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Soulpepper Academy reveals music-oriented 2024 cohort

The 2024 Soulpepper Academy cohort. iPhoto caption: Photo by Dahlia Katz.
/By / Jun 5, 2024

Soulpepper Theatre has revealed this year’s Soulpepper Academy cohort: Alicia Barban, Belinda Corpuz, Ben Kopp, Ruaridh MacDonald, and Haneul Yi.

The paid, 26-week training program aims to develop highly skilled theatre artists who are equipped to make significant contributions to the cultural landscape of Canada. Following the program’s relaunch in 2021 under artistic director Weyni Mengesha’s leadership, the Academy has focused on an inclusive and care-based approach to artistic training. 

This year’s Academy is focused on musical storytelling and creation. Soulpepper continues to attract talent for the Academy from across the country, with the most recent intake receiving over 210 applications. Academy members were chosen for their unique musical talent and their skills as collaborators in musical creation and performance. The Academy curriculum will be taught through rehearsals, classes, studio intensives, and workshops, led by artists such as Ins Choi, d’bi.young anitafrika, and the Bad Hats Theatre ensemble.

The cohort will also headline Soulpepper’s December mainstage production of Alligator Pie, a joyful family show based on the celebrated children’s poems of Dennis Lee, originally created by Academy alumni Ins Choi, Raquel Duffy, Ken Mackenzie, Gregory Prest, and Mike Ross.

“The Academy has always been an artistic cornerstone of Soulpepper,” said Mengesha in a press release. “As an Academy graduate myself, I really believe in the importance of a program that offers a new generation of artists the opportunity to explore, experiment, and push the boundaries of what is possible in theatre.” 

“These five new Academy members are exceptional and musically gifted artists whose curiosity and bold creativity will help us shape the future of the company,” she continued. “I’m excited to watch them learn and grow and share their work with our audiences.”

Meet this year’s Soulpepper Academy ensemble:

Alicia Barban

Alicia Barban is a theatre artist and Blue Jays fan originally from Ottawa. In 2020, she was an apprentice producer with the Musical Stage Company, learning about musical theatre development from all angles. Since then, she has collaborated as a performer on many new Canadian pieces, including Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman and Hawksley Workman’s Almost a Full Moon at the Citadel Theatre.

“I’m so grateful to Soulpepper for this opportunity… and to be granted this creative sanctuary,” said Barban in a press release. “I’m hoping that this experience helps me reawaken my imaginative inner child — the one who climbed the tallest trees and knew magic was real.”

Belinda Corpuz

Belinda Corpuz is a Filipina-Canadian actor, vocalist, musician, creator, and theatre producer, born in the Philippines and raised in Scarborough (Treaty 13). Her EP All I Am has garnered national radio play, including features on CBC Radio. She is a proud member of the award-winning, all-Filipina Tita Collective.

“I’m excited to learn from and create meaningful connections with everyone involved in the Academy this year,” said Corpuz. “I hope to learn more about what it means to be in community with these wonderful groups of artists and the [theatre community] as a whole.”

Ben Kopp

Ben Kopp is a composer, actor, and musician originally from London, Ontario. He is a 2019 graduate of the Toronto Metropolitan University acting program. After the success of his original musical Over Again, Ben wrote the music and lyrics to Killing Time: A Game Show Musical, which earned three Dora Award nominations, including outstanding new musical.

“What I miss most about theatre school is seeing my classmates create the most incredible work, and being inspired to create myself,” said Kopp. “The Soulpepper Academy brings a unique opportunity to be back in that ensemble setting. I am beyond excited to be surrounded by magnificent musicians and creators, including the entire team at Soulpepper.”

Ruaridh MacDonald

Ruaridh MacDonald is a multidisciplinary theatre artist and musician. He was born and raised on Treaty 4 Land in Regina, Saskatchewan. He is a 2017 graduate of Sheridan College’s musical theatre program, and since 2021 has been working in various capacities at Regina’s Globe Theatre.

“I’m looking forward to expanding artistically and collaborating with an ensemble of four other mega-talents,” said MacDonald. “I’m also thrilled to be working in Toronto after nearly 10 years of living and dreaming here — to be doing that at Soulpepper, a company I have studied and revered for a long time, is such a dream come true.”

Haneul Yi

Born in Korea and raised in Africa, Haneul Yi is a Korean-Canadian multi-instrumentalist, actor-musician, and music director. He is a graduate of Sheridan’s musical theatre program and the recipient of the 2021 Jon Kaplan Award. Recent credits include A Year with Frog & Toad (Capitol Theatre), Alice in Wonderland (Soulpepper), and Once (Thousand Islands Playhouse).

Yi is “excited to deeply examine music within the lens of theatre and to break and bend the rules that come along with it,” and “grateful for this wonderful Soulpepper Academy cohort.”

The Soulpepper Academy program takes place from July 2 – December 29. Alligator Pie runs December 11 – 29; tickets are available here.

Liam Donovan

Liam Donovan

Liam is Intermission’s publishing and editorial assistant. Based in Toronto, his writing has appeared in Maisonneuve, This Magazine, NEXT Magazine, and more. He loves the original Super Mario game very much.



  • Wayne Fairhead C.M. Jun 6, 2024

    What an exciting group of talented young artists. Congratulations all and to Soulpepper for this ongoing initiative.

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