Music by John Millard
Lyrics by Tomson Highway
Book by Martha Ross

The Cave is a 75-minute cabaret event that ingeniously addresses the climate crisis. Created by celebrated Canadian Artists  John Millard, Tomson Highway, and Martha Ross, this interspecies song-cycle is told with song and narration through the perspective of animals.


“I was born and raised in the completely natural environment, specifically in Manitoba where it meets Nunavut and Saskatchewan. It was completely safe, and a blissful experience to live in that “garden.”

And a true garden it was.

Now, a half-century later, it is no longer safe to live up there. The reason? Forest fires. Hundreds of them every summer. In Fort McMurray’s fire two summers ago some 2,000 people lost their homes. How many animals lost theirs? The destruction was, and is, gargantuan. That is to say, the current state of global warming is THEIR eviction from the garden. And it is ours.”


A group of animals flee from a vicious forest fire and seek refuge in Bear’s cave. Waiting out the inferno, they reflect on their lives, their lost garden, and their impending doom. These unlikely and singed bedfellows share their stories and take comfort in their newfound community while the fire encroaches.


At times comical, at times dramatic and tragic, the evening is hosted by a wry and charming MC played by the composer, Millard, himself. The four performers sing seventeen stirring songs in English and Cree, playing abstractions of Bear, Moose, Beaver, Skunk, Snake, Wolf, Crow, and Fox. The cabaret band supports the style with wild, beautiful, poignant, and entertaining orchestrations. Part Nightclub, part Cave, the show stimulates discussion about our planet’s precarious survival in the context of exceptional art, offering an affirmative and cathartic experience.

It is a sublime assemblage of multidisciplinary art, showcasing what makes Canada astounding and unique on the international arts landscape. The Cave is as entertaining as its themes are timely and has audiences leaping to their feet.


In September 2018, Soulpepper Theatre hosted a week long workshop of  The Cave in Toronto, Ontario. With performers and musicians, a video crew presented a national webcast test of a selection of the material.

In June 2019, The Cave was part of LUMINATO, Toronto’s International Arts Festival at Soulpepper’s Tank House Theatre. The run sold-out with excellent audience and critical response.

On June 22, 2019, two performances of The Cave were livestreamed to theatres and living rooms from Coast to Coast to Coast in Canada and around the World, reaching communities as close as Toronto and as far as Asan-si, South Korea. Our desire to reach cities and small communities outside of Toronto helped define the spirit of our show.


“The Cave does what the best cabarets do: takes aim at the status quo. A fable told by animals in Cree and English song, we leave The Cave understanding that if we don’t get off our fat complacencies, all life will be lost to the coming inferno.

The creative trio behind The Cave, Tomson Highway, Martha Ross and John Millard are brilliant. They wield song and humour the way a surgeon wields a scalpel. You are so busy enjoying yourself, you don’t feel the cut–not at first. The energy the performers bring to the production is incendiary. Breathtaking!”

Shelagh Rogers
Host/producer CBC Radio
Honorary Witness TRC
Chancellor Emerita University of Victoria

“Daringly conceived and brilliantly performed, Canadian composer John Millard and Cree author Tomson Highway’s heady, mischievous cabaret discovers fraternity in the myth world as our natural one burns.”

Noah Richler

“We’re hearing a lot about the coming climate change apocalypse these days. The worry, of course, is inaction and folks repeating the same concerns over and over to the point that others stop paying attention.

Maybe it’s time to listen to the animals. A garter snake with 77 babies has something to say. So does a workaholic beaver, a surfeit of skunks in a funk, a dog who calls out humans for overconsumption and the oldest creature of them all: a grandmother spider who sings in Cree. All of these creatures and more are hanging out in a super-moody makeshift nightclub in the Distillery District, singing gorgeous songs written by John Millard with lyrics by Cree playwright/national treasure Tomson Highway.”
-Karen Fricker, The Toronto Star ( 3.5 / 4 Stars )

“Ushered in from the holding bar area the audience enters the cave, a dark, almost womb-like space. There’s a lot to love about The Cave… The experience is worth it for the singing and aesthetic alone.”
-Irana Lucas, Mooney on Theatre

January 2021
Vancouver Press quotes:

Colin Thomas (

“The Cave is almost ecstatically entertaining”
“John Millard’s music for The Cave is glorious. And who couldn’t use some gloriousness these days?”
“Playfulness abounds… But there are operatic thrills, too, and heartbreaking lyricism.”

Janet Smith, Stir:

“Messages on climate crisis delivered in a creatively charged cabaret that defies expectations”
“It’s the dark-carnival music and atmosphere that most set apart this production”
“The singing is strong and diverse: Samaras has a flowing, jazz range, and Bickersteth displays rich, operatic chops alongside a lithe physicality for characters like the Lynx.”

Jo Ledingham (

“See it whenever/wherever it goes. Even the online version is stunningly, hauntingly gorgeous.”
“The Cave is never preachy, always entertaining.”
“The Cave is aesthetically spectacular and it’s wonderful that singing animals, usually relegated to Theatre for Young Audiences, have moved to the adult stage where grownups might begin to listen.”

Jay Minter, On the list:

“John Millard’s catchy melodies and Tomson Highways clever and thoughtful lyrics allow the environmental message to impact the audience by putting them in the footsteps of the animals.”

Monika Forberger, Entertainment Vancouver:

“Let’s hope The Cave and its inhabitants come back soon for another visit.”


Interior B.C.

Oct 19   Rotary Arts Centre (Kelowna)
info and tickets >

Oct 20   Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre (Vernon)
info and tickets >

Oct 22   Arts Revelstoke (Revelstoke)
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Oct 25   Kicking Horse Culture (Golden)
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Oct 27   Key City Theatre (Cranbrook)
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Oct 29   Capitol Theatre (Nelson)
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Nov 10 – Nov 20   The Cultch at the Historic Theatre
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