Stage Door News

Toronto: Canadian Stage’s Dream in High Park 2021 will include a wide range of in-person live performances

Thursday, May 6, 2021

With great hope for a return to live performance as vaccinations continue around the world and we contemplate slow, cautious steps towards a new normal, Canadian Stage is pleased to today unveil the details of a bold and inclusive approach to programming the High Park Amphitheatre for summer 2021, designed to build, strengthen, and restore community connection through the performing arts.

For the first full summer of live performance in the park since the pandemic began, Canadian Stage plans to present a diverse menu of core programming produced by the company, complemented by a robust line-up of partner presentations offering everything from theatre and dance to contemporary and classical music, comedy, family programming and more. Extending the summer High Park season from June through to the end of September, this year the beloved High Park Amphitheatre will feature months of non-stop performance offerings to a culture starved city.

Returning to the inaugural moniker of the company’s summer programming – Dream in High Park –­ Artistic Director Brendan Healy and Executive Director Monica Esteves sought to expand a beloved Toronto cultural program to be collaborative, multi-disciplinary and one that meaningfully reflects and welcomes Toronto’s multiplicity of communities.

This summer brings us to a critical moment for arts and culture in this city,” says Canadian Stage Artistic Director Brendan Healy. “We hope to be entering a period of recovery and healing from the pandemic. We are all feeling tentative and yet are yearning for art and connection. What we wanted to do with High Park this summer is share it - share it in a way that meaningfully takes action on commitments we have made in the last two years and share it in a way that facilitates the beginning of this recovery period ­–not just for us but for the community at large. The result, we believe, will be a really thrilling and inspiring summer season that will offer something for everyone.”

The 2021 summer season was equally designed in response to extensive audience, artist, and community consultation, which uncovered repeated expressions of interest in more programming options in the park– programming as distinct and multi-faceted as the city itself. 

The safety demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the cultural sector are also at the forefront of the Dream in High Park plan. Recognizing that the High Park Amphitheatre is one of Toronto’s few dedicated outdoor performing arts venues with gated entry, ample space for physical distancing, and capacity to meet all required health and safety protocols, Canadian Stage undertook extensive community outreach in the winter months to identify groups seeking outdoor performance space, resulting in the inclusion of 19 arts and community partners this summer.

We have access to something that is so special in this city,” adds Executive Director Monica Esteves. “Canadian Stage has been presenting theatre in High Park for almost 40 years – it has been and continues to be one of the must-do experiences of the summer. The High Park Amphitheatre is often one of the first places new Torontonians experience theatre in the city, and they bring their kids, those kids bring their kids – it is a generational experience.  To share this special space and collaborate with so many incredible organizations, of all sizes and forms, has been a delight.” 

While Ontario is still in lockdown at this time, Canadian Stage and its partners are optimistic that the lockdown measures and vaccination roll-out will enable Dream performances to begin in June, as scheduled.  Tickets for Dream in High Park performances will go on sale once outdoor performances are permitted to resume.  “Torontonians are living through an incredibly long and challenging period of isolation. Many are deeply yearning for art and for opportunities to safely connect and share space with community,” adds Esteves.  “When the time is right, Canadian Stage will be ready to provide these opportunities…with optimism for a June launch.” 



Keeping our community safe means that the Dream experience will be different than prior years. Central to theDream in High Park plans are rigorous health and safety protocols that build on the experience from 2020 when Canadian Stage tested outdoor performance COVID-19 safety procedures with Dance in High Park.

The amphitheatre normally accommodates a capacity of 1,000+ guests. In 2021, the amphitheatre will welcome up to 100 patrons in physically distanced groups of one to four people from the same household. Capacity may fluctuate in response to public health guidelines.

Performances and events will generally be less than 90 minutes in length. Safety measures to be enacted in the park include a masking requirement, sanitization stations and protocols, timed entry to ensure physical distancing, as well as on-site health screening for entry, and dedicated safety officers. All precautions will be taken, and protocols strictly observed, ensuring audiences and artists are safe and feel completely comfortable while enjoying their High Park experience. 

Canadian Stage has been awarded the Safe Travels Stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council.  This international symbol is designed to allow travellers to recognize companies around the world which have adopted health and hygiene safety measures that ensure customers experiences are safe.



