CHICAGO, AMERICAN IDIOT, Brian Bedford-Led THE LAST CONFESSION & More Added to Mirvish's 50th Anniversary Season
David Mirvish celebrates 50 years of his family producing and presenting theatre by announcing a busy new season of shows for 2013-14. In total, Mirvish Productions will present 18 shows and employ over 500 artists on its four stages in Toronto - the Royal Alexandra, Princess of Wales, Ed Mirvish and Panasonic theatres. This is the largest season Mirvish has ever presented.
"If you had been in this theatre 50 years ago, in September 1963, you would have been settling into your seats for a new comedy called NEVER TOO LATE, directed by the famous George Abbott. This was our first venture into theatre. Dad always insisted that he bought the Royal Alexandra Theatre because it was too good a bargain to pass by. And it was a bargain. The price was almost too low to be believed -- $215,000, which, compared to the $750,000 in construction costs alone in 1907, was an unbelievable bargain. But there was a catch: Whoever bought the theatre had to promise to keep it running as a theatre for at least five more years.
"That clause was enough to drive most purchasers away. Back in 1963, everyone assumed that 'theatre' was dead - mortally wounded by the movies and laid in its coffin by television. No one expected that Ed Mirvish could make a go of theatre. I remember that there was even some speculation that Dad had planned all along to renege on his promise before those five years were up - but that wasn't true; they didn't call him 'Honest Ed' for nothing. Besides, making a go of a business everyone said was doomed was just the sort of challenge to get Dad interested.
"Just before the curtain went up on NEVER TOO LATE, my Dad confessed his nervousness to William Bendix, the show's star. 'I don't know anything about running a theatre,' he said. Bendix kindly replied, 'Ed, I think you're doing just fine.' And William Bendix was right: we did just fine. Audiences loved the show. It closed in the black, and we were all suddenly hooked on this theatre business... and now, those five years my Dad promised have turned into 50. Those 50 years have gone by so quickly, it's hard for me to believe. I have so many wonderful memories.
"But one thing I've learned in 50 years of theatre is that people are far less interested in what you've done, than in what you're going to do next. It's fun to talk about the past, but it's the future that's really exciting."
The upcoming Mirvish season for 2013-14 is divided into two subscription series - the Mirvish Theatre Subscription and the Off-Mirvish Subscription - and eight additional shows not on subscription.
The Mirvish Theatre Subscription has already been announced. It consists of seven shows: LES MISERABLES, Disney's ALADDIN, ONCE, HEARTBEAT OF HOME, ARRABAL, METAMORPHOSIS and THE LAST CONFESSION.
Newly announced is casting for THE LAST CONFESSION. Already announced was that this mystery thriller set in the Vatican would star David Suchet, who has famously played Agatha Christie's Poirot on the long-running TV series seen around the world and who here will play a crusading Cardinal trying to uncover murderous plots in the Vatican. The acclaimed and brilliant Brian Bedford will co-star, a star of the Stratford Festival, Broadway and London's West End. Bedford will play the Pope in THE LAST CONFESSION. This Chichester Festival production, which has already had smash-hit seasons in Chichester and in London's West End, will begin an international tour at the Royal Alexandra Theatre and then go on to Los Angeles and to various cities in Australia and New Zealand.
There is also casting news about the shows in the Off-Mirvish Subscription:
The hilarious, Olivier and Tony Award-winning comedy GOD OF CARNAGE will star four superb Canadian actors: John Bourgeois, Linda Kash, Tony Nappo & Sarah Orenstein.
George F. Walker's new comedy DEAD METAPHOR, which recently had its world premiere in San Francisco to rave reviews, will star many actors who have worked on previous Walker plays: Nancy Beatty, Jerry Franken, Michael Healey, Haley McGee, Noah Reid & Julie Stewart.
