Robert McQuuen. Photo by Dahlia Katz (2018)

Launch Pad

LAUNCH PAD is an innovative new program that makes a strategic investment in leading Canadian musical theatre writers and collaborators. LAUNCH PAD is a new collaboration between The Musical Stage Company and commercial producers Yonge Street Theatricals.

Each year for two years, LAUNCH PAD will offer a 10-month residency in which musical theatre composers, lyricists and bookwriters navigate a full developmental process, shepherding 30-minute musicals from conception to production with guidance from skilled creative teams and internationally renowned mentors. 

2018-19 Cohort

2018-19 Cohort

The inaugural cohort of composers, lyricists, bookwriters, directors and musical directors who participated in the first year include: Colleen Dauncey (composer), Ellen Denny (bookwriter), Tracey Flye (director), Steven Gallagher (bookwriter), Nick Green (bookwriter), Wayne Gwillim (music supervisor/ musical director), Shelley Hanson (music supervisor/ musical director), Ann Hodges (director), Anika Johnson (composer/lyricist), Barbara Johnston (composer/lyricist), Anton Lipovetsky (composer/lyricist), Akiva Romer-Segal (lyricist), Adam Sakiyama (music supervisor/ musical director), and Lezlie Wade (director). New York-based Music Supervisor Lynne Shankel and veteran dramaturge/director Robert McQueen join Launch Pad as Program Directors.

The cohort of artists for the 2019-20 LAUNCH PAD will be announced in 2019.

About the Artists

About the Artists

Colleen Dauncey and Akiva Romer Segal (Composer and Lyricist)

Colleen Dauncey (Music) and Akiva Romer-Segal (Lyrics) have written the scores to Bremen Rock City, Going Under, Rumspringa Break! and Prom Queen (2016 New Musical Award – Playwrights Guild of Canada). Their work has been featured in the NAMT Festival of New Musicals, Cutting-Edge Composers (54 Below, NYC), Blame Canada (International), and Touch Me: Songs for a (dis)Connected Age (Theatre Calgary, Betty Mitchell nominations). They are alumni of the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project (Chicago), the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals (Connecticut), Sheridan College’s Canadian Music Theatre Project, The Musical Stage Company’s NoteWorthy, and Theatre 20’s Composium.

Ellen Denny (Bookwriter)

Ellen is a writer and performer with two plays in development. Wonder – a historical drama about Harriet Brooks, Canada’s first female nuclear physicist – is being workshopped in February 2019. Pleasureville, a contemporary comedy about a city gal opening a small town sex shop, will premiere in fall 2019. As an actor, Ellen has appeared on stages across Canada. Her portrayal of Alice in Life After (Musical Stage/ Canadian Stage/Yonge Street Theatricals) earned her a Dora nomination and a passion for new musical development. She is thrilled to participate in both NoteWorthy and Launch Pad this season with Musical Stage.

Tracey Flye (Director)

Tracey is one of Canada’s busiest and most respected directors and choreographers with credits that span over 180 productions internationally. Selected credits include: We Will Rock You (Toronto, South Africa, Asia, US National/Broadway tour), ONCE (The Grand Theatre/RMTC), Million Dollar Quartet (Charlottetown Festival), West Side Story (Rainbow Stage), Evita (Vancouver Opera), Buyer & Cellar, Venus in Fur (ATP), Cabaret, Billy Elliot, Jane Eyre, The Penelopiad, The 39 Steps (RMTC), Kiss Me Kate and Evita for the Stratford Festival. Tracey continues her 17-year association with Ross Petty Productions and their Annual Toronto tradition of the Christmas Panto.

Steven Gallagher (Bookwriter)

Steven is a writer, actor and director based in Toronto. His award-winning play, Stealing Sam, made its American premiere in 2014 where it won Best Drama at the United Solo Festival in New York. Pollyanna, written with Linda Barnett, was shortlisted for Playwrights Guild of Canada best new musical. Drama 101, written with Kevin Wong, premiered in Toronto in June 2017. His musical, The Last Party, written with Nicky Phillips, premiered at the Toronto Fringe in 2018. He is the recipient of a 2013 Harold Award. 

