Mark Riishede


Mark first fell in love with musicals at the age of 7 when his father let him watch West Side Story on TV, even though his mother thought the content was too mature for him at that time. He saw his first live musical Annie at the McPherson Playhouse that same year. The following year Mark began performing musical theatre at the age of 8 in a revue style show in his home town of Lake Cowichan. His first book musical was at the age of 11 playing Jerome in Cowichan Musical Society’s South Pacific.

As a male soprano he moved to the big city of Victoria and continued performing in community and professional theatre until his voice changed at the age of 15. In 1994 he performed in the Victoria Commonwealth Games under the direction of College Co-Founder Jacques Lemay; select childhood credits include original Canadian musicals Anne of Green Gables, Christmas with Scrooge, and Fire’s Burning.

At the age of 15 Mark left the theatre scene to study abroad at Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School in Japan, where at orientation day he coincidentally met Geneviève Lemay, the daughter of CCPA co-founders Jacques and Janis, and a previous Registrar for the Canadian College of Performing Arts.

Once returning to Canada he continued his private voice training studying RCM Grade 8 Voice with Iris Cooke Chislett. He competed in the PNE Annual Talent search judged by David Foster and placed runner-up with his cousin Samantha Currie (nee McKenna). 20 years later he asked over dinner “I wonder whatever happened with that guy that beat us? Didn’t he win a recording contract or something like that?” only to be met with a puzzled look, and reply “You mean Michael Bublé.”

While attending Lake Cowichan Secondary School his high school musical roles included Kenickie, Grease in Grade 11 and Sid Sorokin, The Pajama Game in Grade 12. After graduating high school, even though he applied for a couple theatre school programs, he eventually decided not pursue a performing career and went on to study Commerce and Information Technology.

In 2007 while working with CCPA alumni Sarah Carlé at the Royal London Wax Museum, he was reluctantly convinced to return to the stage in Victoria Operatic Society’s Hello Dolly! because the company was “desperately looking for more men”, and Carlé (cast as Dolly Levi) knew of his childhood musical theatre experience. After being back on stage after almost 10 years away from it, Mark was once again “bit by the theatre bug”.

Since rejoining the Victoria theatre community he has performed in over 50 productions with Victoria Operatic Society, Victoria Theatre Guild (Langham Court Theatre), Gotta Getta Gimmick, Saltwater Inc. and Urban Arts. When the Royal London Wax Museum shut its doors in 2010 Mark made a career move into Arts Administration, and has worked as the Office Administrator for Victoria Operatic Society and Con Brio Music School; Executive Director for Victoria Academy of Ballet and currently the Registrar for Canadian College of Performing Arts. He has sat on the Board of Directors for local theatre companies Victoria Operatic Society and Gotta Getta Gimmick Arts Society (founded by CCPA alumni as a Second Year Career Management project) where he currently sits as President.

View Photo Credits

photo credit Peter Pokorny