Spring Thaw

Spring Thaw. Toronto revue recurrent annually from 1948 to 1971 and revived in 1980 and 1981. The first production, devised by the New Play Society under Dora Mavor Moore and directed by her son Mavor Moore, opened 1 Apr 1948 and had three performances at the Museum Theatre.

Spring Thaw

Spring Thaw. Toronto revue recurrent annually from 1948 to 1971 and revived in 1980 and 1981. The first production, devised by the New Play Society under Dora Mavor Moore and directed by her son Mavor Moore, opened 1 Apr 1948 and had three performances at the Museum Theatre. The revue's stylistic origins have been attributed to the Arts and Letters Club spring revues locally and to Gratien Gélinas's Fridolinons in Montreal. A combination of topical and satirical songs, dances and skits, mostly on Canadian subjects, Spring Thaw was staged in a succession of Toronto theatres - Museum, Avenue, Radio City, Odeon Fairlawn, Crest, Royal Alexandra, Playhouse, and Global Village. At the height of its success, runs extended into mid-summer and in 1962, 1964, and 1967 it toured Canada.

Spring Thaw was produced by Dora Mavor Moore until 1961, when Mavor Moore bought the production rights. He, in turn, leased them 1966-9 to Robert Johnson, in 1970 to Howard Bateman and John Uren, and in 1971 to Andrew Alexander. The revue's directors included Moore, Brian Macdonald and James de B. Domville, Leon Major, Paxton Whitehead, Don Harron, Moni Yakim, and Robert Swerdlow. Harron (1967) and Swerdlow (1971) wrote their own productions. Songs and skits for the revues were contributed by various composers and writers, including Lucio Agostini, Pierre Berton, Morris Davis, John Fenwick, Harron, Ray Jessel and Marian Grudeff, Keith MacMillan and Ronald Bryden, Ben McPeek, Raymond Pannell, Swerdlow, Frank Tumpane and Godfrey Ridout, and Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster.

Among the performers were Salome Bey, Dinah Christie, Trudy Desmond, Jack Duffy, Don Francks, Barbara Hamilton, Judy Lander, Rich Little, Catherine McKinnon, Margo MacKinnon, Andrew MacMillan, and Dean Regan. In the Canadian Theatre Review, Ross Stuart wrote: 'After the Dumbells, Spring Thaw was the most significant phenomenon in the development of musical theatre in Canada. Although it followed in the tradition of earlier revues, it far excelled them all'.

Attempts in 1976 by Robert Johnson and Tedde Moore (Mavor's daughter) to revive Spring Thaw were not successful, but in 1977 students at York University recreated 30 sketches and songs from Spring Thaw under the title The Review of Revues. A new Spring Thaw, produced and directed by Alan Gordon, toured Canada in 1980; a second Gordon production followed at the Bayview Theatre in Toronto in 1981.


Further Reading

  • Frayne, Trent. 'They kid Canada for fun and profit,' Toronto Star Weekly, 14 Apr 1962

    '"Spring Thaw" calling Canadian composers,' CanComp, 2 Aug 1965

    Batten, Jack. 'Spring Thaw grows up,' Canadian Magazine, 11 Feb 1967

    Franklin, Stephen. 'Don Harron's Spring Thaw,' Weekend, 25 Mar 1967

    Stuart, Ross. 'Song in a minor key: Canada's musical theatre,' Canadian Theatre R, 15, Summer 1977

    Harron, Don. 'Remembering Spring Thaw,' Toronto Life, Apr 1979

    Ross, Val. 'One more flight of the Canada Goose,' Maclean's, 24 Mar 1980