Onalea Theatrical Productions


Blanche – The Bittersweet Life Of A Wild Prairie Dame

A Theatrical, Poetic Song Cycle


Written and perfomed by Onalea Gilbertson with music by Onalea Gilbertson, Jonathan Lewis and Morag Northey

Directed by Rachel Avery

BEST MUSICAL Nominee – Calgary Theatre Critics Award

BEST PERFORMANCE IN A MUSICAL Nominee – Calgary Theatre Critics Awards

OUTSTANDING MUSICAL DIRECTION Nominee – The Betty Mitchell Awards


BLANCHE is set in the far corner of a 93-year-old woman’s mind. The songs are poetic family movies inspired by the indomitable spirit of a woman who survived the Great Depression, WW II and tragic lost love. Told through the eyes of her Granddaughter, BLANCHE is a mash up of folk, torch, jazz and chamber music; featuring piano, violin, cello and guitar. Blanche’s recorded voice is artfully woven in the soundscape. This exquisitely poignant theatrical song cycle reminds us – If we don’t tell their stories all will be forgotten…



Onalea Gilbertson Vocals/Piano

Jeff Gladstone Guitar/back-up vocals

Jonathan Lewis Violin/Clarinet

Brian Sanders Cello

Joseph Walls Lighting Design

Leif Gilbertson Producer/sound engineer



BLANCHE was originally commissioned by the Banff Centre, was workshopped at the Sunset Theatre and recently had it’s Off Broadway premiere at the 47th Street Theatre as a special event of the New York Musical Theatre Festival in the fall of 2011. BLANCHE played the Capital Fringe in Washington DC (July 2012), FringeNYC (August 2012) and Lunchbox Theatre as a part of the High Performance Rodeo (January 2013).


“…one hell of a play which ranks right up there with the classic Canadian memory musical Billy Bishop Goes to War.”

Louis B. Hobson – Calgary Sun


“…Gilbertson imbues this nostalgic protrait of woman hood with retro glamour, an enchanting stage presence and a silky voice…”

Time Out New York


“ …delicate, penetrating, captivating songs…a simple story beautifully realized…”

Michael Giltz – Huffington Post


“One of the 20 best shows of 2011…”

– Michel Giltz, Huffington Post


“Intimate yet sweeping… haunting and powerful… you found yourself reeling from its emotional punch” – NY




Artist’s site
Blanche – Technical rider
Blanche – High res photo