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mirvish productions

Save the Date: Mirvish’s Musical 2012/13 Season

The Book of Mormon comes to Toronto in May 2013

Toronto’s biggest producer of theatrical entertainment yesterday announced an all-
singing, all-dancing slate of must-see shows for its upcoming 2012/13 season. Mirvish Productions’ six major stagings comprise an energetic lineup of familiar fare that’s sure
to energize the city’s theatre goers. Check out our photo gallery for a glimpse of what
to expect—and what to come back for!


—Faiza Siddiqui

Hot Date: Sound the Charge to War Horse

OPENS FEBRUARY 10 After his horse is sold to the British Cavalry at the outbreak of World War I, young Albert begins a perilous mission to bring him home in War Horse. This acclaimed play, based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo—and recently turned into a film by Steven Spielberg—is a poignant tale of courage, loyalty and friendship, rounded out by rousing music. The visual showpieces are a set of full-size, incredibly life-like horse puppets, created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, which gallop and charge on stage. Princess of Wales Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 1:30 p.m., $45 to $150; call 416-872-1212 or visit here to reserve seats.

Hot Date: The Blue Dragon’s Culture Clash

JANUARY 10 TO FEBRUARY 19 A Canadian expatriate living in modern-day China finds himself pulled between two women—one from his Eastern present and the other from his Western past. The intriguing story of The Blue Dragon is made even more compelling through graceful dance, powerful performances and stunning cinematic stagecraft, courtesy of Canadian theatre legend Robert Lepage. The Quebec-based artist co-wrote this story with Marie Michaud, as a follow-up to their collaborative work The Dragons’ Trilogy. The two also perform the lead roles alongside dancer Tai Wei Foo. Royal Alexandra Theatre, $25 to $99; call 416-872-1212 or click here for showtimes and tickets.

Dispatch: A Standing Tribute to Ed Mirvish

Blocks of cardboard and sheets of brown paper plastered the Canon Theatre’s facade this morning as dignitaries, actors, singers, members of the media and theatre fans all converged on the hall for a surprise announcement from producer David Mirvish. While the theatre’s exterior had an “under construction” vibe, the lobby, mezzanine, and boxes retained the venue’s elegant art deco opulence.

The audience was treated to a performance from Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, the artists behind the comedy Two Pianos Four Hands, before Mirvish took to the podium for the announcement that explained all that brown paper—as of today the venue shall be known as the Ed Mirvish Theatre.

Ed Mirvish, father to David, made his name in Toronto as a businessman and theatre impresario before his death in 2007. He opened the city’s most famous discount store, Honest Ed’s, in 1948 and went on to buy and refurbish the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1962. The purchase of the Royal Alex marked his, and Toronto’s, presence in the world of theatre. (Mirvish Productions also operates the Princess of Wales and Panasonic theatres.)

A line of singers, actors and even politicians expressed their gratitude for the senior Mirvish’s patronage of the arts, and congratulated his family for establishing a landmark that will serves as an enduring tribute to his legacy.

Michael Burgess, Shirley Douglas and Molly Johnson showed their thanks through on-stage performances, while Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty addressed the crowd via video messages. The event concluded as Mayor Rob Ford unveiled the Ed Mirvish Theatre’s glowing new marquee—a fitting homage to the man who energized Toronto’s theatre scene.

—Rasheed Clarke

Hot Date: Mary Poppins Pops In

The cheery chimney sweep kicks up some dust in Mary Poppins (photo by Joan Marcus)

NOVEMBER 10 TO JANUARY 8 The Broadway magic of Mary Poppins has already enchanted six and a half million people worldwide with its endearing story, unforgettable songs and breathtaking dance numbers. Now Toronto audiences have their chance to see the singing wonder-nanny on stage in this latest offering from Mirvish Productions, which includes tunes such as “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” Rachel Wallace descends with her magic umbrella as the show’s title character, while Canadian Nicolas Dromard takes on the role of Bert, the Cockney jack-of-all-trades. Princess of Wales Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $35 to $130; call 416-872-1212 or visit here for tickets.

