Arts & EntertainmentFeature

Markham Theatre promises something for everyone

With its 23/24 Diamond Season coming to a close, rather than counting its many successes, The Flato Markham Theatre has just announced an impressive lineup of top-shelf entertainment for its 2024/25 season.

“We’re bringing an amazing array of artists and performers to Markham’s doorstep,” says acting general manager Scott Hill. “We really can’t wait!”

The 2024/25 Diamond Season features some faces familiar to Markham audiences but also lots of great artists in town for the first time.

From its expanding family entertainment series to a knockout jazz lineup, Hill and his team have stacked the season. Performances range from world music to rock, ballet and modern dance to world-class comedy.

“Actually, our family and special attraction series this year is spectacular,” explains Hill. “We’ve been working on it for a while, and this season is our best yet.”

With a whopping eight events on the schedule, the family series is bursting with variety and fun. Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock Live (March 8), and Broadway’s Gazillion Bubble Show (Jan. 2-5) are probably the most eye-catching titles, but there’s much more as well. Don’t miss the varied takes on circus performance, Machine de Cirque La Galerie (Oct. 17) and Cirque Kalabanté: Afrique en Cirque (April 6), through the lenses of visual art and West African culture respectively; or the unexplained, Outerbridge Magic Mysteries of the Keyhole House (Oct. 26) and Mike D’Urzo: Mind Kontrol (March 1).

“I know I remember the first shows I saw with my family,” says Hill. “These memories are forever and the experience of the arts is so important for young people; so we want to help families make this a reality as much as we can.”

The season also includes some extremely well-regarded performers from a variety of communities. Rhythm of the Dance bring their 25th Anniversary tour to town (March 15); Holly Cole comes to Markham with her Swinging Christmas show (Dec. 6); The legendary Fabulous Thunderbirds celebrate 50 years on the road (Oct. 24); the much-loved Choir! Choir! Choir! ask the audience to sing along with We Will Choir! You: An EPIC Queen Sing-Along! (Feb. 28); and even Canada’s favourite musical barfly and master guitarist David Wilcox takes his turn onstage at the Theatre (April 26).

“Our audience favourites will be with us as always too,” says Hill.”Classic Albums Live, Ballet Jorgen’s Nutcracker (Dec. 30-31), Pavlo & John McDermott together for Christmas (Dec. 14), and Brass Transit (Jan. 24) are all back.”

Classic Albums Live are actually bringing two shows to Markham this season. The group presents Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon (Dec. 5) and Eagles’ Greatest Hits (March 7).

Building on the success of the past few season’s inclusion of artist tributes that exceed expectations, the upcoming season features modern crooner Matt Dusk taking on the legendary catalogue of Tony Bennett (Nov. 1) and Jeans ‘n Classics return with their take on UK legends The Who and Led Zeppelin (April 25) which promises a full orchestra as well as a top-notch band.

One series that has been growing strong for many years is the jazz music lineup and this year is no exception. The Hot Sardines come to town (Oct. 5); Michael Kaeshammer promises to find The Spirit of Christmas (Nov. 23); Omar Sosa & Seckou Keita SUBA Trio
featuring Gustavo Ovalles perform (Jan. 25); Caity Gyorgy invites us on a sonic journey (Feb. 1) while The Cookers (April 5) bring a combined 250 years of performance experience.

It might seem like the whole world is coming to perform, but there will be many great Canadians on the theatre stage in the coming season as well. Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy: A Celtic Family Christmas (Dec. 18) is sure to feel like home while four of Canada’s preeminent musical theatre voices sing Any Dream Will Do: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber (Oct. 4).

Canadians reign when it comes to comedy too with Elvira Kurt’s Girls Night Out (Oct. 18) and Hyprov (Jan. 31) which brings improv legend Colin Mochrie with it. Canadian production Just for Laughs Roadshow also returns (April 24).

In addition to the familiar names and returning faces above, there’s a season with many more performances to consider.

Lovers of choral music should be sure to look for The Tallis Scholars (Dec. 12) while lovers of Gershwin will want to see Rhapsody In Blue: A Gershwin Celebration (Nov. 14).

World Music is also well represented with The Red Hot Chili Pipers (April 4), Yamato:
The Power of Human Strength (Jan. 17), and ukulele master Jake Shimabukuro (Jan. 30) while dance fans aren’t left out either with Social Tango (Nov. 15) and ProArteDanza The 9th! (Feb. 7).

The Diamond Season program offers a variety of subscription offerings for patrons and the more shows you buy, the more you save. True to Hill’s commitment to families, the theatre also offers $15 tickets to young people throughout the season.

“And this year our Every Child, Every Year program is back to full strength,” explains Hill “We are offering the same number of shows to thousands of Markham school kids for free as we did before the pandemic.”

Community presenters will also be back at the theatre this year. Markham Little Theatre, Unionville Theatre Company, Markham Concert Band, Kindred Spirits Orchestra, and Markham at the Movies will all be back to share their passion and art this season.

“Live performance matters,” says Hill. “I think we all learned this collectively as a community and around the world in 2020. It’s not the same when we’re not together. Sharing the experience of great performances together is massively important to us. We just can’t wait to see our audience again.”

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