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Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Project presents Brantwood: 1920-2020

March 05, 2015

Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Project proudly presents the world premiere of Brantwood: 1920-2020, a groundbreaking, immersive musical theatre experience created and directed by Outside the March’s Mitchell Cushman and Convergence Theatre’s Julie Tepperman, with music and lyrics by Bram Gielen, Anika Johnson, and Britta Johnson, original music by Christopher Thornborrow, and produced by Michael Rubinoff, Sheridan's Associate Dean of Visual and Performing Arts. A landmark project “created by some of the most innovative people on our theatre scene” (Toronto Star), Brantwood runs from Tuesday, April 14 to Sunday, May 3 (Media Night on April 16) at 7 pm nightly. Audience members gather at the main entrance to Sheridan College, 1430 Trafalgar Rd, Oakville to get on the school bus that will transport them to and from Brantwood School. 

As the Toronto District School Board ponders closing several schools over the next decade, Brantwood the largest production of immersive, site-specific musical theatre in Canadian history – is staged in a real-life GTA school slated for redevelopment.

At Sheridan College, audience members are greeted as the final graduating class of a fictional Brantwood High and transported by yellow school bus to their “alma mater” for a reunion before the school's closing for good. An unexpected event hurls the audience back in time to explore a century of adolescent life: first loves, growing pains, peer pressure and youthful experimentation through the ages.

The evening unfolds with 11 era-specific hot topic storylines, one for each decade of the school’s history, plus a look into the future: a 1920s teacher-student affair; 1930s anti-Semitism; 1940s gender and racial segregation; a 1950s teen pregnancy; a 1960s LSD trip; a 1970s foray into amateur porn; a 1980s film-noir narcotics thriller; a 1990s talent show and the dreams of a transgendered student; a 2000s musical exploring a story from the school's sordid past; a 2015 student's attempt to save the school from developers; and a 2020 condo story centered on a young gay couple haunted by the ghosts of Brantwood's past.

Featuring text and songs that span a century of different musical genres, Brantwood is performed by the 2015 graduating class of Sheridan’s renowned Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance program. Rounding out the cast are talented professionals Suzanne Bennett, Claire Calnan, Ralph Small and Andrew Trithardt portraying Brantwood’s teachers and principals. Brantwood thus pairs seasoned actors with the next generation of musical theatre artists in a cutting-edge, first-of-its-kind Canadian production. As Rubinoff notes: “At Sheridan we strive to prepare our students on stage and off to be industry leaders. Brantwood is a glimpse into the future of the theatre and I am proud that our students will be at the forefront of this innovative expression of the medium.”

In choose-your-own-adventure style, spectators decide which storylines to follow as they wander through classrooms and halls in a production featuring 90 characters (portrayed by 40 actors), 200 scenes, 40 musical numbers and unexpected dance sequences – with 15 scenes occurring simultaneously at any given time, all interwoven with clockwork precision orchestrated by a crew of 40 students from Sheridan's Technical Production for Theatre and Live Events program. Adding to the mystery and excitement of the evening are secret passage-ways, one-on-one encounters, treasure hunts and rewards for solving multi-media riddles hidden in plain sight.

Recently, the Tony award-winning composer of Parade, Jason Robert Brown, invited the graduating students from Sheridan’s Music Theatre Performance program to join Manhattan Concert Productions' one night only performance of Parade at the Lincoln Centre's Avery Fisher Hall. On February 16, Sheridan students joined a 200-person choir from theatre schools across the United States, as well as the New York City Chamber Orchestra and a full principal Broadway cast including stars Jeremy Jordan and Laura Benanti.

Produced by Michael Rubinoff, Sheridan College's award-winning Associate Dean of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, Brantwood is a must-see collaboration between Mitchell Cushman and Julie Tepperman, who have been wowing audiences since 2006 by creating unique, immersive, site-specific theatrical experiences with their own theatre companies, Outside the March and Convergence Theatre, respectively. Their productions have taken place in cars, hotels, kindergarten classrooms, synagogues, churches, parks and houses – earning them multiple Dora Awards and nominations. 

Mitchell Cushman is a director, producer, educator, and Co-Artistic Director of Outside the March, one of Canada’s leading site-specific theatre companies. With OtM, Cushman has staged such award-winning immersive theatrical experiences as Terminus, Passion Play, Vitals and Mr. Marmalade (earning Outstanding Independent Production Dora Awards for the latter two). As a director, his work has been seen in spaces as intimate as a kindergarten classroom, and in locales as remote as Whitehorse and Munich. His numerous distinctions include the Siminovitch Protégé Award, the Ken McDougall Award and Toronto Theatre Critics’ Awards for Best Production and Best Director (Terminus). This summer, he will direct Possible Worlds for the Stratford Festival.

Julie Tepperman is an actor, playwright, educator and Co-Artistic Director (with Aaron Willis) of Convergence Theatre, creators of the hit plays AutoShow, The Gladstone Variations (4 Dora nominations) and YICHUD (Seclusion). In June 2013, they co-produced (along with Outside the March and Sheep No Wool) the Canadian premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s three-part epic Passion Play. Tepperman’s playwriting credits include YICHUD (Seclusion), I Grow Old (as part of The Gladstone Variations – 4 Dora nominations) and a re-imagining of the August Strindberg play The Father (Winnipeg Jewish Theatre/Manitoba Theatre Centre).

Michael Rubinoff is Associate Dean of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Sheridan College. He is Past President of the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts and Chair of its Commercial Theatre Development Fund. Rubinoff is the producer of Theatre Sheridan’s six-show season and produced the 2012 transfer of Theatre Sheridan’s production of RENT to the Mirvish-owned Panasonic Theatre. In 2011, he established the Canadian Music Theatre Project at Sheridan, Canada’s incubator for new musical theatre works by Canadian and international artists.

Long recognized for excellence in music theatre performance and technical theatre production, Sheridan College offers an innovative learning environment celebrated for academic excellence, applied research and creativity. Alumni perform on stages and work backstage in theatres across the world including on Broadway, in London’s West End and at the Stratford Shakespeare and Shaw Festivals. Theatre Sheridan presents six productions a year at the Trafalgar Road campus in Oakville. Visit theatre.sheridancollege.ca and follow them on Twitter @TheatreSheridan for more information.

Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Project presents the world premiere of

Brantwood: 1920-2020

A landmark, epic, immersive, mysterious, musical theatre experience

Created, written and directed by Mitchell Cushman and Julie Tepperman

Music and lyrics by Bram Gielen, Anika Johnson and Britta Johnson

Produced by Michael Rubinoff

Featuring a cast of 40!

Music direction by James Smith

Set and props by Jon Grosz and Kenneth MacKenzie

Costumes by Nina Okens

Sound design and musical orchestrations arranged by Christopher Thornborrow

Lighting by Nicholas Blais

Choreography by Nicola Pantin 

Tuesday, April 14 – Sunday, May 3 (Media Night: April 16)

 Tuesday-Sunday at 7pm nightly

Patrons assemble at the main entrance to Sheridan College, 1430 Trafalgar Rd, Oakville to get on the school bus transporting them to and from Brantwood School (221 Allan Street, Oakville).

 Parking at Sheridan College: $4 during the week, free on weekends

Tickets: $35 (discounts for groups and repeat patrons)

For tickets, call the Theatre Sheridan Box Office at 905-815-4049 or

 visit http://tickets.sheridancollege.ca

Audience members are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes.

Follow Brantwood on Twitter: @BrantwoodHigh

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MEDIA REFER:  Dianne Weinrib / Josh Dumont, DW Communications  416-703-5479  DW@dwcommunications.net