Forte Musical Theatre Guild
Our Story Why We Exist
Calgary’s theatre community has an international reputation for the development of new Canadian plays but when Forte Musical Theatre Guild was founded in 2008, there were very few new musicals being produced in Calgary and many of our young artists who were passionate about musical theatre were leaving to study and work elsewhere.
Joe Slabe founded Forte Musical Theatre to create engaging and intimate evenings of award-winning entertainment and to provide educational and professional development opportunities for students, writers and young professionals to gain experience in this dynamic art form.
Since then, Forte has launched the careers of performers, technicians and writers, and employed dozens of artists in our award-winning productions. Forte enriches Calgary's cultural landscape with its programming and makes it possible for musical theatre artists to train and work locally.
In 2014, JP Thibodeau directed Touch Me: Songs for a (dis)Connected Age and the production was awarded the Calgary Critics’ Award for Best Production of a Musical. The next year, he directed Forte’s production of Naughty but Nice! and JP was honoured with the Calgary Critics’ Award for Best Director of a Musical.
"Working with Forte has allowed me to truly come into my own as a director. Their willingness and thirst for taking emerging artists and showcasing them is what makes working with them so special. Sharing the talents of tomorrow, today. " — JP Thibodeau, Director
Our Impact What We Do
Forte Musical Theatre Guild is a company on the leading edge of musical theatre in Canada. We are the only professional company in Western Canada dedicated exclusively to new musicals and, with our stable of established and emerging artists, we create intimate and engaging new Canadian musicals.
Forte aims to achieve an international reputation in new musicals and took our first step in this direction by staging Crossing Swords at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2013. Forte’s production of Crossing Swords won five festival awards including Best Book and the Theater for the American Musical Prize for Outstanding Integration of Book, Music and Lyrics. As a result of our festival appearance, Crossing Swords will be produced at a major regional theatre in New Jersey in April of 2016.
Locally, Forte produces one or two new musicals a year for Calgary audiences and has been nominated for Outstanding Production of a Musical by the Betty Mitchell Awards in each of the last five years. Forte is the only company in Calgary to be nominated in this category five years in a row.
Forte also employs both established and emerging artists in our shows and many of them have been honoured with nominations and awards, including Allison Lynch Griffiths – cast member in Forte’s productions of Twisted and Maria Rasputin Presents.
"Working with Forte has opened a whole lot of doors for me. Not only have I grown as an actor and singer by performing and working with world class artists in Forte productions, but I've had the opportunity to showcase my own songwriting, for which I received a Betty Mitchell Award. The work that has come my way since is in no small part because of those opportunities Forte provided me as an emerging artist." – Allison Lynch Griffiths, Actor
Our Programs How We Do It
Forte’s primary programming is the production of new Canadian musicals and we accept submissions from professional writers from across the country and beyond. The musicals Twisted, Touch Me: Songs for a (dis)Connected Age and Naughty but Nice! were created by curating song submissions into evenings on the themes of unconventional relationships, the impact of technology in our lives, and the holiday season, respectively.
Forte has also partnered with the Alberta Playwrights’ Network to offer classes in musical theatre writing, and gives student performances and master classes in conjunction with Calgary high schools. This, in addition to our work with professional artists, cultivates both new and emerging talent.
"Forte not only gave me an opportunity to have my writing and music seen on the stage, but has continued to provide motivation, support and encouragement for me to continue writing and composing new works." - Dan Perrott, Writer and Composer
Our Past Shows
2015 Naughty but Nice! - A seasonal treat that knows that Santa’s Your Daddy and that there’s nothing better than Bailey’s for Breakfast! Winner of two Calgary Critics' Awards, Naughty but Nice! featured 21 new songs and arrangements by composers from Calgary, Toronto, New York and London, UK.
2014 Touch Me: Songs for a (dis)Connected Age is a one-act musical revue featuring songs composed by writers from across Canada. Funny, tuneful and sometimes poignant, "Touch Me" is bound to get you thinking about the connections in your life. Winner of the Calgary Critics' Award for Best Production of a Musical!
2013 Crossing Swords - Forte’s first stab at producing internationally saw Crossing Swords (previously Jeremy de Bergerac) play the 2013 New York Musical Theatre Festival where it won the Awards for Excellence in Writing (Book), Direction, Musical Direction, Individual Performance and the Theatre for the American Musical Prize!
2013 Maria Rasputin Presents - At the end of her life, Maria Rasputin puts on one last performance in an attempt to rehabilitate her father's infamous legacy. But will the persistent voice of his assassin ruin her plans? Nominated for both Outstanding Production of a Musical and Outstanding New Play by the Betty Mitchell Awards
2012 Jeremy de Bergerac - When the boys from St. Mark’s and the girls from St. Anne’s come together to present “Cyrano de Bergerac”, romance blossoms, secrets are revealed and everyone learns that sometimes being yourself is the most heroic act of all. Nominated for three Calgary Critics' Awards and five Betty Mitchell Awards including Outstanding Production of a Musical and Outstanding New Play.
2011 Title of Show - Forte was thrilled to bring this funny and heartfelt show about chasing your dreams to Calgary audiences.
2011 Twisted - An evening of songs about unconventional relationships all by Calgary composers! Whatever the quirks, the quibbles, the kooks, the kinks, chances are good that something in Twisted will be familiar. After all, who has ever had a relationship without a twist?
2010 Austentatious - After sell-out runs and critical raves in London, Philly, New York (Off Broadway) and London again, Austentatious, a show co-written by our very own Artistic Director, Joe Slabe, came to Calgary to make its Canadian premiere!
2009 but this IS my day job... - Forte's very first production was a musical revue featuring songs from musicals that had never had professional productions in Calgary and featured the work of composers from Calgary and around the world.
Our Requests What You Can Do
Forte has accomplished a lot in the past six years but we couldn't have done it without the support of our donors and volunteers!
Ticket revenues typically only pay for a third to a half of our production expenses so we are grateful to the many individuals and corporations who have donated time, money and services to us over the years.
Your tax-deductible donation helps us to transform the musical theatre community in Calgary by allowing us to continue to hire acclaimed performers, designers and craftspeople as well as cultivate new talent through our apprentice and mentorship programs.
Forte also provides numerous opportunities for volunteer support at various commitment levels. Whether it's serving as a member of our board of directors, volunteering at one of our casinos, or ushering for our productions, we're grateful for the help Calgarians have given in the past and encourage you to consider volunteering for us in the future. Together, we're creating shows that nurture and showcase the very best Calgary talent while contributing to a lively cultural scene where performers can choose to live and work in our dynamic city.
"I know I’ve said it before and I know I’ll be saying it again but these Forte shows, as well as being highly entertaining, are a reminder of just how much homegrown talent we have and kudos to Joe Slabe for consistently showcasing it." Louis B. Hobson, The Calgary Sun
"Forte Musical Theatre is a wonderful professional company dedicated to debuting new musical works and fostering new talent. I am forever grateful to Forte for taking a chance on me as a young, emerging artist. By including seasoned professionals and new artists together, they foster a safe place to learn, grow, receive mentorship while performing new, exciting work." - Selina Wong, Actor