The 2021 summer season returns to the title programming originally launched in 1983 under Dream in High Park.

The name really encapsulates the fundamental spirit of the park,” comments Healy. “The amphitheatre is a space for our city’s imagination and dreams: a space where stories come to life and a space where we get to dream up worlds together while surrounded by this stunning natural environment.”


A Canadian Stage and Lula Music & Arts Presentation
Lula Music brings the sound of Lula Lounge and their annual Lulaworld festival to the beauty of High Park with performances by local Latinx, Brazilian, Caribbean, and Indigenous artists. 

25 FOR 25 (July 1 – 3, 8:00pm)
Small World Music in association with Canadian Stage
Celebrate Canada Day weekend and the launch of Small World's 25th Anniversary festivities with three evenings of the finest culturally diverse sounds from around the globe and around the corner.

Presented by Canadian Stage
In celebration of the first Tibetan Heritage Month in Ontario and the fifth year since its inception, Made in Exile will be screening short films created by emerging filmmakers from their 2020-21 Made in Exile x Charles Street Video’s Film Intensive Program. Canadian Stage is hosting this event to celebrate and showcase Made in Exile’s work in the community to date. We invite you to celebrate this historic month by witnessing the work of young emerging Tibetan artists.

FOREST DREAMS (July 5 – 10)
Canadian Stage welcomes Theatre Direct
Using High Park as inspiration, this week-long creation workshop for children will explore nature myths and stories through the magic of theatre. At the end of the week the children will perform their creation, Forest Dreams, at the High Park Amphitheatre for an invited audience of friends and family.

BAT NIGHT (July 6, 8:30pm, August 3, 8:00pm, September 14, 7:00pm)
Canadian Stage presents High Park Nature Centre
High Park Nature Centre comes to the Amphitheatre for a 30-minute interactive presentation where they’ll cover all things bat - behaviour, habitat and favourite foods.  Audiences will then leave the Amphitheatre and explore High Park's trails using hand-held bat detectors and, if lucky, may even hear the bats' ultrasonic calls as they swoop and loop during their evening, mid-air forage and spot their silhouettes.

STORY FUSION CABARET! (July 7, 8:00pm)
STORYTENT (August 21 – 22, 10:00am)
Storytelling Toronto in partnership with Canadian Stage
Toronto’s hub for all story enthusiasts, Storytelling Toronto, will take over the Amphitheatre twice this summer with two unique programs.
Enjoy some of the city’s finest dream weavers, when Storytelling Toronto presents, Story Fusion Cabaret!’s Making Images with Words, hosted by CBC’s Ali Hassan. Then it’s StoryTent, the family-friendly program led by the exuberant host, Donna Dudinsky.

Tafelmusik in association with Canadian Stage
Experience the beauty of music of the past with these intimate chamber concerts featuring two or three members of Tafelmusik orchestra. Presented in an informal style with introductions from the musicians, a different program will be offered each night.

BOX CONCERTS (July 10 – 11 & 17 – 18, 3:00 & 4:30pm)
Tapestry Opera in partnership with Canadian Stage
Tapestry Opera’s joyful travelling pop-up stage returns with a brand-new show for 2021. Tenor Asitha Tennekoon performs your favourites from opera and musical theatre together with new songs, to tell a magical story of connection and belonging.

Toronto Outdoor Picture Show in partnership with Canadian Stage
Dedicated to sharing high quality, diverse, and engaging outdoor film programming with communities across Toronto, Toronto Outdoor Picture Show will present a one-night-only secret screening in the Canadian Stage High Park Amphitheatre, signaling the kick-off to the festival's 2021 summer season.

STAND-UP COMEDY (July 12, 7:00 & 9:00pm)
In partnership with Canadian Stage
Under the open skies of the High Park Amphitheatre you’ll find local, renowned comedians emerge with fresh stand-up comedy. Join them for an evening of laughs and storytelling, in partnership with Canadian Stage.

