Stage Door News

Toronto: “The Ward Cabaret” hits Harbourfront Centre December 12-22

Monday, December 2, 2019

Just in time for the holiday season, The Ward Cabaret, a sold-out hit at last year's Luminato Festival, is set to heat up Harbourfront Centre Theatre from December 12-22


Presented by David Buchbinder/DB Works in association with Small World Music Society and Harbourfront Centre, the first full production of this lauded musical and theatrical experience brings together musical influences and sounds from around the globe with a distinctly Toronto twist as it reimagines the vibrant music and stories of a community that was the first home for many Canadians.

From the 1840s until the Second World War, 'The Ward' was a place where Jewish, Chinese, African-American and Italian immigrants, among others, lived and struggled - an area loosely bordered by College and Queen, University and Yonge Streets- and was the seeding ground for this city's cultural diversity.

This dense corner of the city was home to waves of immigrants for over a century; they settled there, and started businesses and religious institutions there. When these newcomers came to Toronto, they brought with them great cultural treasures: their rich and deep traditions of stories, music, and song. The Ward Cabaret conjures the pulsating sounds and stories of Toronto's first multicultural neighbourhood.

Juno-winning, Grammy-nominated musician and producer David Buchbinder Artistic Director and Producer of the project  - helms a collaborative team of award-winning musicians, singers and actors that mirrors the diversity of the Ward.

Theatre Passe Muraille's Artistic Director Marjorie Chan is the writer for The Ward Cabaret and acclaimed theatre director Leah Cherniak (co-founder of award-winning Theatre Columbus where she performed in and directed most of the company's repertoire including the infamous The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine) co-directs.

Double threat actor/singers Aviva Chernick, Cara Krisman, Derek Kwan, Kaisha Lee, Mitch Smolkin and Jeremiah Sparks are joined onstage by musicians David Buchbinder, Jacob Gorzhaltsan, Michael Occhipinti, Zi Wen Qin (Cynthia) and Louis Simão.

Rounding out the production team are choreographer Monica Dottor and designers Simon Rossiter (lighting) and Victoria Wallace (costumes).

This theatre-music event propels audiences into the extraordinary sounds and stories of The Ward - where street hawkers, organ grinders and itinerant musicians co-mingle with the heavenly strains of a choir spilling out of the open windows of the African Methodist Church; where the Eastern modes of Goel Tzedec Synagogue's cantor co-mingle with opera of both the Italian and Cantonese kind; where blues and jazz rolls into the street from a basement speakeasy and vaudeville performers tread the boards at Shea's Hippodrome. Welcome to The Ward - 'crowded, dirty, dangerous... and full of life!'

Of the original work-in-progress, CBC Radio's Errol Nazareth of Big City Small World declared: "The beautifully told story of a 'hood many Torontonians are probably unaware of. Impressive."

The Ward Cabaret
was inspired by the book The Ward (Coach House Press), edited by Executive Producers John Lorinc and Michael McClelland along with Ellen Scheinberg and Tatum Taylor. It shares the key to the sound, "vibration" and meaning of a time and place that holds the secret of what Toronto has become: the most diverse city on the planet. 

The Ward Cabaret

A musical and theatrical re-imagination of the vibrant soundsof Toronto's first cross-cultural community

presented by DavidBuchbinder/DB Worksin association with SmallWorld Music Society and Harbourfront Centre

December 12 - 22, 2019 Tuesday-Sunday at 8 pm except for December 22 which has a 2 p.m. matinee

Harbourfront Centre Theatre, 231 Queens Quay West

For tickets, call the Harbourfront Centre box office at 416-973-4000 

or visit the website at Wardcabaret  (

Tickets range from $30 - $60 with discounts for students, groups and arts workers

Social Media:   @TheWardCabaret #WeAreTheWard