Craig Pike founded the very popular and tasty Craig’s Cookies 10 years ago, but that is just one chocolate chip-sized part of a rather large story. There’s that time he was studying jazz saxophone at university before contemplating the idea of becoming a Catholic priest before moving to Toronto to take up, of course, acting. Now, buoyed by the success of one of the city’s most beloved new food brands, Pike is set to return to the stage in a new production of the fledgling theatre company he founded.
That Theatre Company, a new Toronto non-profit arts organization, is set to debut the two-person play, A Number. The show opens at the St Anne’s Centre (270 Gladstone Ave, Toronto) on April 21 and runs until May 7.
First performed in London, England in 2002, A Number was written by renowned British playwright, Caryl Churchill, and touches on themes of artificial intelligence, human cloning, and family. Pike will produce and star in the sci-fi play alongside critically acclaimed Canadian theatre actor, Jim Mezon.
Some might be surprised to learn that this isn’t Pike’s first theatrical rodeo. Indeed, his arts career goes back a couple of decades long before his dabbling in the sweets science.
“After 20 years working in Canadian Theatre, I’m so thrilled to launch That Theatre Company with this exciting inaugural production,” said Pike. “The team is extraordinary, the script is extraordinary, and the audience experience will be equally as extraordinary. It’s an exciting and fast-paced drama that will be delivered in an intimate setting — making the audience feel like they’re part of the action. Getting to perform it with Jim is a dream come true; he’s been a Canadian theatre icon for over 40 years and someone who’s deeply inspired my acting career. Toronto audiences are in for a treat!”
Pike, originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland where he caught the acting bug, moved to Toronto to attend theatre school at George Brown. Upon embarking on an acting career, Pike ended up doing a five-year stint in Niagara-on-the-Lake at the acclaimed Shaw Festival.
Moving back to the city and settling in the Parkdale neighbourhood, Pike, like any good struggling actor, needed to pay the bills, and that’s when the idea of a Craig’s Cookies shop came up.
“I was just kind of selling cookies for fun on my bike to my friends,” Pike says. “And that turned into me selling cookies on the side of the road or at flea markets. And then, kind of without really knowing it, I was building a brand.”
Around 2015, still in his one-bedroom Parkdale apartment, Pike had a moment of reckoning and came to the realisation that perhaps the cookie business and his interest in the arts could come together.
“I felt like it was going well, people were enjoying the baked goods. And I, for some reason, had this instinct that it would be able to help finance the arts at some point. So, you know, a few years later in 2018 we opened our first location, we’re actually just celebrating our fifth birthday.”
Then, as we all know far too well, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and things went sideways. But, for Pike, being in the cookie business and offering a delicious box of goodness direct to doorways and front porches sans any human contact whatsoever, the business flourished. Now, he’s at five Toronto shops, one Newfoundland location, the first Craig’s Cookies franchise is on the way and Pike is finally making his arts dreams come true.
Pike founded That Arts Group in 2022, which is an umbrella for the high-calibre performance choir dubbed That Choir, a long running singing group that Pike and most recently That Theatre Company. And, of course, That Theatre Company’s first production A Number.
“The play itself is quite provocative. It’s exciting. It’s thrilling,” says Pike, who co-stars in the production alongside his friend and fellow Shaw Festival veteran Jim Mezon. “It’s only an hour and there’s only two of us. So, it’s going to be a really thrilling hour.”
For more information and tickets to A Number go here.