Hot Date: Fela Kuti’s Groovin’ for Good Governance

Sahr Ngaujah stars as Fela Kuti in Fela! (photo by Monica Carboni)

OCTOBER 25 TO NOVEMBER 6 Fela Anikulapo Kuti has been described as Che Guevara and Bob Marley rolled into one. A fitting description, as throughout the 1970s and ‘80s Kuti utilized his big band–styled music as a conduit for scathing critiques targeted at the oppressive military regimes in his native Nigeria. The creation of his unique sound and the story of his activism are showcased in Fela!, the hit Broadway musical now on stage in Toronto for a limited engagement. Featuring lively performances, electric choreography by Bill T. Jones, and Kuti’s legendary brand of Afrobeat—a fusion of jazz, funk, rock, and African chants and rhythms that he created with drummer and comrade Tony Allen—this Tony-winning production offers a powerful political statement backed by some of the 20th century’s most vital music. Canon Theatre, Tuesday to Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 2 p.m. and
8 p.m., Sunday 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., $35 to $130; call 416-872-1212 or click here for tickets.

Hot Date: Chess Strategy in Song

photo by Keith Pattinson

OPENS SEPTEMBER 24 The Queen’s Gambit and Perenyi Attack aren’t the only moves in Chess the Musical, which uses song and dance to tell of an American and a Russian competing for the world chess championship. Their contest is both a backdrop for a burgeoning love triangle and an allegorical symbol of political strain during the Cold War. Set to music by ABBA songwriters Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, with lyrics by Tim Rice, this exciting British production comes to Toronto straight from a sold-out tour of the United Kingdom. Princess of Wales Theatre, $35 to $130; call 416-872-1212 or visit here for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

Hot Date: Carrie Fisher’s Juicy Tell-All

Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking (photo by Joan Marcus)

JULY 12 TO AUGUST 21 All-around talented film star, best-selling novelist and acclaimed screenwriter Carrie Fisher brings her award-winning show, Wishful Drinking to Toronto. Best known for her role—and hairdo—as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, Fisher tells the story of her life as a Hollywood celebrity with a wry, witty tone sure to make you laugh. Royal Alexandra Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $35 to $99; call 416-872-1212 or click here to buy.

Hugh Jackman Goes from Screen to Stage

Direct from Tinseltown—by way of Australia, London and Broadway—Hugh Jackman brings his all-singing, all-dancing, all-dramatizing act to T.O. from July 5 to 17.

Following a sold-out premiere engagement in San Francisco, Hugh Jackman returns to the city where he filmed his first Hollywood movie, and he’s brought with him song, dance, drama and tales of life in the spotlight—all part of his show, Hugh Jackman in Concert.

The Australian star is a man of many roles, from the aggressive Wolverine in the X-Men series to an ambitious scientist in The Fountain, so it’s only fitting that he would treat his fans to a unique show that reflects an extensive performance history and his varied talents. Jackman’s career has taken him from productions of Beauty and the Beast and Sunset Boulevard in his native land to a critically acclaimed staging of Oklahoma! in London. More recently, Broadway audiences were captivated by his performance as Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz, which earned him a Tony Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical. He’s even garnered praise as a host of both the Oscars
and Tony Awards.

During this 90-minute show, Toronto viewers can expect the same charm, exuberance and derring-do that Jackman has displayed time and again. His hit-filled repertoire, backed by an 18-piece orchestra, includes such musical-theatre classics as “O What a Beautiful Morning,” “As Time Goes By,” “Staying Alive,” and “Over the Rainbow,” plus an extended Billy Bigelow soliloquy from Carousel. The effusive actor also interacts one-on-one with audience members and offers poignant anecdotes about growing up in Australia, family life and a career spent trodding the boards and in front of the camera.

Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King St. W.), Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $49 to $130; call 416-872-1212 or click here to purchase tickets.

Weekend Roundup, April 22nd to 24th

Friday: See Measha Brueggergosman in La Clemenza di Tito (photo by Bruce Zinger)

Friday, April 22
Opening tonight at the Elgin Theatre, Opera Atelier‘s production of La Clemenza di Tito features star soprano Measha Brueggergosman, male soprano Michael Maniaci and dramatic tenor Kresimir Spicer. Known as Mozart’s “most perfect work,” this opera has everything, from unrequited love to assassination plots.

In celebration of Good Friday, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir performs “Sacred Music for a Sacred Space” at St. Paul’s Basilica this evening. The concert features sacred works by renowned Canadian choral composer, Healey Willan.

