Elegies: A Song Cycle

Mar 21 – Apr 13, 2014


About the Show

A reimagined revival of Acting Up Stage’s first breakthrough, sold-out hit, Elegies is a celebration of life and music penned by Tony Award winning composer and lyricist William Finn. Elegies commemorates the lives of people both real and fictional with rousing theatricality and unforgettable songs. From Finn’s friends, to his mother, to his dogs, to the victims of the World Trade Centre collapse, these characters and their stories will enchant and enrich your spirit in this stunning masterwork that celebrates the human experience and life’s infinite joys.

Check out our sneak peek video!



  • by William Finn
  • directed by Lezlie Wade
    music direction by Wayne Gwillim
    assistant director Sarah Gibbons
  • starring
    Thom Allison, Barbara Barsky, Steven Gallagher, Joel Gomez, Eliza-Jane Scott
  • pianist John Hughes
  • set and costume design Robin Fisher lighting design Siobhan Sleath
    assistant set and costume designer Elizabeth Nutting
    production manager Patrick Lavender
  • stage manager Lisa Humber

Thom Allison, Performer

Thom Allison recently earned raves as Nicely-Nicely in Guys and Dolls at the Shaw Festival as well as Coalhouse Walker in their production of Ragtime last year. Before that, he made his Broadway debut in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. He was in the original Canadian companies of Miss Saigon, The Who’s Tommy and Rent. He has been nominated for 2 Dora Awards, 2 Betty Awards, a Jessie Award , an Ovation Award and a Sterling Award. At The Stratford Festival, Thom has appeared in Romeo and Juliet, My Fair Lady, Threepenny Opera, The King and I, King Henry VIII, and Into the Woods. Other credits include Cabaret, Take Me Out, Outrageous, Dreamgirls, and Drowsy Chaperone. His CD, A Whole Lotta Sunlight is available on iTunes. Visit his website

Barbara Barsky, Performer

Barbara is thrilled to be back with her Elegies family to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Acting Up Stage. Some selected credits include: Mama Rose in Gypsy (The Arts Club), Penelope Pennywise in Urinetown (Jessie Award nomination), Maria Callas in Master Class, Golde in Susan H. Schulman’s Fiddler on the Roof, Wanderlust (Stratford Festival), Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (Livent),Charlotte in Larry’s Party (CanStage, NAC,MTC), Mrs.Lovett in Sweeney Todd and Mme. Thernardier in Les Miserables (WCT). She has received seven Dora Award nominations for Closer Than Ever, Forbidden Broadway, Chutzpah A Go Go, Snappy Tales, Assassins and A New Brain (Acting Up Stage). She co-produced with her husband Marek Norman, the original Canadian production of Assassins which garnered five Doras, including Best Production. She was a member of the legendary Second City Company, and co-founder of Reprise Concerts, great musicals in concert. Actra Award nomination (Clowns), Tyrone Guthrie Award.

Steven Gallagher, Performer

For Acting Up Stage: Elegies and A New Brain. Recent Credits include Fagin in Oliver! at the Drayton Theatre Festival, Albin in La Cage Aux Folles at Neptune Theatre (Merritt Award Nomination) Toronto credits include Urinetown, The Rocky Horror Show and It’s a Wonderful Life (The Canadian Stage Company). Other credits: Cabaret, Beauty and The Beast, and Shear Madness (Stage West Mississauga), Amelia: The Girl Who Wants to Fly (GCTC, TIP, and Festival Players), Joseph, Wizard of Oz and Cinderella (The Grand Theatre) As a Playwright, his most recent play, Stealing Sam, was seen at the 2013 Toronto Fringe, where it received Best of Fringe. Steven is the recipient of a 2013 Harold Award.

Joel Gomez, Performer

This is Joel’s debut performance with Acting Up Stage, and he’s thrilled to be celebrating the 10th anniversary season with the Elegies company. A recent graduate of Music Theatre Performance at Sheridan College, Joel has been writing and producing music for himself and other artists. Some favourite performances include: Tobias Ragg in Sweeney Todd (Theatre Aquarius); Giuseppe in The Most Happy Fella (Theatre Sheridan); The Beadle in Sweeney Todd (Theatre Sheridan); and Mark Cohen in RENT (Sheridan and its Panasonic Theatre remount). Much love to Mom and Dad for your faith and support. This one - as always - is for you.

