Aquarius Announces National Centre for New Musicals

Aquarius Announces National Centre for New Musicals

Jun 1, 2023

Theatre Aquarius


Jun 1, 2023

Theatre Aquarius


Funding Commitments Totalling $1 Million Secured

HAMILTON, June 1, 2023 – Theatre Aquarius is proud to announce the launch of the National Centre for New Musicals (NCNM)NCNM will play a pivotal role in nurturing, developing, and advancing Canadian musical theatre projects, stories, and voices.

Championed by the leadership team of Theatre Aquarius Artistic Director Mary Francis Moore and Executive Director Kelly Straughan and bolstered by a visionary and bold inaugural Advisory Committee, NCNM is set to revolutionize the national and international musical theatre landscape, offering unparalleled opportunity for both established and emerging Canadian composers, lyricists, book writers and theatre artists.

Funding commitments totalling $1 million are secured for NCNM‘s first five years as part of the total budget of $2 million. This will firmly establish NCNM and ultimately Canada as a leading player in the field of musical theatre development and provide an unmatched platform for growth and long-term success.

NCNM will support projects at various stages in the continuum of development – from early-stage concepts to previously workshopped or showcased work. Guided by a distinguished Advisory Committee comprised of celebrated theatre practitioners, NCNM will provide mentorship and pathways for new artists and projects.

“We are thrilled to position ourselves as a launchpad for national and international opportunities,” says Theatre Aquarius Artistic Director Mary Francis Moore, “Aquarius has a storied history of talent development; and with our dynamic team, exciting partnership opportunities and our proximity to Toronto and New York, NCNM is poised to solidify Hamilton firmly on the ‘arts and culture’ map nationally and internationally.”

“To showcase exceptional new Canadian musicals within and beyond our borders, we need a theatre to nurture and foster their development. I am elated to see Theatre Aquarius become the national home for the development and growth of new Canadian musicals,” explains Michael Rubinoff, Co-Chair of the NCNM Advisory Committee, and a pioneering force in new Canadian musical theatre development.

As part of its mission, NCNM will actively cultivate and strengthen new and diverse voices by ensuring that artists and creators are provided with mentorship and consultation to maximize their potential for success in the genre.

Moore and Rubinoff are joined by NCNM Advisory Committee Co-Chair Lily LingLing is a Chinese-Canadian Music Director, Conductor, Pianist and Educator, and a strong advocate for mentorship and outreach. She was the first female music director and the first person of East Asian descent to conduct Hamilton and is the current interim Music Director and Conductor for Moulin Rouge on Broadway. The Advisory Committee is also comprised of Canadian Music Director, Conductor and Educator Sean Mayes whose Broadway credits include Assistant Conductor of MJ and Associate Conductor of Hadestown. Additionally, Mayes was the Conductor of the all-Canadian premiere of The Colour Purple as well as Musical Supervisor of the Finnish Premiere of Come From Away.

“The musical MAGGIE packed houses, and proved that the timing is right to shine the spotlight on Canadian talent. NCNM will provide the innovation and resources to catapult Canadian musical theatre creators to an entirely new level,” says Theatre Aquarius Executive Director Kelly Straughan. “The region’s incredible support is instrumental to the exciting and historic plans for new musical theatre development in Canada, right here at Aquarius, and this is just the beginning.”

“I am so proud of the long established and emerging cultural landscape that is a crucial part of the City of Hamilton. The launch of NCNM at Aquarius will have a significant positive impact on both tourism and economic development in our city,” says Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath. “This announcement of the NCNM as a musical theatre incubator is tremendously exciting and we can’t wait to welcome the international musical theatre world to Hamilton.”

Exciting announcements around the program, its funders and the submission process will be made in the fall in conjunction with the start of Aquarius’ 50th Anniversary Season. In the meantime, please visit

About Theatre Aquarius: Now in its 50th Season, Aquarius is a gathering place to create and share stories that provoke, delight, inspire and transform. National Centre for New Musicals is a demonstration of its vision to be a hub for creative conversation that celebrates possibility, engages communities, fosters innovation, and ignites future voices. Theatre Aquarius is a registered not-for profit.

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