MAGGIE & ME: A Healing Dance (July 15 – 18, 8:00pm)
A Friday Creeations Production in partnership with Native Earth Performing Arts, presented by Canadian Stage
Created and choreographed by Indigenous artist Christine Friday, Maggie & Me explores community, family, history, and the power of a healing dance as moments weave through the dream realm, spirit realm, and present realm.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS (July 17 – 18, 9:30 & 11:00am)
Roseneath Theatre in partnership with Canadian Stage
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls
follows the story of 9-year-old Fiona who comes out as a boy and wants to be called Fin. Fin has always had this feeling – knowing something is different but not knowing what it was or how to say it. As Fin cuts his hair short and changes his name, his family works to understand and adjust to Fin’s gender identity. Dad is accepting of the change right away, but Mom doesn’t quite get it at first. Always from a place of good intentions, we see Fin’s family struggle with this change and through the course of the play ultimately begin to accept and embrace Fin for who he is.
Suitable for ages 9 – 14.

BLACKOUT (July 23 – August 15, 8:00pm)
A Musical Stage Company production in association with Canadian Stage
Originally slated for premiere as part of the 2020-21 season, The Musical Stage Company’s BLACKOUT will premiere under the stars on the High Park Amphitheatre stage.? Set on the evening of the northeast blackout of 2003, this thrilling new work depicts three stories of connection that unfolded when the city was dark, and strangers banded together to find the light. A new Canadian musical by two of Canada’s most exciting voices –Anton Lipovetsky and Steven Gallagher – BLACKOUT is a story of hope, resilience, and community. 

NOWHEN (August 5 – 15, 3:00pm)
A Canadian Stage Production in collaboration with The Department of Theatre, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design at York University, presented in partnership with SummerWorks
Created and directed by Alison Wong, nowhen is a collaborative creation reflecting one's connection to place dramatizing seven stories that weave across High Park before converging in the Amphitheatre for a collective experience.

dance Immersion & Canadian Stage: Curatorial and Presenting Partners
Canadian Stage partners with dance Immersion – a company dedicated to producing, promoting, and supporting dancers and dances of the African Diaspora – on a new work to be choreographed and performed by Casimiro Nhussi and Pulga Muchochoma.

IS MY MICROPHONE ON? (September 2 – 19, 7:30pm)
A Canadian Stage Production
By Jordan Tannahill, directed by Erin Brubacher
This generation will no longer be able to avoid the consequences of climate change. In this Canadian premiere of Governor General’s Award-winner Jordan Tannahill’s newest play, a group of young people speak directly to the adults in the audience, holding them to account, questioning the choices that have not been made, the ones that children will be forced to make, and what kind of future they stand to inherit.
The creative team, led by director Erin Brubacher, supports a chorus of people aged 12 – 17 in turning the theatre into a site of intergenerational reckoning. Urgent, moving, and confrontational, Is My Microphone On? is both a declaration of war and a declaration of love.

Canadian Stage presents Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers and Toronto Taiko Festival
Make some noise for this showcase of incredible Pan-Asian drumming groups, womxn drumming groups, qtbipoc drumming groups and others.

AN EVENING WITH JEREMY DUTCHER (September 6 – 8, 8:00pm)
Presented by Canadian Stage
Polaris Prize-winning performer, composer, activist, and musicologist Jeremy Dutcher comes to the High Park Amphitheatre for three intimate concerts.  A member of Tobique First Nation of New Brunswick and trained in the western operatic tradition, Dutcher’s music playfully integrates classical influences into traditional songs of his Wolastoqiyik Nation people. An intimate evening under the stars, this will be a rare opportunity to commune with one of the most exciting and essential artists in the country.

inTO FOCUS (September 23 – 25, 7:00pm)
dance: made in canada/fait au canada Festival in partnership with Canadian Stage
Canada’s biennial contemporary dance festival, dance: made in canada/fait au canada, will present inTO Focus, a dynamic mixed program featuring five Toronto-based contemporary dance artists.



Tickets for Dream in High Park performances will go on sale once outdoor performances are permitted to resume. Ticket prices will vary based on production and performance.  For many performances, some advance tickets will be available for purchase at set prices however the majority of tickets will continue to be offered on a Pay-What-You-Wish basis.   At noon, two days prior to each performance, at least 50% of ticket capacity will become available at PWYW and a limited number of those tickets will be available in-person starting 45 minutes prior to the performance to accommodate cash sales. Advertised ticket prices include applicable fees and HST.


Photo: Stage of Amphitheatre in High Park. © 2014 David Hou.