très loin

Premiere, Fall 2023

très loin

très loin is a visual and kinesthetic installation created in collaborative partnership with choreographer Sylvie Bouchard, visual artist Ed Pien, composer Phil Strong, dramaturg Anne-Marie Donovan, lighting designer André du Toit and four performers: Sierra Chin Sawdy, Natasha Poon Woo, Michael Caldwell and Pulga Muchochoma.

très loin marries dance, visual art and sound to explore childhood trauma, dissociation, roads to recovery and the search for resilience. The piece looks closely at how our mind and body deal with the consequences of trauma, but most importantly, it portrays the incredible strength, courage and perseverance needed to surmount these experiences and to reintegrate parts of ourselves that get lost, or split off, when traumatic experiences take place.

très loin is inviting the audiences into a unique and sensory-filled art installation, an ethereal landscape where four divided parts are striving, with all their might, to become whole again.

Maanomaa, My Brother
A Co-Production between Blue Bird Theatre Collective and Canadian Stage

World Premiere, Apr 11 - Apr 30, 2023

Maanomaa, My Brother

Co-created by Tawiah M'Carthy, Brad Cook, and Anne-Marie Donovan

When childhood friends Kwame and Will reunite in Ghana for the funeral of a loved one, they realize just how much has changed since the events that separated them 25 years earlier.As they struggle with the urge to keep stories from the past buried and the desire to connect, resurfaced memories set them on a journey to discover a truth that neither of them expected. Blending together styles of West African and Canadian theatre, Maanomaa mixes myth with reality, and the past with the present.

La Calandra, directed by Anne-Marie Donovan

March 24 - 28, 7:30pm
March 28, 2:00pm

La Calandra poster

XCamera talk at Inter Arts Matrix: Anne-Marie Donovan: Ethical, Transformative Performance

Friday, November 1, 2019, 12:00 noon
At Fresh Ground, 256 King Street East, Kitchener, ON, N2G 2L1
FREE - Everyone is welcome

As artists, we all strive for transformative experience and we hope that our work will have a transformative effect on the audience as well. How do we do that? And how do we do it ethically, without manipulation or injury? What is the nature of our communication with an audience? What if we look at it as a partnership? These questions implicate the director/choreographer/conductor as well. What are we asking of the performers and how are we asking? Is there space for them to have that transformative experience? I would suggest that ethics and transformation in performance are intrinsically linked. I’d like to talk about how that chemistry can be learned and achieved as part of basic performance technique.

Xcamera talk at Inter Arts Matrix

Phaedra Echoes Development Workshop

Thursday, September 19, 2019, 2pm
InterAction School for the Performing Arts, 228 Germain Street, Saint John, NB

Please join us for a development workshop presentation and audience discussion.


Phaedra Echoes Development Workshop invitation

Long Reach Opera Workshop 2020

June 1 - June 27, 2020
Performances: 7:30pm, June 24, 25, 26, 27, 2020
Downtown Toronto

Long Reach Opera Workshop Logo

Long Reach Opera Workshop is an incorporated not-for-profit organization that provides emerging singers with specialized training to complement their university education. LROW takes place in the heart of downtown Toronto, the world’s most multicultural city.

LROW is a “boutique” program, unique in that it offers an intimate, in-depth opera immersion focused on the performer – there is no big set design. Our faculty works in an integrated fashion, and emerging singers are focused entirely on preparing an opera, the training directed to learning, staging and performing a particular role. Unencumbered by theatrical trappings, we focus on musical excellence, the refined use of language, nuanced performance craft and telling a compelling, multidimensional story.

LROW has a small and mighty faculty of world-class artists led by co-artistic directors Dr. Michael Donovan, music director, and Anne-Marie Donovan, stage director. Hyejin Kwon returns as pianist and coach for Hänsel und Gretel; Christopher Bagan as historical keyboardist and music director for Bastien und Bastienne; Kate Carver as piano-vocal coach; and Brad Cook as movement & acting coach.

Hanssel und Gretel

Long Reach Opera Workshop 2019

June 3 - June 29, 2019
Performances: 7:30pm, June 28 & June 29, 2019
Downtown Toronto

Long Reach Opera Workshop Logo

LROW's program includes private coachings, staging rehearsals, acting and movement classes, and thematic master classes with accomplished guest artists and faculty. The workshop culminates in two fully- staged, public performances of Le nozze di Figaro.

LROW provides a comprehensive training experience for aspiring singer-actors and opera directors wanting to further their skills over the summer. At LROW you will be immersed in a supportive, challenging and fun environment with fellow singer-actors from across the country. And you will experience the excitement of living in the heart of downtown Toronto, the world's most culturally diverse city.

