It’s a rare occasion when a theatre company hits its 100th season, and definitely cause for celebration.
Tonight, Ottawa’s historic Orpheus Musical Theatre Society — the longest-running theatre of its kind in North America — pays tribute to the last hundred years with an original show, The Spirit of Orpheus.
It’s an ambitious production, featuring a cast 54 performers, an entire symphony, and hundreds of volunteers behind the scenes who have helped take it from the audition stage in January, through to opening night.
“We are very excited because we’re a huge family and we’ve all given so much over the years, so it’s nice to find a way to recognize that passion that’s kept us going,” says the show’s musical director and current Orpheus president, Marlene Hudson.
For Michael Gareau, a long-time Orpheus member, performer and co-creator of the show, the musical retrospective is the perfect way to say thanks to the musical society’s supporters.
“This theatre is like being home for the people who love it — those who come to the shows and those who have a part in creating them — and we wanted to recognize the best moments and the history of the last hundred years,” he explains.
But when he and music composer John McGovern first sat down to create the show, they realized they wanted to do more than just a chronological re-cap of the theatre’s history.
Instead they created two characters: a seasoned veteran of the theatre known as the Spirit, and Neo, the curious young performer she takes under her wing.
Together the two guide the audience through a thematic journey through more than 65 shows, as medleys of the best songs featuring leading women, the most memorable spots for leading men, powerful chorus numbers and the most entertaining dance sequences, play out on stage. “We just thought our audience comes to the shows, but maybe we can let them know what Orpheus really is all about and bring back some of their best memories at the same time,” says Gareau.
The Spirit of Orpheus opens tonight at 8 p.m. and runs through June 9 at Centrepointe Theatre. For ticket information, all 613-580-2700.