November 1921, in downtown Hamilton! At the Lyric Theatre on Mary Street, a shooting occurred backstage during the run of a touring musical comedy vaudeville “girlie” act. A brand new musical, that explores a bit of bygone real life local history. A ‘jazz era’ Hamilton, that is gone but not forgotten.

UNDER THE APPLE TREE is partly, a recreation of an actual musical comedy vaudeville act, that toured the Keith/Albee and Orpheum vaudeville circuits, in 1920 and 1921. During its week long run in Hamilton, in late November of 1921, a tragedy occurred, when stage hand Jack Grubb, shot chorus girl Cecile Bartley, before turning the gun on himself.

The 2000 seat, Lyric Theatre, later known after 1940, as the Century Theatre, stood at 14 Mary Street, in Hamilton, from 1913 to 2010. It closed as a cinema in September 1989, and was for 31 years, an abandoned shell of its former glory. In the final weeks, that the building stood, Brian Morton, led an eleventh hour campaign, to see it preserved. Part of that work was sharing his extensive research on the history of the building, which included the story of the shooting, and the details of when the Marx Brothers, had once performed at the theatre.

Recent events, like the April 2018 van attack in Toronto by Alek Minnasian, which resulted in the deaths of ten women, and the controversy around the misogynist “Incel Movement”, have given UNDER THE APPLE TREE, which is based upon events that occurred in Hamilton over 96 years ago, a remarkable contemporary relevance. The play, is thus intended, to speak directly to an audience of here and now.

The production, features Susan Robinson, Chris Cracknell, Michelle LaHaise, Claire Shingleton-Smith, Erynn Garland, Brian Morton, and Larry Smith, in its cast. The music and songs in the play, are all “tin pan alley” compositions circa 1918-1920, and were written by Darl MacBoyle and Walter L. Rosemont, who created the music, for the original UNDER THE APPLE TREE, vaudeville sketch in 1920. It is produced, written and directed by Brian Morton, the winner of the 2013 City of Hamilton Arts Award for Theatre; it will be stage-managed by Valerie Van Landschoot.

UNDER THE APPLE TREE is one of fifty productions featured in the 2018 Hamilton Fringe Festival.  The play will be presented at The Zoetic Theatre, 526 Concession Street.

The performance schedule is:

Friday July 20 @ 8:00 pm
Saturday July 21 @ 10:00 pm
Sunday July 22 @ 7:30 pm
Monday July 23 @ 9:30 pm
Tuesday July 24 @ 8:00 pm
Friday July 27 @ 4:30 pm
Sunday July 29 @ 6:30 pm

All tickets are $10 at the door, (a $5 Fringe Backer button is required in order to purchase a ticket). Book in advance by calling the Fringe Info Line at 289-698-2234 or online at  For show information please visit

UNDER THE APPLE TREE contains mature content, simulated violence and loud gun shots:

As per Hamilton Fringe Festival rules – Latecomers will not be admitted to any performance. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.


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