To receive an application form, to set up an audition or for more information, visit, call 226-972-3950 or email

Applications will be accepted starting September 15, 2018 until all roles have been cast.

First round auditions:
Halifax: November 3, 2018
Toronto: November 11, 2018
Applicants from outside those regions may audition via video.

For more information download the PDF brochure or visit the website,


Long Reach Opera Workshop 2019 Brochure

Phaedra Echoes ad

Phaedra Echoes
A staged reading

Thursday June 15, 2017 7:30 pm

Due to rain, the event has been moved to:
Courtyard Rehearsal Studio
141 Whitney Place, Kitchener ON, N2G 2X8
(Click for map)

PARKING: at the side of the building, through the chainlink gates, in the courtyard.
ENTER the building through sliding glass doors at the front.


Performed by:

Margaret Bárdos
Jennifer Cornish
Nada Humsi
Katharine Mills
Sibylle Marquardt, flute

Anne-Marie Donovan, Director
Isabella Stefanescu, Design

Research and Creation:
Anne-Marie Donovan, Kim Jernigan, Isabella Stefanescu

This is part of a larger interdisciplinary research/creation project called Phaedra of Edmonton.

Inter Arts Matrix Presents

Lord Sword Poster

Aldrin Bundoc and Michael Peng
An Epic for Two Actors 
by Douglas W. Campbell
directed by Anne-Marie Donovan

The Conrad Centre for Performing Arts
36 King St W, Kitchener, ON N2G 1A3

November 17-19, 8:00  pm
November 20, 2:00 pm
Tickets $25/$15
Tickets available

Download postcard

Long Reach Opera Workshop 2017

June 19 – July 8, 2017
Downtown Toronto

Long Reach Opera Workshop

Long Reach Opera Workshop is now in its 4th year and we continue to grow. Last year's production of Susannah was a stunning achievement. In 2017, we are excited to tackle Gian Carlo Menotti's powerful and prescient social drama, The Consul.

The Consul

LROW's program includes private coachings, staging rehearsals, acting and movement classes, and thematic master classes with accomplished guest artists and faculty. The workshop culminates in two fully- staged, public performances of The Consul at the Walmer Centre Theatre in downtown Toronto.

LROW provides a comprehensive training experience for aspiring singer-actors and opera directors wanting to further their skills over the summer. At LROW you will be immersed in a supportive, challenging and fun environment with fellow singer-actors from across the country. And you will experience the excitement of living in the heart of downtown Toronto, the world's most culturally diverse city.

For more information download the PDF brochure or visit the website,


Long Reach Opera Workshop 2017 Brochure

Blue Bird at Registry Theatre, Sept 29 - Oct 1

Blue Bird

Blue Bird
Created by Tawiah Ben M'Carthy and Brad Cook
With Anne-Marie Donovan

Two young men, childhood friends from Ghana, come together to reconcile with the deaths of their fathers and the events that tore apart their families 25 years earlier.

Presented by Blue Bird Theatre Collective with Inter Arts Matrix

The Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick Street, Kitchener

8pm Thursday, September 29
8pm, Friday, September 30
2pm, Saturday, October 1
8pm, Saturday, October 1

Tickets: $25 / $15 seniors, students & cultural sector workers

Purchase tickets at Ticketscene

Performed by Tawiah Ben M'Carthy ↦ Brad Cook
Anne-Marie Donovan, director
Kobena Aquaa-Harrison, original music
Andre Du Toit, Lighting design

Sponsored by:
Region of Waterloo Arts Fund
Ontario Arts Council
LemonTree Creations
UW Theatre & Performance

Long Reach Opera Workshop 2016: Susannah by Carlisle Floyd

Long Reach Opera Workshop 2016: Susannah by Carlisle Floyd

Long Reach Opera Workshop is now in its 3rd year. We are excited to announce that after two successful seasons, we are growing. Our 2016 workshop expands to three weeks in the heart of downtown Toronto as we stage the powerful opera Susannah by Carlisle Floyd.

LROW has added some wonderful new artists to the faculty. Linda Garneau joins us as movement coach. Our collaborative pianists/coaches are Jisca Wichers and Mélisande Sinsoulier. Derrick Rabethge returns as fight choreographer. And this year, we are thrilled to announce that LROW will culminate in two performances at the Walmer Centre Theatre.

LROW provides a comprehensive training experience for aspiring singer-actors wanting to further their skills over the summer. At LROW you be immersed in a supportive, challenging and fun environment with fellow singer-actors from across the country.

