Originally called the St. Timothy Players, the North Toronto Players presented their first show at the St. Timothy Church hall in the north end of Toronto. A venue change prompted the name change and 5 decades of roving musical fun — a journey that took them to the Lawrence Park Community Church, Lawrence Park Collegiate, Cardinal Carter Academy for the Arts, the Leah Posluns Theatre, the Vaughan City Playhouse, the York Woods Library Theatre, Forest Grove and then Jubilee United Church and now to their newest home in The Papermill Theatre.
Under the artistic and musical direction of Michael Harms and John Ricciardelli, the North Toronto Players have explored exciting, new takes on the classic G&S musicals. In the past 20 years NTP has set The Mikado in various locales: a Japanese karaoke bar, a spaghetti-western saloon and a “Sopranos”-inspired New Jersey tavern. The Pirates of Penzance have been a biker gang in the 1950s and again in a 1960s Mad Men inspired corporate setting. Iolanthe was married to a Canadian senator (in the days when that was a good thing). The Yeomen of the Guard were antiterrorist spies. Ruddygore became a movie theatre where the cursed members of the House of Murgatroyd inspired horror movie villains. Princess Ida moved to ancient Greece (in the days when that was a good thing). And the HMS Pinafore explored the Star Trek galaxy.
These adaptations have inspired remarkable sets and costumes over the years, but have gone well beyond the outward trappings. Michael and John have extensivly re-written lyrics and dialogue. They have even added or rearranged music to create cohesive new productions that explore the idea: “What would Gilbert and Sullivan have come up with if they had written this today?” NTP’s commitment to connect G&S with contemporary audiences culminated in a grand experiment: in 2016, for its 50th production, the creative team, with the addition of long time NTP collaborator and playwright Barb Scheffler, brought together favourite melodies, choruses, themes and sensibilities from the brilliant works of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan to create an original libretto for an all new G&S operetta - Chelsea Moore Castle. This was followed in 2018 by the wildly successful and topical Lear Incorporated and 2020 will see the creation of another new work The Millionaire (A Musical Murder Mystery).
No matter what innovations or changes NTP has experienced over the years, the company has always focused on providing quality entertainment for its supporters and a warm, welcoming atmosphere for everyone who chooses to become a member.
Michael Harms (Stage Director)
Michael has followed his interest in Theatre through many disciplines in a rather eclectic career. He started working in experimental theatre and environmental dinner theatre, creating original works with the cutting edge ‘Company Theatre’ and ‘touch tongues’ while working at His Majesty’s Feast Dinner Theatre. He moved on to explore Clown at the Theatre Resource Centre, then to an MFA in Acting Performance, which led him to train and perform in opera and finally to teach Voice, Mask and Acting at York University, Sheridan College, Wilfred Laurier, Humber College, The Toronto Film School and Seneca College. His stage credits include The Mousetrap, Hamlet, Richard III, Three Penny Opera, Carmen and the wildly successful Clouds – the Musical which ran forever and toured all over Canada.
As well as relying on Michael’s skills as a director and G&S adaptor, NTP has also persuaded him to play lead roles in a number of shows — including his favourites, Frederick in Pirates, Loco in 2015’s El Mikado and Donald J Lear in Lear Incorporated.