The first stumbling steps in the life of Sudbury Theatre Centre were the direct result of The Awkward Stage, a book that reported the findings of a 1967 theatre study funded by the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. The Chairperson of the project was Lt. Governor Pauline McGibbon; Sudbury's representative was Peg Roberts.
The publication recommended Sudbury as the most likely site for a permanent professional theatre, and the Gryphon Theatre Co. of Barrie approached local amateur theatre groups for sponsorship of a production. The group's reactions were negative, but five local individuals - all with strong ties to the local groups - were eager to support the trial. Each knew that the establishment of a resident professional organization was the next step in the flourishing theatrical activities being conducted by amateurs and in the schools.
Sonja Dunn, Carolyn Fouriezos, Bill Hart, Bob Remnant and Peg Roberts undertook the daunting task of raising enough money to bring the talented young Barrie company to Sudbury for a production of Neil Simon's Come Blow Your Horn. Joe Skerry and George Bernie MacMillan were added to the committee as Treasurer and Social Convenor respectively.
The production ran at Laurentian University's Fraser Auditorium from May 5 to 8, and was financially and artistically successful. Audience questionnaires indicated that the majority would support a permanent professional theatre in Sudbury.
Encouraged by this success, the committee decided to move further down the path of establishing a professional theatre. Feeling the need for a chairman who was a respected businessman and community leader, they approached Morey Speigal. In July of 1971, he courageously accepted.
Letters patent incorporating Sudbury Theatre Centre were granted on September 14, 1971 - and Sudbury Theatre Centre was born.
The board was enlarged to include representatives of a wide variety of community groups and a search was begun to find personnel and funding. Gryphon produced the next two plays, however, the committee did not want to rely on a resident stock company. The necessary financial support came in the form of a substantial grant.
The Studio Lab Theatre Co. took up residence in Sudbury under contract to the STC to produce Threepenny Opera and Dr. Knock. Threepenny Opera was staged at Fraser Auditorium and Dr. Knock in the round, on the floor at the former Inco Club on Frood Road, where, thanks to the generosity of Inco Limited, the company had been rehearsing. Results, both financial and artistic, were mixed. Much more successful were the children's plays and workshops presented at Frood Road and Cambrian College.
The board of governors was learning fast. STC had gained experience, national notice, and a certainty that the theatre was here to stay.
By the mid 1970s, season subscriptions had tripled, and an increasing number of performances were sold out. By 1977 the seating capacity at the Inco Club had increased to 245 and each show was running for ten evening performances. Then the news came: Inco would need the facility for their own use the next year. Now was the time to lay plans for a home of our own!
At the dawn of the 1980s, STC returned to Fraser Auditorium and staged productions at The School of Education Auditorium (also on the Laurentian Campus) while plans proceeded for a permanent residence. The City generously donated a parcel of land on Shaughnessy Street, government grants were in place and fundraising was going well.
In July 1981, the sod was turned. Season subscriptions rose to 3,000 with sell-out houses for every performance. STC's production of The Sound of Music shattered box-office records with an attendance of 17,000.
The curtain finally rose on the 1982 season in a brand new facility - not just a fine building where plays are performed, but a living entity, brought to life with dedication, determination and dreams.
Now, heading into our 42nd season, we invite you to come play with us!
Our first home, the former Inco Club on Frood Road
Our first audience, 1972
Veronica's Room, 1975
Blythe Spirit, 1977
Screenwriter Robert Adetuyi in Little Hut, 1980
Dignitaries Jim Gordon, Diane Marleau and Doug Frith cut the ribbon at a gala on 22 September 1982 to open STC’s first season in its new home on Shaughnessy Street.
Oliver, the first show in the new theatre, 1982
Annie, 1985 (Do you recognize any of these kids?)
Annie Get Your Gun, 1987
Guys and Dolls, 1991
As You Like It, 1994
The Secret Garden, 1996
The Attic, The Pearls, and Three Fine Girls, 2003
The Mystery of Irma Vep, 2005
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2009
The Full Monty, 2010