All weekend long, Easter EGGstravaganza: Toronto’s Largest Easter Egg Hunt takes place on Centre Island. From 11 a.m.  to 5 p.m., children and families can join in the Easter Bunny for activities and games like basket-making, bouncy castles, face painting, egg painting, a petting zoo and Centreville rides.

Saturday: Get a scare at Ghost Stories (photo courtesy of Mirvish Productions)

Saturday, April 23
Halloween isn’t for another six months, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeing Ghost Stories at the Panasonic Theatre. Not for the faint of heart, this is a thrilling, live horror show best suited for audiences 14 years of age or older. Are you brave enough?

Head out of the city for a day trip to Stratford, Ontario and catch the first of the Stratford Festival’s plays for the upcoming season. Previewing this weekend are Grapes of Wrath, based on the novel by John Steinbeck, and Camelot, the renowned musical about the King Arthur and his questing knights.

Free Earth Day Celebrations take place at Todmorden Mills Heritage Museum and Arts Centre, from noon to 4 p.m. today. Children and families are invited to learn what they can do to help the planet, create environmentally friendly artwork, tour the wildflower preserve, and learn about the impact of industrialization on the Don Valley’s natural landscape.

Sunday: Cheer on Adam Lind and the rest of the Blue Jays

Sunday, April 24
Catch the last of a three-game tilt between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at the Rogers Centre on Sunday at 1 p.m. Before filling up on cracker jacks and hot dogs, go for a casual Easter Sunday brunch at Cora Breakfast & Lunch, just steps away from the stadium.

For something a little fancier, Casa Loma hosts its annual Easter Sunday Royal Brunch, with a smorgasbord including pastries, leg of lamb, salad, pancakes and waffles, pasta, seafood and dessert. There’s even a children’s buffet. Kids can also take part in the “Egg”-citing Hunt on at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m.

Don’t miss your last chance to see In Search of Normal Rockwell’s America, which concludes its run at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection on April 25. This collection juxtaposes Rockwell’s work with that of photojournalist Kevin Rivoli, both telling the story of “everyday life.”

The Lion King Has Returned

photo by Joan Marcus

APRIL 19 TO JUNE 12 Get ready—or should we say “Be Prepared”—to prowl the pride lands as the beloved Disney musical The Lion King roars into Toronto for a limited engagement.

Based on the 1994 animated film of the same name, this enthralling stage show follows an exiled cub named Simba, who must undertake a journey of self-discovery in order to avenge the death of his father. The coming-of-age tale is set to the songs of Tim Rice and Elton John—with additional music by Hans Zimmer, Lebo M and Mark Mancina—including the memorable “Hakuna Matata” and “The Circle of Life.” But what really marks The Lion King as one of modern musical theatre’s most breathtaking achievements are its dazzling sets, colourful costumes, complex choreography and novel use of puppets. Against such backdrops as an elephant graveyard and a wildebeest stampede, actors embody giraffes, gazelles, hyenas and many other animals to bring the Serengeti’s menagerie to vivid life.

photo by Joan Marcus

These elements conspire to ensure the groundbreaking stage show remains enormously popular with audiences around the world. Among its accolades are six 1998 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and status as one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history. More than a decade removed from its debut, the New York City production continues to draw sell-out crowds. (In Toronto, The Lion King’s original run began in 1999 and lasted almost four years.) Its success also earned director Julie Taymor a permanent place on theatre’s A-list. Innovative and inspiring, The Lion King is a not-to-be-missed theatrical event that’s bound to have the entire city singing the songs of the savannah.

Princess of Wales Theatre (300 King St. W.), Tuesday to Friday 7:30 p.m., Saturday
2 and 7:30 p.m., Sunday 1 and 6:30 p.m., $25 to $120; call 416-872-1212 or click here
to purchase tickets.

Hot Date: Theatre in the Buff

APRIL 15 TO MAY 28 Prepare for another taste of English theatrical fare. Like the current success of Billy Elliot the Musical, the heartening and hilarious Calendar Girls is adapted from a hit British film. The latter, however, features an all-Canadian cast comprising an ordinary women’s club that causes an uproar by creating a risqué calendar for charity. This North American premiere leaves no funny bone unexposed. Royal Alexandra Theatre, Tuesday to Saturday 8 p.m., Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 2 p.m., $30 to $94; call 416-872-1212 or click here for tickets.