Curtain's Up: Musical Theatre

This course examines the astonishing development of the Musical as an art form, using musical examples from over a century of Broadway and beyond.  The sessions will be participatory, and feature opportunities to sing material from the various eras, tracing the growth from Operetta to the multi-faceted scores of the 21st Century.

Each day will concentrate on a specific stylistic period:

  1. Operetta to Showboat
  2. The late 1920s to the early 1940s
  3. The "Golden Age" (Oklahoma! to Fiddler On The Roof)
  4. The late 1960s to the early 1990s
  5. The Modern Age and the future

Discussions will range from backstage and onstage stories to the reasons behind the significant stylistic changes that have taken place.  Various composers will be highlighted, and participants will not only perform music from Broadway and beyond, but consider the different vocal approaches required to sell such a huge variety of musical material.  Importantly, Canadian musicals will be examined along with the Broadway/West End productions.

This course is directed at performers, writers, composers, directors, musical directors and producers who wish to expand their understanding where the musical has been, where it currently stands, and where it is going.  The intention would be that this level of discourse and participation would assist in the ongoing development of skills at the highest level which could then be taken back into the rehearsal hall and the theatre.


David_WarrackDavid Warrack has had the opportunity throughout his career to work extensively in a compelling variety of disciplines.

He has been musical director for over 250 productions on stage, radio, and television including Shenandoah on Broadway, Closer Than Ever (Dora Mavor Moore Award), the cross-Canada tour of Jacques Brel, Unforgettable: The Story of Nat King Cole in Vancouver and nine Christmas Pantomimes produced by Ross Petty at Toronto’s elegant Elgin Theatre. He was Musical Director/Arranger for a tribute to Oscar Hammerstein II at the Hummingbird Centre with the Mendelssohn Singers and from 2006 to 2009 he was the MD for the brand new Showcase Festival on Vancouver Island. More recently he MD’d Brubeck’s Oratorio Light In The Wilderness, performed by the celebrated Elora Festival Singers.

He toured and recorded with Maureen Forrester for the last fifteen years of her storied career, as conductor and/or accompanist.  He has been a guest conductor with orchestras across North America.  As a composer, his credits include works for orchestra, chamber groups, choirs and stage bands.  He has written or collaborated on over 70 professionally produced musicals, including many of the longest-running shows in Canadian Theatre History.  In October, his coal miners’ musical Dancing In The Coal Dust was showcased at the Shaw Festival Studio Theatre as part of Lyric Canada 2010.  On November 22, the Arts and letters Club presented an evening as a tribute to the songs of David Warrack.  In 2006, The Port Theatre in St. Catharines presented The Magic Of Music, featuring 39 of David’s over 2,000 songs.  In August, his new musical ROB ROY had the honour of premiering at the celebrated Edinburgh Fringe Festival to great acclaim.  The CD and Songbook for that show were released in 2007.

At the piano, David is featured on the concert circuit with programs ranging from classical to musical theatre to jazz, including ongoing appearances with Len Cariou, Michael Burgess, Louise Pitre, Mark Dubois, Marcus Nance, Judy Marshak, Mark Cassius, Elizabeth Beeler, and Bill Bridges.  This past summer he was featured at the Elora Festival in a tribute to Musical Theatre along with megawatt Diva Jackie Richardson. That was followed by a celebrated concert with Jackie at the George Weston Concert Hall in November of 2010.

His musical Catwalk (written with J. Sean Elliott and Paul Vella) has been optioned for a film. The Three Davids (featuring the songs of David Frishberg, David Shire, and David Warrack) is in pre-production. He is currently working on two new commissions – Eva, based on the legendary vaudevillian Eva Tanguay, and Dance With Duarte, a musical set in the traditional Spanish “All Souls’ Day.”

David was born in Calgary, where he first was heard on radio at the age of five.  He studied at the University of Calgary, the Berklee School of Music in Boston, the Royal Conservatory, and the University of Toronto.  He lives in Toronto with his wife Lona Davis, a gifted pianist and musical director, and has been blessed with three children, Gordon, Levi, and the newlywed (!) Cayleigh.

Register for this summer course

Return to Summer Theatre Intensive


401 Richmond Street West, Suite 350, Toronto, ON, M5V 3A8
Telephone: 416.408.4556 (Find an Extension) / Fax: 416.408.3402
Get Directions / Contact Us via E-Mail


Monday to Friday: 9 am to 5 pm
(In July and August, our hours are Monday to Thursday: 9 am to 5 pm and Friday: 9 am to 1 pm)