Eliza Jane Scott, Performer

Theatre: Maria in Sound of Music (National Arts Centre) Tartuffe (NAC), Enron (NAC) Amelia: The Girl Who Wants to Fly (1000 Islands Playhouse, GCTC, Festival Players of Prince Edward County), Assassins (Birdland/TIFT) Colours in the Storm (Festival Players), The Music Man, Fuente Ovejuna (Stratford Shakespeare Festival), The Full Monty (Stage West), Elegies (Acting Upstage), The Producers Canadian Company and First American National Tour (Mirvish),Yidl Mitn Fidl, Funny Girl (Winnipeg Jewish Theatre), Wang Dang Doodle (Grand Theatre London), Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (Marquis Entertainment), The Possibilities, Measure for Measure (Montreal Young Company), Anne (YPT), The Convict Lover, Sir John, Eh? (Theatre Passe Muraille) among others. Film/Television: Molly: An American Girl Doll (ABC/ Disney), Challenger (BBC/ National Geographic), Sue Thomas F. B. Eye (Pebblehut/Pax), A Saintly Switch (ABC/ Disney), The Gavin Crawford Show (Idlemind/ Shaftesbury), Odyssey 5 (Showtime), Leap Years (Showtime), Bleacher Bums (Showtime).

Lezlie Wade, Director

Lezlie is a director, writer, lyricist and actor. She was the assistant director on Fuente Ovejuna, As You Like It and A Word or Two at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival as well as Jesus Christ Superstar at the Lajolla Playhouse and on Broadway. She was associate director on Henry V and an inaugural member of the Michael Langham Classical Theatre Workshop. Other recent directing credits include: Legally Blonde, RAPA, Queen Milli of Galt, Theatre Aquarius, RENT, Theatre Sheridan & Panasonic Theatre, Resident Director/ Choreographer, The Toxic Avenger, Dancap Productions, Dog Sees God: Confessions of A Teenage Blockhead, Rubinoff Productions, Elegies and A Man of No Importance, Acting Up Stage Co. for which she received a Dora nomination, The Yalta Game, Shaw Festival and Book of Days, Theatre Emanation. She is a member of the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and Andrew Lippa’s Writers Bloc. She is a lyricist in the BMI workshop in New York where she is currently writing an adaptation of The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen with collaborator, Daniel Green. It will be workshopped this summer at the Finger Lakes Music Theatre Festival. For my Dad, who brought me “infinite joy”.

Wayne Gwillim, Music Director

For Acting Up Stage, Wayne has provided music direction for their original production of Elegies: A Song Cycle, A New Brain, john & jen, and tick, tick… BOOM!. Toronto credits include serving as assistant music director/ keyboardist for Les Misérables, The Wizard of Oz, and The Sound of Music (Mirvish Productions) and freelance engagements as an arranger, keyboard programmer, and vocal coach. Wayne has worked at the Shaw Festival for several seasons, providing musical assistance on shows including Guys & Dolls, Ragtime, My Fair Lady, Sunday in the Park with George, French Without Tears, and One Touch of Venus. Originally from Saskatchewan, Wayne is a graduate of University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music.

John Hughes, Pianist

Musical Direction: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Lady Be Good, Real Live Girl, Blue Champagne, Me and My Girl, I Love You – You’re Perfect – Now Change, A Grand Night for Singing, Guys and Dolls, Nunsense, Dads. Pianist: A Snow White Christmas (world première), Closer than Ever, Forever Plaid, Falsettos, Mid-Life: the Crisis Musical, Anne of Green Gables, Fiddler on the Roof, Dames at Sea. Television: Triple Sensation, How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and Over the Rainbow. Other: Audition accompanist for many major theatre companies; vocal coach and accompanist at Randolph Academy and Sheridan College; private coach to many professional singers. I dedicate this performance to my dad who taught me the inestimable value of good humour.

Robin Fisher, Set and Costume Design

For Acting Up Stage: Set – A Man of No Importance. Set and Costume – Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata. Select Designs include set and costumes for: Fiddler on the Roof (Western Canada Theatre), The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon (Globe Theatre), A Year With Frog and Toad and Cinderella (Young People’s Theatre), Hand of Bridge/Telephone (Canadian Opera Company), The Little Prince (The Grand Theatre), The Tempest (The Canadian Stage Company), The Syringa Tree and Circle Mirror Transformation (Great Canadian Theatre Company). Costumes: The Rez Sisters (Factory Theatre), The Ends of the Earth (The Belfry Theatre), The Cherry Orchard (Soulpepper). Et Cetera: Robin is the recipient of three Dora Mavor Moore awards. Upcoming: Costumes for Minotaur (Young People’s Theatre)

Siobahn Sleath, Lighting Design

This is Siobhán’s first show for Acting Up Stage and is very excited to be on the design team for Elegies: A Song Cycle. Her recent credits include lighting design of The Last Resort (Globe Theatre), Tainted (Moyo Productions), The Dumb Waiter (Wordsmythe Theatre), A Few Brittle Leaves (A Cabaret Company), Ordinary Days and I Love You Because (Angelwalk Theatre), I Hired a Contract Killer and Hair (Randolph Academy for Performing Arts), Cabaret and The Great American Trailer Park Musical (Hart House Theatre). Siobhán also worked five seasons as an assistant lighting designer at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival on numerous productions including To Kill a Mockingbird, Twelfth Night, The Tempest and Dangerous Liaison as well as being the associate lighting designer on Kiss Me, Kate.

