Acting with the Stars


“Many young people dream of performing on a professional stage in a musical, but how many of them actually have the chance to do so?” This question, posed by Mitchell Marcus, Artistic Director of Acting Up Stage Company, sparked the creation of a joint venture with lifelong pal and colleague Naomi Zara of The Stage Door Academy.

Their two companies have partnered to give a group of talented students from The Stage Door Academy a unique opportunity to make their musical dreams come true. How aptly timed in an era of Gleeks!

Acting Up Stage is the best-kept secret in Toronto’s arts arena. Currently celebrating its tenth anniversary, this organization is dedicated to presenting modern musicals with casts of fully professional Canadian performers. The best part is that performances are delivered at an affordable price. For the cost of one professional downtown Toronto theatre ticket, a family of four can attend for just $99 (that includes two adults and two kids under the age of 18!).

When it came time to decide on this year’s programming, Marcus chose Once On This Island, an award-winning musical that was on Broadway in the early 1990s. With a fantastic score, beautiful story and high-energy dancing, Once On This Island is a Caribbean retelling of the classic fairy tale, The Little Mermaid.


As it turns out, hot on the heels of this expert performance comes a unique mentorship opportunity and theatre experience for all ages. The Stage Door Academy is set to shadow the professional production with a student production of Once On This Island featuring children from the Yonge and Eglinton theatre school.

Ultimately giving the students involved the chance to work on a professional stage, they’ll also see how their experience in a youth production is mirrored by a group of professional adult artists. The actors from the Acting Up Stage Company have coached and mentored their student counterparts. And, most excitingly, the Stage Door performance will take place on the Acting Up Stage Company set, using props and lighting from the professional version.

If you’re a theatre junky like me, you’re going to want to see both productions with the professional and student casts.

The Acting Up Stage Company production of Once On This Island runs from January 21st to February 9th at the Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas St. East). Tickets are $30-$50 and can be purchased at or 1-800-838-3006.

The Stage Door Academy’s one-night-only performance of Once On This Island is on February 10th at the Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas St. East). Tickets are $21-$25 and can be purchased at

Stay tuned as this dynamic duo is already planning on partnering together again for yet another show next season.   To borrow a famous quote from Casablanca, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”



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Joanne Sallay

Joanne Sallay is a Director at Teachers on Call – a personalized home tutoring service with more than 25 years of experience.  Teachers on Call’s Ontario Certified Teachers specialize in providing one-on-one instruction in all subjects and grades including French Immersion tutoring.

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