The third and final show of the Off-Mirvish Subscription is now ready to be announced. It is a moving, insightful and timely drama from London called THE TWO WORLDS OF CHARLIE F which explores life for returning soldiers of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Created through workshops with 30 wounded, injured and sick ex-service personnel, this truly unique production is performed by medically discharged military personnel and professional actors.
Playing the lead role of Charlie is Cassidy Little, a young Newfoundlander who is a classically trained ballet dancer and moved to the U.K. to pursue a career in the performing arts. Working in standup comedy, on a dare he joined the Royal Marines and ended up fighting in Afghanistan, where he lost his right leg in combat.
THE TWO WORLDS OF CHARLIE F was originally performed at the prestigious Theatre Royal Haymarket in London as a fundraiser. Its success was immediate and the show transferred to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it was awarded the Amnesty International Award for Freedom of Expression. To commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1, the show is embarking on a tour, with Toronto being its North American premiere.
Mirvish has also announced two new shows for its 700-seat Panasonic Theatre:
Making its Canadian premiere will be Henson Alternative's PUPPET UP! - UNCENSORED, playing October 22 to November 3, 2013 at the Panasonic Theatre. PUPPET UP! - UNCENSORED is a wild romp in which the skilled art of puppetry and spontaneous comedy collide. Unpredictable and irreverent, it's never the same show twice. This live uncensored show lets loose the perilous and provocative elements of comedic improvisation on stage with a bunch of puppets from the Jim Henson Company. Expert puppeteers create twisted scenes and songs on the fly, as suggestions from the audience prompt the improvised storylines unfolding on stage. PUPPET UP! - UNCENSORED boasts a cast of six world-class puppeteers in an uninhibited live puppet performance. Touring after its successful Off-Broadway run in New York, the show has drawn rave reviews and overwhelming audience response.
Making its big-stage transfer is a show that began life at this year's Toronto Fringe Festival. THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALS, THE MUSICAL! will play the Panasonic Theatre, December 18, 2013 to January 5, 2014. This affectionate spoof of musicals was the smash-hit of this year's Fringe, winning rave reviews from the critics and playing to sold-out houses.
Finally, Mirvish is delighted to announce the return of five blockbuster musicals that have already played Toronto and become audience favourites. They will return to the city in new touring productions.
Green Day's AMERICAN IDIOT, the groundbreaking Broadway musical, will play the Royal Alexandra Theatre March 11 to 16, 2014.
Perennial favourite, CHICAGO, THE MUSICAL, will play the Princess of Wales Theatre, March 26 to 30, 2014. This time the show will have a hometown hero in a starring role. Olympic skater and three-time world champion Elvis Stojko will make his debut as the slick lawyer Billy Flynn. Said Stojko: "People think of me as only a skater. What they don't know is that I love musicals. Now I finally have the chance to play a great role in one of the greatest musicals of all times. I'm very excited."
RAIN, the Broadway tribute show to the Beatles that has toured the world, will play March 25 to 30, 2014 at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
WE WILL ROCK YOU, the Queen musical, which had its North American premiere in Toronto in 2007 and played for almost three years, will return in a new touring production. It will play April 29 to May 4, 2014 at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.
Closing the season is one of the greatest theatrical creations of all time: Disney's THE LION KING. It returns to its Canadian home, where it had its Canadian premiere and played for four years - the Princess of Wales Theatre. It will play April 30 to June 15, 2014.
Subscriptions are still available for sale.
The 7-Show Mirvish Theatre Subscription is priced at $153 (rear upper balcony) to $639 (front orchestra). The 3-show Off Mirvish Subscription is priced at $99 (rear orchestra) and $149 (front orchestra). Call the Subscription Office at 416-593-4225 or 1-800-771-3933. More subscription information www.mirvish/subscriptions
Single tickets for most shows will go on sale on Monday, September 23, 2013. Single ticket prices range from $19 to $130. Mirvish subscribers receive priority ticket privileges. Call TicketKing at 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333. Online tickets www.mirvish.com.
Photo by Paul Kolnik