This year's program of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah is particularly special for us. We were both incredibly lucky to study with the great Phyllis Curtin, who premiered the title role. It will be with thoughts of Phyllis that we explore this wonderful piece with you.

Dr. Michael Donovan, Music Director
Anne-Marie Donovan, Stage Director

For more information, please visit the Long Reach Opera Workshop website:

Spring Awakening – Song & Script Review
Randolph Theatre's Spring Awakening:  A Glorious Hit

I've seen many plays and musicals performed by students and grads of the Randolph Academy of the Performing Arts (RAPA).  A year ago, their production of Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" was exceptional. But hands down its current presentation of the smash hit, 2007 Tony Award winning Broadway musical Spring Awakening is now my favorite.


The performers are students in their final year of professional training in RAPA's Triple Threat® college program.  They pour their hearts and souls into this glorious, gorgeous, passionate and highly energetic production.  They perform with such honesty, sincerity, and power that the opening night audience on Thursday immediately leapt to their feet, cheering and clapping and yelling Bravo before the final note of the show's beautiful finale The Song of Purple Summer had faded.


It's not effusive to say this production is one of the best of the current season… professional or amateur… especially in its emotionalism and extraordinary ability to engage an audience.  Your spirits are soaring when you leave the Randolph Theatre. Indeed, this production is every bit as inspiring and thrilling as the original 2006 Broadway incarnation and better than the touring company Mirvish Productions presented at the Pantages (now Mirvish) Theatre.

Standouts in the cast are the main lovers – the naïve Wendla Bergmann, played by a coquettish, Tom Boyish attitude and innocent tenderness by Barrie's Veronika Slowikowska and Jahlen Barnes as the intellectual, charismatic rebel  Melchior Gabor.  Veronika has a lovely voice and the seeds of a great performer in her subtle performance, especially as she portrays Wendla's growth from innocence to experience. (I found she has much more range than Lea Michele who created the role on Broadway.) Barnes has a rugged though sweet appeal and a beautiful voice. Another stand-out is Bailey Dalton as Isabel, who tries, sadly and frustratingly to help the tall and brooding Moritz Stiegel (Bradley Delarosbel) avoid his tragic fate.

Anne-Marie Donovan's direction and Linda Garneau's choreography is sexy, sensual and angry as they depict the characters' growing maturation from adolescence to adulthood complete with rebellion and, as the press release says, "an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality and rock & roll. The ensemble lets their fury fly, especially in numbers such as Totally F**ked where they stomp across the stage while shaking their bodies in defiance.  At times, this is as much of a rock concert as it is a musical, especially in the early number The Bitch of Living in which the chorus expresses its sexual frustration. Although the story is set in late-19th century Germany, the score's language is alternative “punk” rock fused with beautifully melodic, folk inspired ballads.

Lily Ling does a magnificent job on keyboards while leading the five-piece band.  She is also to credit for the performers' soaring, four-part harmony singing that, at times, give you goose bumps, especially in the finale. Scott Penner's costumes evoke the period while his set design impresses you the moment you walk in with its expansiveness.  Donovan uses it very well. If I have one criticism, it's that Donovan's reinvented staging does not go far enough, especially in the Act One finale "I Believe."  In the scene, Melchior seduces a reluctant, virginal Wendla. Whether or not she consents, is ambiguous. (If I recall the play on which the musical is based by the German Frank Wedekind, I think it's implied she is raped.) Donovan places the couple on a platform at centre stage, while the large chorus moves out into the audience and divides on either side behind the audience, singing in antiphony, almost chanting, repeatedly the words "I believe, I believe all will be forgiven.  I believe, I believe there is love in heaven." The scene ends as Wendla lies down and Melchior unbuttons her blouse.

The scene would have ended powerfully and beautifully had the couple remained standing and undressed each other, becoming naked and freed for their restrictive society as the lights went to black.  What stopped them, modesty?  Remember, the Randolph school presented "Hair" a few years go. The musical ends with the joyous, liberating "Song of Purple Summer," one of my favorites as the characters look forward to abandoning the uptight, conservative world of their ancestors in hope of a liberal, progressive society.  It's ironic as Germany history tells us it was not to be with what its political future has in store for its citizens.

“And all shall fade,” they sing,
“The bitterly sings / and opens purple summer / with the flutter of its wings.
“And all shall know the wonder of purple summer.”
The show's book and lyric writer Steven Aster explained the metaphor's meaning in his book A Purple Summer: Notes on the Lyrics of Spring Awakening: “For me, purple summer is the time of maturation – a time when the fields will yield crops and the horses bear foals again.  It's the time when the purple spring of adolescence reaches the maturity of summer.”

