Patrons and actors alike will benefit from a refurbished Hart House Theatre, thanks to a lead contribution from Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels (BA 1966 UC) to the Hart House Theatre Endowment.
Michaels performed in University College productions and directed and co-wrote the UC Follies while attending U of T. The musical revue, which he directed in 1964, provided a taste of the satire to come a decade later when Saturday Night Live made its debut. “What I do now professionally, I first did here as an amateur,” Michaels told a graduating class at Convocation Hall in 2002. He said his happiest time at U of T was spent at Hart House: “lunch in the Great Hall, reading in the library, but most of all in the theatre.”
As part of the theatre’s planned $1-million renovation, improved lighting and seating will be installed in the auditorium, and the green room and dressing rooms will be gutted and remodelled to give the actors more space. A bar will be constructed in the Lorne Michaels Lobby, and washrooms will be expanded and made accessible. The foyer will be redecorated with theatre memorabilia and renamed the Macdonald Heaslip Performance Walkway, in honour of a $500,000 contribution from William Heaslip and Nona Macdonald Heaslip (BA 1951 St. Mike’s). “The renovations will ensure a high-quality performance space for student groups, and will continue to provide an outlet for creative expression,” says Paul Templin, the theatre’s managing director.
The Hart House Theatre campaign aims to raise a total of $8 million to cover the playhouse’s renovations, and to create an endowment to support ongoing operations. Donations from such high-profile alumni as Norman Jewison (BA 1949 VIC), chair of the theatre’s Council of Patrons, and Michaels have helped Hart House raise awareness about the theatre’s plans. Renovations are slated to begin in 2007.