Stage Door News

Stratford: The “topping off” ceremony for the new Tom Patterson Theatre occurred today

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Stratford Festival celebrated a crowning moment at the new Tom Patterson Theatre Centre on Wednesday. Major donors, Board members and government officials gathered together for the first time in the new facility for a “topping off ceremony” – the placement of the final beam that will support the roof over the new auditorium.

“With the placing of this beam today, the bones of the building are complete,” said Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “What is now a shell can begin turning into a room: a place for creative imagination.”

Central to the topping off ceremony was the signing of the beam by Board members, government officials, members of Hariri Pontarini Architects, Ellis Don construction and the Festival’s fundraising team, and major donors, including Claire Foerster and Dan Bernstein, who were lead donors to the project, giving $10 million to the Spirit of the Tent Campaign. Lead donor and campaign co-chair Ophelia Lazaridis, who also donated $10 million, was unable to attend, but her name was added to the beam.

Kate Young, Parliamentary Secretary and MP for London West, spoke on behalf of Hon.Francois-Philippe Champagne, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. Also speaking was Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton. The federal and provincial governments have invested $20 million each in the project.

Among those placing their signatures were Board Chair Sylvia Chrominska, Vice-Chair Carol Stephenson, Past Chair of the Board and Co-Chair of the Spirit of the Tent Campaign Dr. M. Lee Myers, Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson, Perth-Wellington MPPRandy Pettapiece, Architect Siamak Hariri, Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino and Executive Director Anita Gaffney

“The inspiration for the design of this new building came from the work that it will enable and the environment that surrounds it,” said Gaffney. “Architect Siamak Hariri brought us a stunning design that is taking shape before our eyes.”

The group gathered in the space that will become the new Tom Patterson auditorium. Combining state-of-the-art amenities with all of the intimacy of the predecessor on which it is modelled, it will be what Cimolino and Hariri describe as the best theatre room in North America. 

Construction of the new theatre centre has made great strides and continues apace, “on schedule and on budget,” as Hariri noted during his remarks. He spoke with great feeling about the experience of creating a building in such a tight-knit community, where his work can have such meaningful impact. 

The theatre has been designed not simply to overlook the Avon River, but to mirror its beauty and to bring its essence into the building itself. Each of the centre’s main pods will be complemented by extensive gardens to further enhance the natural setting.

Construction of the glass and bronze curtain wall that will surround the building is now underway and the project is on track for a spring 2020 opening.

The Stratford Festival launched its 67th season this past Monday and is currently enjoying a week of opening nights, with gala performances of Othello, Billy Elliot the Musical, Henry VIII, Private Lives, Little Shop of Horrors and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Opening in June are Mother’s Daughter, The Neverending Story and Nathan the Wise. In August the season will be in full swing with the openings of Birds of a Kind, The Front Page and The Crucible. For tickets and more information visit or call the box office at 1.800.567.1600.

Photo: Architect Siamak Hariri and the frame of the new Tom Patterson Theatre. © 2019 Scott Wishart.