That certainly is true of the musical's characters. It is also true of these gifted performers, the graduating students of the Randolph Academy of Performing Arts and our future entertainers.

Ticket Information:
Tickets are $22.  Visit or call 1-855-985-2787.
The engagement lasts until Saturday, Aug. 8th at the Randolph Theatre which is located at 736 Bathurst Street in Toronto.
Spring Awakening's original cast recording featuring Lea Michele is available at Song and Script as is the show's songbook.
- Dennis Kucherawy

REVIEW : Sight, sound fuse in Ghost Tango
Powerful opera for voice, electric guitar, explores Argentina's brutal history

Elissa Barnard Arts Reporter
Published September 17, 2015 - 6:03pm

Janice Jackson and Ross Thompson rehearse their roles in Ghost TangoJanice Jackson and Ross Thompson rehearse their roles in Ghost Tango. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff)

Ghost Tango, a new opera for voice and electric guitar, is a powerful, disturbing, highly artful piece of theatre about a woman haunted by her past.Halifax soprano Janice Jackson plays a tormented Argentinian woman returning home on a cruise 20 years after she was tortured during the country's Dirty War. Her character, simply called The Woman, makes one reference to the mothers at the Plaza de Mayo seeking the Disappeared, their loved ones lost during the mid-1970s to 1983 era of state terrorism targeting left-wing guerrillas, dissidents and anyone adhering to socialism. Librettist Douglas Burnet Smith, a poet living in Antigonish and Argentina, wanted to give “voice to those who were silenced and ‘disappeared’ during Argentina's darkest time.”


This story does that in song and visceral, emotive imagery in three parts. The Woman meets her torturer on the ship just as it crashes and sinks. Rescued, she has to open the locked door of her memory. Finally, she must decide if she will forgive or kill her injured torturer. Whatever Jackson's character does — and her moment of indecision is an arresting, gorgeously lit, sculptural scene — one doubts she will ever be healed or at peace. Jackson goes deep into the darkness with her fantastic vocal control and impressive physicality for a chilling expression of a soul (and body) in anguish.

R.L. Thompson's robust, easy-gliding baritone as the confident, matter-of-fact character of The Man is a river running underneath Jackson's searing notes. If you think of Eric Clapton when you think of the electric guitar, Ghost Tango's guitar is a totally different beast. Montreal guitarist and Ghost Tango composer Tim Brady uses his well-honed language of electric guitar and electronic devices in foot pedals to create an entire soundscape — very intense and layered — with only a few melodic elements or percussive strumming. Smith's text is a masterful mix of the poetic and the mundane amplified by Lukas Pearse's innovative projections, ranging from abstractions of blood and stone to a spider with angel wings (it fits into the story, really) to animated dancing feet to blurred found Argentinian photographs. The show, directed with great attention to detail and with a choreographer's eye by Anne-Marie Donovan, will be of interest to a modern dance and visual arts audience. It has a dream design team of Leigh Vardy on lights, Carolena Charles on set and Arianne Pollet-Brannen on costumes that include a torn, stained, faded pink slip for the opera's most vivid section. Ghost Tango is an inspired, multi-layered art richly delving into the tragedy of human experience.

The Woman has survived to give voice to the voiceless.

The production, by Bradyworks and Vocalypse, runs Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; tickets are $25 at the Dalhousie Arts Centre box office.

May 25 - June 6, 2015

Downtown Toronto

Image of Brochure
Long Reach Opera Workshop places its focus squarely on the singer-actor. We work in an intimate, ensemble setting to develop rounded performers. As a workshop participant, you will have the opportunity to develop your stagecraft while immersing yourself in an opera role within an environment that is supportive, challenging and fun.

Together, we will explore: What is the work of a singer-actor? What is it to have performer energy? How do I build a role? What is it to share the stage with other performers? What is this opera about? Where does my character fit into the world of the opera?

Each day is divided into music rehearsals, piano coachings, staging rehearsals and ensemble training exercises. The workshop culminates in an informal presentation of the work-in-progress for invited guests.

2015 Program:
Act I of Street Scene by Kurt Weill

This large-ensemble stage work will allow each student to study a solo role. There is no chorus in this piece!

LRWO is an intimate, in-depth opera immersion. We focus on the performer – there is no big production. We apply the training directly to learning a role. We train rounded singer-actors. We create an environment that is supportive, challenging and fun.

For more information, visit or if you are interested in auditioning, please contact Michael Donovan at 416 537 9055 or at