For Immediate Release: October 15, 2018
Please add to all Theatre and Calendar Listings
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, 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 and directed by Brian Morton, the winner of the 2013 City of Hamilton Arts Award for Theatre.

Incorporated in 1991 as a non-profit charitable foundation; Theatre Erebus Inc. is the brainchild of Artistic Director Brian Morton to fill a need in Hamilton for a company that entertains, but also provokes thought, explores contemporary Canadian realities, and is unafraid to challenge its audience’s perceptions. Past projects have included David Demchuk’s SUMMER OFFENSIVE (Hamilton Fringe 2007), FUGUE by Rona Munro (Downtown Arts Centre 2007), KRAPP’S LAST TAPE by Samuel Beckett (Hamilton Fringe 2006), ODD JOBS by Frank Moher (Waterdown Memorial Hall Theatre), ETTA JENKS by Marlene Meyer (Hamilton Place Studio Theatre/Tarragon Main-stage), and MY FATHER’S HOUSE by Sylvia Fraser (Dundas Centre for the Arts/Toronto Centre for the Arts). Theatre Erebus also produced a festival of Canadian plays at the 1990 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the plays included the British premieres of: IF BETTY SHOULD RISE by David Demchuk, SCIENTIFIC AMERICANS by John Mighton, THE OCCUPATION OF HEATHER ROSE by Wendy Lill and THE WORKINGMAN by Tom Walmsley.

UNDER THE APPLE TREE, debuted as part of the 2018 Hamilton Fringe, this past July. Other productions include, David B. Fraser’s play MARY, I HAVE HIS PANTS!, which was part of the Hamilton Fringe in 2016. The company, is perhaps best known for, NEW TALENT by Brian Morton, which was the highest grossing show at the 2008 Hamilton Fringe and in 2010 toured to the London and Toronto Fringe Festivals.

In 1988, Brian Morton was the founder and first Artistic Director of Theatre Terra Nova, which operated out of a 100 seat theatre on Dundurn Street, and in 1990 he was a partner in the Evelyn Group which reopened the historic Tivoli Theatre as a venue for live performance with a production of Douglas Rodger’s play HOW COULD YOU, MRS DICK?, which dramatized the story of Hamilton’s notorious Evelyn Dick. His other plays, include his stage adaptation of Sylvia Fraser’s MY FATHER’S HOUSE, which has had four productions to date.

UNDER THE APPLE TREE will be presented at The Pearl Company Theatre, 17 Steven Street. The performance schedule is:

Thursday November 22 @ 8:00 pm
Friday November 23 @ 8:00 pm
Saturday November 24 @ 8:00 pm
Sunday November 25 @ 5:00 pm *Special 97th Anniversary Show
Thursday November 29 @ 8:00 pm
Friday November 30 @ 8:00 pm
Saturday December 1 @ 8:00 pm
Sunday December 2 @ 2:00 pm

Tickets are $20 at the door, (with a $15 concession price for seniors, students and unwaged patrons). The performance on Wednesday November, 28, is PWYC (Pay What You Can). Please book in advance, by calling the Pearl Company Theatre at 905-524-0606. For show information please visit

There will be a special talkback event after the 5pm performance on Sunday November 25th, which is the 97th anniversary of the actual shooting, of Cecile Bartley, by Jack Grubb, at the Lyric Theatre in 1921.

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

Latecomers will not be admitted to any performance. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.


Media Contacts:
Brian Morton: 905-543-8718
Gary Santucci 905-524-0606
“Jack Grubb was not jealous of a man, but of a million men. His rival was Broadway, the world, and every hated audience whose applause spurred Cecile Bartley’s ambitions onward. And this baffled Jack Grubb and turned his love madness, into murder madness…” – UNDER THE APPLE TREE

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