Nick Green (Bookwriter)

Nick is a Dora and Sterling Award-winning playwright. Recent credits include In Real Life (book and co-lyrics, CMTP); Dinner with the Duchess (Next Stage 2019); Body Politic (Buddies in Bad Times/lemonTree; Dora award – Outstanding New Play); and Poof! The Musical (book and lyrics, Capitol Theatre; Sterling Award nomination – Outstanding New Work).

Wayne Gwillim (Music Supervisor/Musical Director)

Wayne Gwillim works as a conductor, keyboardist, programmer, copyist, and arranger. Credits include Mirvish Productions, Teatro Proscenium, Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, Charlottetown Festival, Disney Cruise Lines, The Musical Stage Company. Originally from Saskatchewan, Wayne is a graduate of University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music.

Shelley Hanson (Music Supervisor/ Musical Director)

Widely respected as a music director, conductor, keyboardist, and aspiring sous-chef. Favourite credits: Grey Gardens (The Musical Stage Company), Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard (Livent), National Ballet of Canada, Chantal Kreviazuk In Concert. Also: Bakkhai, Crazy For You, Fiddler On The Roof (Stratford). U.S. national tours: The Lion King, Rent, Show Boat, Ragtime (Chicago).

Ann Hodges (Director)

Ann directed Grey Gardens for The Musical Stage Company (2016). She directs plays, musicals and operas across Canada including at The Citadel Theatre, Charlottetown Festival, Blyth Festival, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, Great Canadian Theatre Company, Rainbow Stage, Sheridan, Prairie Theatre Exchange, and Vancouver Opera.  Ann has a passion for developing new works and is thrilled to be part of LAUNCH PAD.

Anika Johnson & Barbara Johnston (Composers/Lyricists)

Johnson and Johnston (no relation) are a Dora Award-winning team of writer/director/performers who collaborate in many ways, most recently on Dr. Silver: A Celebration of Life which Anika wrote (with her sister Britta) and Barb developed from its origin as choreographer and assistant director. Shared writing credits include Blood TiesSummerland, and One Small Step; Anika and Barb can also be seen together on stage in Toronto and internationally as Sporty and Ginger in Wannabe: The Spice Girls Tribute Band.

Anton Lipovetsky (Composer/Lyricist)

Anton is a composer and performer based in Vancouver. His composition credits include Elbow Room Cafe (ZeeZee), Best Laid Plans (Touchstone/Patrick Street), cool beans (Solo Collective), Broken Sex Doll (Virtual Stage/Jessie Award) and FLOP! (Delinquent). He is a graduate of the Stratford Birmingham Conservatory and Studio 58.

Adam Sakiyama (Music Supervisor / Musical Director)

For The Musical Stage Company: Dr. Silver: A Celebration of Life (Accompanist/Conductor/Apprentice Musical Director). Select theatre credits: Music Director – Polly Peel (Toronto Fringe); Clouds Over TO! (Guild Festival Theatre); Composer – In Between (National Ballet of Canada); Exterminating Angel (Alysa Pires Dance Projects); Quench (Axon Interactive); Robin Hood (Annex Children’s Theatre). Additional credits: Lead Producer & Arranger for Super Simple Songs, one of the most watched educational YouTube channels.

Lezlie Wade (Director)

Six seasons at the Stratford Festival where she recently directed An Ideal Husband and H.M.S. Pinafore. Two seasons at the Shaw Festival directing The Twelve Pound Look and The Yalta Game (Director’s Project). Other directing credits include: Elegies and A Man of No Importance– The Musical Stage Company, Dream A Little Dream – The Grand Theatre.

August 2019 Performance

August 2019 Performance

The triptych of one-act musicals premiered in August 2019 on the 17th floor of The Globe and Mail Centre set against a stunning downtown Toronto backdrop in a public presentation produced in association with The Globe and Mail. In the 10 months leading up to the production, participants navigated all of the complex milestones of a full musical developmental process, including multiple workshops and a rehearsal process, incorporating over 20 artist-collaborators including directors, musical directors, arrangers, copyists, actors, and musicians. As part of the program, internationally recognized producers and presenters were invited to attend the final production followed by feedback and networking sessions with participating artists. The final pieces have been recorded and disseminated globally via podcast.

Find out more about our August 2019 production here

Launch Pad Program Sponsor:
BMO Financial GroupLaunch Pad Leading Lights:

William J.S. Boyle C.M., Di Bartolomeo,
Di Lorenzo-Graham Foundation and Lucy White