Theatre Aquarius Gratefully Acknowledges
“Mr. Ron” & Donna Patterson
Remembering Lilly Kitagawa
September 10, 2020
Theatre Aquarius lost one of the most passionate and dedicated members of our theatre family recently, Lilly Kitagawa.
If you have visited the ticket pickup window in the last 20 years, the odds are excellent that you were welcomed by Lilly. Her warmth and the sincerity of her welcome is something you would remember. Lilly always looked forward to greeting patrons as well as identifying family of actors and staff that came in. She began volunteering with Theatre Aquarius in 1991, and over the years took on many additional responsibilities, including helping to coordinate the teams of her fellow volunteers who greet our patrons every day. Lilly loved all aspects of theatre and was happy to help whenever and wherever she was needed.
In spite of the tremendous gift of time and dedication that she made to support the theatre, Lilly never liked to have a fuss made about her. In her mind there was nothing extraordinary about what she did. To the staff, crew, cast and volunteers who had the pleasure of knowing her, this was simply not the case. They would tell you stories about the care and respect which she treated every co-worker and every guest she welcomed. They would sing the praises of the delicious baked treats which she so often brought with her. They would remember the intricate origami boxes she would absent-mindedly fold, turning theatre flyers and house programs into beautiful works of art. The children who lived on her street in Corktown will remember those little boxes, which Lilly would fill with holiday sweets by the dozens every Halloween.
Lilly Kitagawa was 89 years old when she passed away and was more vital and passionate than many people half her age. The time she spent at Theatre Aquarius was a gift to the organization and to the lives of all those who knew her.
Artistic Director Ron Ulrich to Retire
August 13, 2020
Media Release – August 13, 2020
Artistic Director Ron Ulrich to retire, will remain through 2020-21 Season to ensure stable leadership
Hamilton, ON, August 13, 2020 – If everything had gone to plan, Theatre Aquarius’ Artistic Director Ron Ulrich would have announced his retirement at the final production of the 2019-20 season. “I told the Board a little over a year ago I wanted to wind it up,” Ulrich says “I was persuaded to stay on until the end of the 20-21 season. We were going to announce it at the close of this past season, and I was going to hang on, put the next season in place, and then slide away into a delicious retirement. Then the world changed.”
The world may have changed, and his plans somewhat delayed, but Ulrich’s resolve to step aside after a long and distinguished career remains firm. He took the reins of Hamilton’s regional professional theatre in 2008. In the years that followed Ulrich programmed an eclectic mix which both entertained and challenged the expectations of Theatre Aquarius’ subscriber base and fans.
Under Ulrich, Theatre Aquarius produced some of the most successful productions in its history, including record-breaking musicals such as Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, Mamma Mia! and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story as well as productions of The Mousetrap, Tuesdays With Morrie and The Last Romance that set new high-water marks for attendance for non-musical works at Aquarius. The box-office success of these shows helped to support the production of other, vital works including The Father, Sweat, Blackbird, The Nether, Where The Blood Mixes, and Playing with Fire: The Theo Fleury Story.
Ulrich’s impressive run as Artistic Director has allowed for the renewal and replacement of capital equipment and the diligent care of the company’s landmark theatre centre at 190 King William Street. The financial stability of Ulrich’s tenure also allowed for further innovation, including the launch of expanded educational programming for youth, and the development of new outreach programs. Under Ulrich, the theatre has worked with partner organizations such as the Incite Foundation for the Arts and the Hamilton Community Foundation to offer no-cost admission for families and youth financially unable to attend, as well as opportunities for no-cost registration within the theatre school training programs for students from schools designated as “high needs”.
Prior to coming to Theatre Aquarius, Mr. Ulrich spent eight seasons as Artistic Director of Halifax’s Neptune Theatre. In his time there, he re-established the company as an integral part of the community, brought its subscription base and attendance to the highest levels in its history, and restored fiscal health by eliminating its operating deficit.
Prior to Neptune Theatre Ron Ulrich was Executive and Artistic Director of the Mayfield Theatre in Edmonton, AB (1994-2000); Artistic Director of the Muskoka Festival, Gravenhurst, ON (1992-1994); Artistic Director of Stage West Canada (1985-1993); and Artistic Director of Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend, ON (1983-1985).
As a guest director Mr. Ulrich has directed shows across Canada at such venues as the Bastion Theatre, Citadel Theatre, Theatre New Brunswick, Kawartha Festival, Bathurst Street Theatre, Press Theatre, Persephone Theatre, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Sunshine Festival, Guelph Centre for the Arts, Oakville Centre for the Arts, Teller’s Cage, as well as the Ensemble Theatre in Cincinnati, and the Thorndyke Theatre in England.
Mr. Ulrich holds a Bachelor of Arts (with Great Distinction) from the University of Saskatchewan and is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada. He has been the recipient of Canada Council, Theatre Ontario, and Saskatchewan Arts Awards.
The Theatre Aquarius Board of Directors has launched the search for Ron’s replacement as Artistic Director. This effort will be an exhaustive, national search for a leader of extraordinary skills, strong business discipline and the community vision to guide Theatre Aquarius into its upcoming 50th anniversary year and beyond.
Ulrich will continue to helm Theatre Aquarius through the challenges of the 2020-21 season, and then step away to explore what comes next.
Hamilton Spectator Profile
August 20, 2020
The Hamilton Spectator’s Gary Smith spoke to Artistic Director Ron Ulrich about this retirement after 12 seasons at the helm of Hamilton’s Theatre Aquarius. Spectator subscribers may read the full article HERE
Theatre Aquarius remembers Nick Cordero
July 6, 2020
Our thoughts are with the family of Nick Cordero, Hamilton native and Broadway theatre star, who passed away recently after a long illness and complications regarding Covid-19. Nick was a tremendously talented individual and his achievements were a great source of pride for the entire community. He will be greatly missed.
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Theatre Aquarius is a not-for-profit registered charity dedicated to creating outstanding, accessible, live theatre that entertains, challenges, & educates. Charitable Registration Number 11921 3957 RR0001