Soulpepper celebrating after New York stint pays off big

Soulpepper on 42nd Street drew critics’ praise and an audience, leaving artistic director Albert Schultz pondering another trip south.

Brendan Wall and Raquel Duffy, center, and other cast in Soulpepper's Spoon River at the Signature Theater in New York, July 7, 2017. (SARA KRULWICH / NYT)

With its month-long “Soulpepper on 42nd Street” season, the Toronto-based company gambled big — and won big. And its artistic director, Albert Schultz, says he’s ready to do it again.

“I can say at this point there was no lose. This was a win-win-win-win-win,” says Schultz, in his first major media interview since arriving back from Manhattan.

Schultz has been wanting to make international connections for the company for a number of years, but attempts to invite producers and artistic directors to Toronto were largely unsuccessful. Trying to have their work invited to international festivals would have involved disentangling one or two shows from their repertory — a very complicated prospect.

And so the big idea became, “Why don’t we skip those steps? . . . Why don’t we find a way to invite ourselves to New York?”

The company brought 12 productions to the Pershing Square Signature Centre on 42nd Street in an undertaking that cost $2.5 million. A tenth of this was hived off from Soulpepper’s annual budget, the rest put together through government grants and private sponsorship — some of which they had in hand, some of which they had to raise.