Stage Door News

Toronto: Young People’s Theatre presents a stage adaptation of Chris Hadfield’s “The Darkest Dark” February 20-April 2

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

A groundbreaking adaptation of Commander Chris Hadfield’s internationally bestselling children’s book, The Darkest Dark, is set to take flight at Young People’s Theatre (YPT) this February. In this highly anticipated world premiere, director Jim Millan (Broadway’s record-breaking The Illusionists), writer Ian MacIntyre (The Beaverton, Degrassi: Next Class) and world renowned illusionist David Ben weave multi-media and magic in an out-of-this-world theatrical experience. Featuring a cast that includes Aurora Browne (CBC’s Baroness von Sketch Show, director of YPT’s Snow White) and Craig Lauzon (CBC’s Royal Canadian Air Farce), The Darkest Dark is presented on the Ada Slaight Stage Feb. 20 – Apr. 2, 2023.

Inspired by a true story, The Darkest Dark is set at the Hadfield Family cottage on Stag Island, Ontario in the summer of 1969. Apollo 11 is just days away from landing on the moon. A nine-year-old space-loving Chris (played by Ziska Louis) spends his days dreaming of becoming a brave astronaut. But at bedtime, the night closes in and so too does his fear of the dark, wreaking havoc on the sleep schedules of Mom (Browne) and Dad (Lauzon). For Chris, watching history in the making hinges on conquering his fear – and embracing the unknown.

“The creation of The Darkest Dark has been another challenging journey in my life,” says Commander Hadfield. “Jim [Millan]’s thirty years of creating incredible theatre and expertise in the world of magic will provide the perfect vehicle to envelop audiences. As Canada’s premier theatre for young audiences, YPT offers over half a century of expertise in arts and education. The commitment the company shows to child development through the arts gives me confidence that The Darkest Dark will be in safe – and extraordinary – hands.”

In this sensory-rich production, audiences journey alongside young Chris as he battles his very real fear. “Every child knows what it feels like to be afraid of something,” says Artistic Director Herbie Barnes. “This story illustrates that bravery is not the absence of fear, but rather, our ability to overcome it.”

A Junior Library Guild selection, and named one of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s “Best Books for Kids & Teens” in 2019, Hadfield’s The Darkest Dark has been inspiring children all over the world since its publication in 2016. “The Darkest Dark soars as an inspiration for children trying to overcome a fear as well as dreamers wondering if they will triumph. Of course, the lesson here is ageless.” – The Observer.

The Darkest Dark reveals a universe where anything is possible, says Director Jim Millan. “Chris’s imaginary trips to space are a surprising, hilarious and awe-inspiring adventure,” he says. “His journey to overcome all his fears and worries is fueled with the same determination and hopefulness he has taught millions through sharing his deep love of space.”

More than five years in the making, The Darkest Dark development process has been supported by The National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund. This investment offered YPT an unprecedented opportunity to explore and pilot the integration of magic and illusion into this world premiere theatrical event.

The Darkest Dark cast also features Hannah Forest Briand, Xavier Lopez, Shaquille Pottinger and Evelyn Wiebe. Additional credits include: Set & Costume Designer: Anna Treusch; Lighting Designer: Bonnie Beecher; Sound Designer: Deanna Choi; Video Designer: Daniele Guevara; Apprentice Set & Costume Designer: Joyce Padua; Assistant Sound Designer: River Oliveira; Magic Consultant: David Ben; Dramaturgy: Herbie Barnes, Stephen Colella and Allen MacInnis; Auntie-in-Residence: Kelly Brownbill; Stage Manager: Laura Baxter; Assistant Stage Manager: Troy Taylor.

World Premiere of


Based on Commander Chris Hadfield’s

Bestselling Children’s Book

Adapted for the stage by Jim Millan and Ian MacIntyre

Directed by Jim Millan

Feb. 20 – Apr. 2, 2023

Public Performances:

Saturdays: Feb. 25 & March 11 at 2:00PM & 7:00PM | Mar. 4 at 1:00PM | Mar. 18, 25 & Apr. 1 at 1:00PM & 4:00PM

Sundays: Feb. 26, Mar. 26 & Apr. 2 at 2:00PM | Mar. 5 & 12 at 1:00PM & 4:00PM

March Break: Mar. 14 & 16 at 1:00PM & 4:00PM | Mar. 15 & 17 at 1:00PM

Recommended for ages 6+

Tickets: $10-$45 (plus HST & service charges)

Purchase Online:

Box Office: 416.862.2222