Dry Cold Productions wascreated in September 2000 by Donna Fletcher and Reid Harrison with a vision of presenting musicals never producedin Winnipeg bya professional theatre company. Theproductions Dry Cold has chosen to present to Manitoba audiences have explored seriousthematic material and have been both dramatically and musically demanding. Thesemusicals have provided a vehicle for the talented local actors and singers ofour community to tackle demanding musical theatre repertoire not produced bythe mainstream theatre community. DryCold Productions employs exclusively Manitobatalent both behind the scenes and on stage, thereby providing work and trainingopportunities for established and emerging Manitoba theatre artists, technical staffand musicians. Dry Cold has embraced therole of acting as a training and mentoring organization for young performers andhas provided opportunities for artists such as Mairi Babb, Tim Bandfield,Dorothy Carroll, Lara Ciekiewicz, Marc Devigne, Matthew Fletcher, AlexandraFrohlinger, Katie German, Tim Gledhill, Samantha Hill, Aaron Hutton, DerekLeenhouts, Carson Nattrass, Kimberley Rampersad, Jaz Sealey, Sarah Sheps and CaitWood as their careers were just beginning.
In May of 2001,Dry Cold’s first production, Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, waspresented at CanWest Global (now Shaw) Performing Arts Centre. It featured fifteen of Winnipeg’s finest actors and singers and anintimate orchestra of professional musicians. The production was a resounding artistic success and drew an audience ofalmost 70% of capacity. This was asignificant achievement for a new company presenting musicals in a format rarelyseen by Winnipegtheatergoing audiences: staged and costumed but with minimal sets and withscripts in hand. Following thatsuccessful premiere presentation, Dry Cold also produced Into the Woods (2002), TheSecret Garden (2003), She Loves Me (2004), Assassins (2006) and Nine(2007) with similar success. In 2008 Dry Cold presented Urinetownwhich sold out all three performances and once again demonstrated that it was acompany determined to set the standard for local productions of contemporarymusical theatre. The critical andaudience response to Dry Cold’s most recent offerings of Company (2009), The Light in the Piazza (2010), SweeneyTodd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2011) and Little Women the Musical (2012)has simply reinforced this reputation. Dry Cold’s most recent production,Stephen Sondheim’s 1971 masterpiece, Follies, was presented as part ofthe Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s Master Playwright Festival, SondheimFest 2013. The entire run sold out prior to opening and Follieswas praised by many as the jewel of the festival.
The excellenceof the material – the music, the text, the story – is the central determiningfactor to Dry Cold’s philosophy of presentation. The producers strongly believe that musicaltheatre is at its best when presented with a clean simplicity, where extravagancein production considerations isn’t allowed to create obstacles between theartists and the audience. Costumes are creativelydesigned by Harlequin Costumes to facilitate quick shifts of character and Canada’sfinest designers including Brian Perchaluk,Craig Sandells, David Owen Lucas,Leanne Foley and Grant Guy have created elegant sets to showcase Dry Cold’scompelling style of theatre. Two of Winnipeg’s nationallyacclaimed lighting designers, Scott Hendersonand Bill Williams, have created lighting so important and integral to this formof presentation that it has been acclaimed for its excellence.
Dry Cold’s firstfour productions were fully staged concert versions of musical theatre in thevein of companies found in New York (City Centre Encores), London (Discover theLost Musicals), San Francisco (42nd Street Moon) and Los Angeles(Reprise Theatre Company). Like Dry ColdProductions, these companies are driven by a similar motivation to showcase thebest pieces found in the musical theatre canon. They choose older classics that have been “lost” or present cuttingedge, newer musicals that benefit from a streamlined presentation that placesthe focus on the story and glorious music. Dry Cold exists in a vital theatre community where many of the morechallenging and celebrated examples of modern musical theatre repertoire havenever been presented. Dry Cold has stepped into the void and chosen to bringthese highly regarded and neglected works to Manitoba audiences.
In 2006, afterfour years of successful production, with the desire to grow as a company andwith the overwhelming support of the community, Dry Cold made the decision to movefrom the “staged concert” practice of performing with our production of Assassins.With this production, Dry Cold departed from its practice of a two-weekrehearsal and performance schedule. Severaldays of rehearsal were added to the process and a Dry Cold show was done “off-book”for the first time. This piece realizedDry Cold’s dream of utilizing all of the possibilities of a fully stagedproduction while retaining the striking and effective simplicity that markedour first four productions. After thesuccess of Assassins which runs only one hour and forty minutes withoutintermission, Dry Cold once again extended the rehearsal period even further towork within a three-week rehearsal and performance schedule for the full-lengthtwo-act musicals Nine, Urinetown, Company, The Light in the Piazza, SweeneyTodd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Little Women the Musicaland Follies.
Now well intoits second decade, Dry Cold Productions will continue to provide Manitobanswith the most recent musical theatre as well as exciting newopportunities. In November, 2011 DryCold collaborated with the Winnipeg Symphony on Send in the Clowns: The Music ofStephen Sondheim starring Len Cariou. This concert featured Dry Coldartists Lara Ciekiewicz, DonnaFletcher, Naomi Forman, Peter Huck and Aaron Hutton aswell as the musical theatre ensemble of the Marcel A. Desautels Faculty ofMusic at the University of Manitoba. Itis currently in discussions with the WSO on future projects as well as withother local theatre companies regarding possible co-productions. In the future,Dry Cold Productions intends to assist in the development of original Canadianmusicals through workshops, readings and possible productions utilizing thetalents of professional performers and dramaturges.