World premiere of Beautiful Joe staged by students of St. Clair College in Meaford from May14 to 17

St. Clair College students are in Meaford for the world premiere of Beautiful Joe from May 14 to 17. Photo:

St. Clair College Musical Theatre students will make their mark onstage in the world premiere of Beautiful Joe, this May at Meaford Hall, Meaford, Ontario.

Beautiful Joe is the true story of a mongrel dog who escapes a life of cruelty, abuse and torture. Canadian author Margaret Marshall Saunders wrote the story in 1897 following a visit to Meaford, Ontario. In 2009, a group of volunteers from the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society, with the help of the Grey-Bruce Arts Collective commissioned acclaimed playwright, Michael O’Brien to adapt Marshall Saunders’ novel for the stage. Since that time, the play has gone through all the stages of development with readings and workshops. This May, the play Beautiful Joe, will premiere in Joe’s hometown, Meaford, Ontario for only six performances.

The students with the Musical Theatre program have been an integral part of this project. Many of them were part of the workshop production in Stratford in 2012. So it seems fitting that this world premier will be graced with the talents from St. Clair. “In the development of the project, it became very clear to me that this play needed to have a strong musical component” says Roger Shank, Artistic Director of The Grey-Bruce Arts Collective and instructor at St. Clair College. It was at this time that Roger was working with Courtney Meloche (Musical Theatre 2011) and they collaborated on writing the music for the workshop production for SpringWorks, a Indie Arts festival in Stratford. “Courtney’s musical talents are second to none and she really found some fantastic lyrical themes. Her music easily allows a modern ear to connect to the story,” says Shank.

The Grey-Bruce Arts Collective is a professional theatre company with a focus on bringing local stories to life. The cast of Beautiful Joe is made up of: Ryan Boyko, Mackenzie Muldoon, Brendan Rowland and Lorretta Bailey ( also an instructor in the Musical Theatre Program). Rounding out the line up are some of St. Clair’s finest: Wilex Ly, Brett Brownlee, Holly McCourt, Mark Gallagher, Richard Marchment, Kathryn Langridge, Chantelle Tanguay, and Clea McAffrey. “These young people have what it takes to be onstage. They are dedicated, passionate and holy smokes, can they sing” says Shank. The students are thrilled to be part of this professional production as well, “Acting along side veteran theatre professionals has given me a real confidence boost” says Holly McCourt, now in her 2nd year at St. Clair.

Presented by the Grey-Bruce Arts Collective in association with the Beautiful Joe Heritage Society.

Performances are at Meaford Hall, May 14 to 17. Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 students. Tickets are available at 1-877-538-0463 or at

For more information about Beautiful Joe please visit or visit their facebook page.