Patrick Lavender, Production Manager

This is Patrick’s first production with Acting Up Stage, and he is delighted to be working with such a talented group. Patrick works as a production manager for Necessary Angel Theatre Company, Volcano Theatre, and Soundstreams. Patrick also works as a lighting and set designer with small but dedicated Toronto theatre companies. His recent work includes; Birth of Frankenstein (Litmus Theatre), Late Company (Suburban Beast and surface/underground theatre), When the World Was Green (surface/underground theatre), Dying City (surface/underground theatre), and Matchbox Macbeth (Litmus Theatre).

Lisa Humber, Stage Manager

Lisa is thrilled to be making her debut with Acting Up Stage. Enjoy the show! Originally from Sudbury, ON, Lisa is a graduate of the Humber College Theatre Program. Recent Credits include: Assistant Stage Manager Les Miserables and War Horse (Mirvish Productions). Stage Manager: Ghost Stories (Mirvish Productions), Slap Shot Live! (Second City Toronto) and Laura’s Cow (CCOC). She has worked across Canada with companies such as the Stratford Festival, Opera Lyra Ottawa and The Banff Centre. Lisa is the co-founder of aBabe Music in Toronto ( Many Thanks to her family and friends for their ongoing love and support. Livin’ The Dream…

Sarah Gibbons, Assistant Director

Sarah is thrilled to be joining the creative team of Elegies: A Song Cycle. Last year she appeared in Acting Up Stage’s Dora Nominated production of Falsettos as Cordelia. After graduating from The Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, she obtained her Masters Degree in Musical Theatre from The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Acting Credits include: Louisa in The Sound of Music (National Arts Centre), Abigail/Cherry in A History of Summer (Summerworks) Dot/Marie in Sunday in the Park with George (Edinburgh Fringe) Polly Baker in Crazy for You (St Andrews College), Kitty Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (The Annex Theatre). Recently she Assisted Lezlie Wade on Legally Blonde: The Musical at The Randolph Academy. Sarah is also a private piano & vocal coach in Toronto. She would like to thank Mitchell, Lezlie and the Acting Up Stage team for this opportunity.

Elizabeth Nutting, Assistant Set and Costume Designer

Elizabeth Nutting graduated with a B.A.H. in Drama from Queen’s University. Upon graduation, Elizabeth was accepted into the prestigious workstudy program at The Banff Centre. After working as a set and costume designer for 10 years, Elizabeth returned to school for a diploma in Event Management - Event and Exhibit Design at Seneca College: combining her natural inclination to manage with her desire to design. When Elizabeth is not working in the theatre industry, she acts as the Creative Director for maph productions, designing corporate special events.


More profound the second time around. Take yourself to Elegies. Yes, it’s that good! **** (out of 4)

— Richard, Ouzounian The Toronto Star

An encore that years later feels fresh. Pulses with the wonder and delight of being alive *** (out of 4)

— Martin Morrow, The Globe and Mail

A celebration, funny and poignant: truly a tribute to life! ***** (out of 5)

— Michael Englebert, The New AM740

- Barbara Barsky shines. Eliza-Jane Scott scores. You’re guaranteed some laughs and the occasional tear. NNNN (out of 5)

- Jon Kaplan, Now Magazine

The cast of five is wonderful. The show is a gem.

— Lynn Slotkin, The Slotkin Letter

So fined-tuned and spectacularly voiced turn[ing] heartbreak and tears into magic and inspiration!

— Drew Rowsome, My Gay Toronto

Friends and colleagues of the composer’s who have died over the last two decades are resurrected in playful lyrics burstling with internal rhymes that remember them in all their quirky vitality.

— The New York Times

This song cycle provided some of the most powerful moments I’ve experienced in musical theater.

— City Post Magazine



Interact With Us

This season we’re focusing on continuing the conversation outside the performance with some exciting activities and opportunities for our audiences.

‘Choose-Your–Own–Adventure’ Post Show Chats

Want to talk to cast members about their personal experiences? Interested in engaging with experts on show-related topics?

Join us for a 21st century post show chat every Thursday performance of Elegies. We will offer two choices of talks immediately following that evening’s performance. Choose which discussion most interests you based on your experience.

Expressing Grief Through Art (March 27, April 3 & 10)

Hosted by Norma Araiza, Expressive Arts Therapist at Hospice Toronto, this chat will focus on the various ways art can help us heal. Cast members will discuss William Finn’s process of dealing with his own personal and communal grief by writing Elegies alongside Norma’s fascinating practice of Expressive Arts Therapy.

The Story Behind the Songs (March 27, April 3 & 10)

Hosted by Lois Kivesto, PhD NYU, a local expert on the work of James Lapine and William Finn. In this chat, Lois and the cast will discuss the story behind the creation of Elegies, and the various characters depicted in each song.