemporary theatre companies. Led by Artistic & General Director Matthew Jocelyn, Canadian Stage
produces and showcases innovative theatre work from Canada and around the world, allowing its audience to
encounter daring work guided by a strong directorial vision and a 21st-century aesthetic. The company prides itself on
presenting trans-disciplinary work and work in translation that pushes the boundaries of form and style. The company
reinforces the presence of Canadian art and artists within an international context through work that mirrors the
cultural diversity of Toronto. Canadian Stage has a long-standing commitment to education and enhancement
programs for the public and investing in the art form by nurturing and developing theatre professionals while
producing thought-provoking theatre and quality entertainment in Toronto, one of North America’s largest theatre
centres. For more information, refer to


April 29-May 5   Previews
May 6            Opening Night
May 29           Closing Night

SCHEDULE: Monday-Saturday at 8 p.m.; matinees Wednesday 1:30 p.m. and Saturday 2 p.m.

LOCATION: Canadian Stage – Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front Street E., Toronto.


TICKETS: From $20. Available online at, by phone via Canadian Stage 416.368.3110, or in person at Customer
Service Centres: Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley Street; or Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E., Toronto.

RUSH SEATS: 50% off the ticket price for any performance. Must be purchased in person at the box office 1 hour before show time.

PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN: Monday-night only. Must be purchased in person at the box office at 10 a.m. on the day of performance.

C-STAGE: For individuals under 30 with valid ID, $12.50 tickets not subject to tax/service charges. May be purchased in advance or on
day of performance. Purchase online at, by phone or in person. Info:

GROUPS OF 10+ PEOPLE SAVE: Contact Christina Hotz at 416.367.8243 x266 or

TALK BACKS: Free. Informal question-and-answer periods provide a chance to meet the artists following a performance in the
theatre. After every Tuesday evening and Wednesday matinee show, excluding previews. No registration required.

THEATRE CLUB: Free. Structured like a book club with an opportunity to discuss the play and the Canadian Stage Reads book
selection. Saturday, May 29 at 10:30 a.m. at Nicolas Hoare Books, 45 Front St. E. Register at


Media Contact: Margaret Sirotich, 416-367-8243 x 259,

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