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Donald Sutherland, Lorne Michaels and Norman Jewison
Donald Sutherland, Lorne Michaels and Norman Jewison. Courtesy of Donald Sutherland, Courtesy of University College, Photo by Peter Bregg/HELLO

Star Power

Hart House's notable theatre, film and television personalities

Hart House Theatre has famously been the training ground, both onstage and backstage, for some of the country’s foremost theatre, film and television personalities. Some notables:

Donald Sutherland (BA 1958 VIC), arguably the country’s most renowned living actor and the star of films as diverse as MASH, Ordinary People and The Hunger Games, played, among other roles at Hart House, Stephano in The Tempest. Of that performance, the Globe and Mail noted that he “illumes the low comedy scenes with a benign, blurry glow.”

Producer and founder of Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels (BA 1966 UC) got his start as the director of the UC Follies comedy and musical revue at Hart House. He’s described his time in the theatre as his happiest time at U of T. The theatre’s lobby is named after him in honour of his financial gifts.

In 1948, Kate Reid (LLD Hon. 1989) performed in two productions directed by Robert Gill at Hart House: Crime and Punishment and The Seagull. Her subsequent acting career included renowned performances at Stratford, the starring role in Tennessee Williams’ Slapstick Tragedy and as Aunt Lil in Dallas.

Raymond Massey, younger brother of Vincent, was known as one of the finest classical stage and film actors of the day – born in 1896, he died in 1983. He played Abraham Lincoln in the Broadway production of Abe Lincoln in Illinois, and starred in Seven Angry Men and East of Eden.

Canada’s annual theatre awards, the Doras, are named for Dora Mavor Moore (LLD Hon. 1970), the doyenne of Canadian drama. Born in Glasgow in 1888, she arrived in Toronto eight years later and was the founder of, among other theatre companies, the Hart House Touring Players.

Before becoming internationally known as the empathetic mind behind some of cinema’s most beloved and inventive stage musical adaptations – Fiddler on the Roof, Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell – and the founder of the Canadian Film Centre, Norman Jewison (BA 1949 VIC) cut his directorial teeth at the theatre.

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