Degrassi celebrates anniversary at CNE
In March of this year, The New York Times declared CTV’s Degrassi: The Next Generation, “Tha best teen TV N da WRLD!”
Loosely translated, the New York Times gave the show two thumbs up.
Syndicated in more than 60 countries, the teen drama has been praised for tackling controversial issues such as pregnancy, abortion, and physical abuse in a realistic way that never preaches to its audience.
On Monday, fans will have a chance to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary with the Degrassi Birthday Bash at the CNE Bandshell. Amongst the highlights will be a Q & A with cast members and an autograph session.
In 1985, with little acting experience under his belt, a then 13-year-old Pat Mastroianni auditioned for, and won the role of, Joey Jerimiah on Degrassi Junior High.
“I was pursuing acting and I had done some catalog modelling,” says Mastroianni about his pre-Degrassi career. “So when I saw the flyer (for the Degrassi audition) when I was in Grade 9, I was literally just a guy off the street.”
Mastroianni and veteran Degrassi actor Stephan Brogren (Snake) will act as emcees for the CNE event while cast members Andrea Lewis, Adamo Ruggiero, Mike Lobel, Sarah Barrable-Tishauer and Miriam McDonald will be on hand for the festivities.
In the late 1970s, producer Linda Schuyler and then partner Kit Wood created The Kids of Degrassi Street movie (which they later turned into a series). Since that time, Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High and now, Degrassi: The Next Generation, have become part of the franchise.
Mastroianni, Brogren as well as Stacie Mistysyn (Caitlin) and Amanda Stepto (Spike) are the surviving cast members from Degrassi Junior High who are part of the current series.
So are the younger cast members in awe of Mastroianni and his iconic TV character?
“No, they don’t care,” laughs the Gemini Award-winning actor who won for Best Actor in a Continuing Dramatic Role in 1988. “Half of them weren’t even born when Degrassi Junior High was on.”
Since 2001, Degrassi: The Next Generation, has been the recipient of more than 20 awards, (such as Gemini Awards), and Schuyler sees this as a morale booster.
“It makes everybody feel like they are working on a show that counts,” she says.
The Degrassi Birthday Bash begins at 7:30 p.m. and the event is free with admission to the CNE.
To find out more about Degrassi, visit http://www.degrassi.tv