Stage Door News

Toronto: Theaturtle presents “Charlotte: A Tri-Coloured Play with Music” June 1 before its international tour

Friday, May 3, 2019

After a premiere season in 2017 at the Luminato Festival and World Stage Design "Scenofest" in Taipei, Taiwan, Theaturtle's acclaimed Charlotte: A Tri-Coloured Play with Music will tour to Jaffa Fest in Tel Aviv, Israel, Theatre on Podol in Kiev, Ukraine, The National Theatre of the Czech Republic in Prague, and other significant European venues.

Prior to the tour, Toronto audiences will have one opportunity to see this genre-bending chamber musical gem based on the life and artwork of Charlotte Salomon as Theaturtle presents a public performance send-off on Saturday June 1 at 2pm at historic Hart House Theatre. Tickets are only $20 and are available online at and or by calling the box office at 416-978-2452.

Life? Or Theatre? is the name that Berlin-born Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon gave to a sequence of nearly 800 paintings accompanied by text and musical references that she produced between 1940-42. Before her deportation to Auschwitz at age 26, she handed the work to a local physician, with the message: "Take good care of this... it is my whole life." Miraculously, her extraordinary work survived.

Charlotte was a playwright without a stage, a graphic novelist before such a thing existed, a young woman struggling to claim her voice and affirm her existence. Through painting, text and music, she chronicled the inner life of a young woman coming of age during the rise of Nazism and under the shadow of family tragedies.

Charlotte: A Tri-Coloured Play with Music is a multi-national collaboration with a core creative team from Canada, UK, and Czech Republic. The essential quality of Theaturtle's vivid production is the total synchronicity of word, image, and music. It is conceived as an art installation inhabited by seven actor-singers and four musician-performers.

The libretto, by award-winning Canadian librettist, actor and Theaturtle Artistic Director Alon Nashman (Hirsch for the Stratford Festival, and numerous roles at Tarragon and Canadian Stage), conveys the absurdity and precocious romance that shaped Salomon's early life, alongside the feverish creativity of her years in exile. Acclaimed Czech composer Ales Brezina (frequent collaborator with Robert Wilson) has composed an original score essential to the soul-baring narrative. Director/Scenographer Pamela Howard, author of the seminal book What is Scenography? and recently named a 'living legend' by The Stage in the UK, paints the stage with colour and light such that audiences experience Charlotte's world being formed before their eyes.

This production features such talents as Dora-winning actor and singer/songwriter Shaina Silver-Baird (lead singer for electro-pop band Ghost Caravan, The Chasse Galerie for Kabin/Storefront Theatre at Soulpepper, Romeo & Juliet for Citadel Theatre), musical theatre star Tracy Michailidis (Kiss of the Spiderwoman at the Don Jail for Eclipse Theatre, Life After for Musical Stage Co., Fun Home U.S. National Tour), Greek-Canadian mezzo soprano Ariana Chris (Canadian Opera Company, Carnegie Hall), and Kaliegh Gorka (British Columbia's Chemainus Theatre Festival). Andrew Cohen (national tour of Saskatoon's Persephone Theatre's Game Show, creator of Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre's award-winning Circle Game), Chris Lucas (title role in Othello with Theatre Kraken, Avenue Q in London, UK) and David Ludwig (Stratford Festival, national tour of Phantom of the Opera) round out the acting ensemble. Musical direction is by Peter Tiefenbach (National Arts Centre, Elora Festival Singers, Toronto Operetta Theatre).

Theaturtle's presentation and tour of Charlotte: A Tri-Coloured Play with Music is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the Toronto Arts Council, and the Bulmash-Siegel Fund. Additional crowdsource funding is being sought through GoFundMe.

Theaturtle presents

Charlotte: A Tri-Coloured Play with Music

Saturday June 1 at 2pm at Hart House Theatre, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto
Tickets: $20available online at or or by calling the box office at 416-978-2452

Actors: Ariana Chris, Andrew Cohen, Kaliegh Gorka, Chris Lucas, David Ludwig, Tracy Michailidis, Shaina Silver-Baird

Musicians: Peter Tiefenbach (Keyboards), Michele Verheul (Clarinets),Kimberly Jeong (Cello), Ben Promane (Trumpets)

Creative and Production Team:

Ales Brezina - Composer

Alon Nashman - Librettist

Pamela Howard - Director / Scenographer

Peter Tiefenbach - Music Director

Patrick Lavender - Lighting Designer

Marie-Josée Chartier - Choreographer

Andrea Baggs - Stage Manager

Sarah Thorpe - Executive Producer

Valeriy Kostyuk - Associate Producer

About Theaturtle: Theaturtle was established in 1999 by Artistic Director Alon Nashman to create essential, ecstatic theatre that touches the earth and ignites the soul. Its name is derived from stories told in both Native Canadian and Jewish traditions that the world sits on the back of a turtle. We develop work slowly and carefully, plodding like the turtle, then glide into international waters to share our Canadian-made, physically and musically robust theatre.

Photo: Scene from Charlotte.