A kitsch-infested trailer park in Southern California. Hard-drinking, chain-smoking, down-and-out, Maude Gutman is convinced she bought an unknown Jackson Pollock masterpiece worth millions at a junk shop. The question is whether the highbrow art expert, Lionel Percy, will agree. He’s about to find out what makes art, and people, truly authentic.
Set & Costume Designer Pam Johnson | Lighting Designer Conor Moore | Video Designer Michael Sider | Sound Designer Scott Zechner
Stage Manager Rick Rinder | Apprentice Stage Manager Isabel Quintero Faia
Though the multi-talented Jonathan Monro may have started out as a classical pianist, he has branched out into several aspects of the performing arts, including film, television, classical theatre, and musicals, also working behind the scenes as a composer, musical director and writer. In an interview for Newfoundland’s The Evening Telegram in the mid-90s, Jonathan was quoted as saying, “I always had a suspicion that theatre was my first love. […] I have faith that the hours spent at the piano will someday pay off." Indeed it did! He was in the first US national tour of the Canadian sensation, Two Pianos Four Hands, and in the original Canadian cast of The Producers, has seven Stratford seasons under his belt, four at the Atlantic Theatre Festival, and over seventy professional productions to his credit.
Centaur Stage: You were born Jonathan Luke Weiser; what prompted the change to Monro?
Jonathan Monro: There are a few reasons behind the change but the most interesting one is that my maternal grandmother was a very good actress, and Monro was her maiden name.
CS: You made your debut as a classical pianist at the age of 16 at New York’s Carnegie Hall, an impressive beginning to an international career, which you gave up in 1994. After studying voice at Memorial University in Newfoundland, followed by three years of “triple threat” training at the renowned Sheridan College, you made your professional acting debut in 1997 at the Stratford Festival in Camelot, The Taming of the Shrew, and Coriolanus. That same season you won the Louis Applebaum Tyrone Guthrie Award for your musical contribution to the festival. Did your father’s acting company, the Traveling Theatre Company, have anything to do with your career path shift?
JM: I was actually too young to remember the theatre company, but I certainly admired his work when I was old enough to appreciate it. There were a number of tremendous actors who got their start with him: Mary Walsh, Cathy Jones, Andy Jones, David Ferry, Bob Joy, Tommy Sexton, Greg Malone … the list goes on.
CS: What do you like best and least about working in the performing arts?
JM: The people I get to work with and the stories I get to tell are two of the best perks. Not being able to pay my rent from time to time is my least favourite thing.
CS: Do you feel more comfortable in one discipline more than the other?
JM: The moment I feel “comfortable” in any discipline is the moment I know I’m not doing my job. I’m paid to feel uncomfortable. Sure there have been times when I’ve felt less “right” but the discipline has never mattered.
CS: You are a native Newfoundlander with strong ties to Stratford, the NAC in Ottawa and the Atlantic Theatre Festival. What made you decide to move to Montreal permanently?
JM: Montreal definitely has sentimental value to me. My dad is from Montreal so we used to come here and visit family most every year. It was always an exciting city to me, especially since I was in a French school from Kindergarten to grade 12. There is so much to love about this city: the multiculturalism, the arts in both French and English, the food, the architecture, the festivals, the scenery, the proximity to the Laurentians … I could go on. Most of all, I love how much Montrealers value the quality of life in this city. It’s a social town; it’s not work work work all the time. I am so happy I made the choice to move here. I feel very much at home.
CS: As a performing arts ‘renaissance man’ who acts, writes, composes, plays piano, sings and is a musical director, do you have other talents: are you a Cordon Bleu chef, a quantum physics enthusiast, or a master cabinetmaker?
JM: My sister is a pastry chef—her chocolate cheesecake is unreal—but I don’t really have any other hidden talents. I was a competitive swimmer when I was a teenager—my mother was a swimming coach—and could swim a mean 100 meter backstroke. Regarding my culinary skills I can safely say that I bake a decent lavender crème brûlée but my real hobby is screenwriting.
CS: Work has been keeping you very busy of late. No Matter What, your new musical about the women of Bragg Island, premiered in Newfoundland in April 2015. A CD of the original cast of Alan Menken’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, for which you were the Musical Director/Supervisor, was released in December while you were working on the NAC production of A Christmas Carol. It was also recently announced that you will be writing the music and lyrics for Roch Carrier’s popular tale, The Hockey Sweater, in celebration of Montreal’s 375th anniversary. What can you share with us about these projects?
JM: 2016 was very kind to me. I’m really excited about The Hockey Sweater, which we cast in January. It was one of my favourite books and short films as a kid. I can’t reveal much right now but I can say that the creative ideas for this production are stunning. Between that project and getting to work with the amazing Nicola Cavendish as I make my Centaur debut, I have to admit that 2017 is off to a great start. I can’t wait for the rest of the year to unfold.
In collaboration with
An inspiring, informative and entertaining lecture designed to enrich your theatre-going experience.
February 5 12:30 PM - FREE ADMISSION
Join Lucinda Chodan, Montreal Gazette's editor in Chief as she investigates the possibilities of finding a real Jackson Pollock in a flea market, as well as the possibility of finding a fake one in our Museums!
Free coffee and biscotti, generously provided by Season Sponsor Bonaparte Restaurant.