October 25, 2013 12:30 pm

Von Kuster Hall, London

The Italian Lesson


Music by Lee Hoiby, based on Ruth Draper's monologue

Presented by Diva Lounge Productions


Sonja Gustafson - Mrs. Clancy

with Tanya Ellis, pianist

During her Italian lesson, Mrs. Clancy, among much else, plans a dinner menu, gossips with friends, reprimands her children, greets the new puppy, sends her husband's golf clubs to meet him, finds guests for a box at the opera, orders a new lampshade and has a manicure.

Originally aptly titled "The Busy Mother" by it's creator, Ruth Draper, this hilarious portrayal of a New York society matron is the predecessor to today's reality television housewives, albeit much more productive - almost.

"I urge everyone who can make it to come to this production. It's funny, well sung, well acted, great entertainment!"
- Ernest Redekop




Sonja is an accomplished performer and regular fixture on the London and area music scene. Whether performing in a jazz or classical vein, Sonja is equally at home on the stage. She has been the recipient of many awards for her talents, including both jazz and classical vocalist categories at the London Music Awards and the Jack Richardson Awards respectively.

Sonja has appeared as a featured soloist with Orchestra London, The Victoria Symphony, The Vancouver Island Symphony and the International Symphony Orchestra. Some of her operatic roles include Valencienne in the Merry Widow, Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica, Countess/Page in Rigoletto, Monica in The Medium, the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Miss Silverpeal in the Impresario, and The Widow in The Boor. Some may recognize Sonja from her appearance on Bravo television's Gemini Award – winning Bathroom Divas, in which she was one of 6 finalists chosen from across Canada to participate in a 3-week opera Bootcamp.

As a jazz songstress, Sonja keeps a busy schedule of performances for corporate events, fundraisers, concert series, and festivals. Her discography includes her self-titled jazz album and a double Christmas CD, Comfort & Joy. As founder of Diva Lounge Productions, Sonja is thrilled to be back at the Fringe, starring in her first one-woman show!



Originally from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Tanya has always been surrounded by music and musicians. She began teaching piano at age 12, and continued teaching and performing throughout her youth. Upon graduating secondary school, she spent a year traveling, studying and performing abroad in England, Amsterdam and Israel. Upon returning to Canada, Tanya attended Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., then continued her studies with Dr. John Hess at The University of Western Ontario where she graduated with a Masters of Music degree in Performance and Literature, specializing in accompaniment and chamber music.

Since then, Tanya has worked full time as a vocal coach and collaborative pianist at UWO, where she performs regularly in recital with her collaborators. She has participated in countless master classes with top vocal clinicians Russell Braun, Michael Schade, Mary Lou Fallis and Ted Baerg, to name a few. In 2007, Tanya was privileged to be the pianist for the award-winning production of Menotti's "The Medium" for Diva Lounge Productions at the London Fringe Festival. In 2008, she had great fun as the "pit pianist" for London Musical Theatre's production of "Iolanthe" and recently lent her talents to the Hope for Haiti benefit at New St. James church. Tanya keeps a busy schedule of performing and running her own music studio. She is thrilled to be returning to the Fringe in The Italian Lesson!

Venue Map

Von Kuster Hall

Lambton Drive, University Of Western Ontario, London, ON N6G, Canada
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