The Refettorio continues to reshape Sudbury's downtown and theatre scene

The 1960s were a time of turmoil, transition and tremendous tunes. The Beatles wowed us then and their lyrics and melodies still reach us now.

Chant the names of the band members and you can hear their voices and compositions. Paul, Ringo, George, Paul; it is almost a mantra.

Here Comes the Sun: The Music of the Beatles, which opens June 12 at the Refettorio on Durham Street, takes the audience back to the time of the Beatles. It runs until July 5.

This is the second season for this open-air downtown theatre. In year 1, the Refettorio saw the audience dancing in the aisles as they sang along to last year’s Music of Shania Twain and local musician Barry Miles, the orchestrator that helped create that show, is back again.

Concertgoers will hear all the best Beatles hits featuring by YES Theatre performers Maryn Tarini, Jake Deeth, Chloe Theriault and more. Associate artistic director Ruthie Nkut has been lucky enough to hear some of the arrangements for this concert.

“It is unbelievably special," she says. "Barry Miles and Janie Pinard, who created this concert together, are such a creative force and Sudbury is lucky to have them.

“If you love the Beatles, or just want to have a good, fun time outside in the heart of downtown (with some gelato and drinks in hand), you will love this concert.

"It’s frankly one of the coolest, freshest and most exciting pieces of art on our stages this year. Get ready for an amazing season at the Ref, get downtown, visit your favourite restaurant and then come visit us.”

Artistic director - and often still a thespian - Alessandro Costantini offered an opportunity to meet and talk about season 2024.

“It feels like the structure is solid for us as an organization," Costantini says. "The last two years have confirmed (that) our plans result in successes. This summer we are not stressed by the construction process.”

He lets out a sigh of relief.

“Administratively, it runs like a well-oiled machine," Costantini adds. "The shorthand between the artists is more apparent. We know our strengths.

"The other really exciting thing is that we are being acknowledged across Canada. Others are asking how we do what we do. Our subscriptions are up and our audience continues to grow. We have performances people want to see.

“Later in the year, we have Oliver (and) 28 local performers. You know how Sudbury loves musicals. Singable songs. Traditional with a contemporary interpretation.

“The Beatles, though, is first and we are in rehearsals for Chicago (which opens July 11). We all trained together, we know the content and sound. I am not in the early productions, but I am doing a solo in Every Brilliant Thing with its upbeat and super engaging message. It has audience interaction and is very funny and moving. It is a meditation on what makes life beautiful. Such a blast."

Costantini reflects and notes: “We have an aggressive commitment to community theatre. We also deliver more than theatre. The impact we are having collaboratively on the vibrancy of downtown is … well, the street will be animated. It is an exciting time.

"Are we a catalyst of change? I feel like it has never been a better time to be here. We are not fighting to prove ourselves but it is still rigorous work and well worth it. We have a momentum.

YES Theatre will have three shows playing at the Refettorio this season: The Music of the Beatles, Bad Hats Theatre’s Peter Pan, and Every Brilliant Thing starring Alessandro Costantini.

Check the website, yestheatre.com, for showtimes and other shows coming up.

YES has just released a new five-show pass that gives patrons access to the last five shows of the season: Chicago the musical, Oliver the musical and all three Refettorio shows.

Potentially, some evenings you could go to the Ref and then stroll over to the Sudbury Theatre Centre for a mainstage show.

Don’t forget the patio is open at STC Shaughnessy. There is a fire pit, outdoor seating and standing tables.

“Some generous students from Bishop Alexander Carter came and refreshed the landscaping,” Costantini says.

It is a little oasis of calm.

“We will also have Death in Venice gelato back for this season. They were acknowledged as North America’s Best Gelato. There is a truck heading south right now to pick it up for the opening,” Costantini says.

The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.

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Hugh Kruzel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star