Mirvish Productions, Canada’s largest commercial theatre company, is set to launch a new season of live shows in its four Toronto venues starting in December – in which only fully vaccinated artists and workers will be allowed on stage and backstage.
Audiences will, likewise, be required to be vaccinated to attend, though children under 12 and patrons claiming exemptions will have the option of providing a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of a show, the company said in a long-awaited season announcement released Monday morning.
Come From Away, the international hit Canadian musical, will be one of the first Mirvish productions back on the boards, reopening its pandemic-interrupted record-breaking run at the Royal Alexandra Theatre on Dec. 7.
Leopoldstadt, English master playwright Tom Stoppard’s latest and most personal work, and what’s now being called a pre-Broadway run of the jukebox musical & Juliet, are also among the new shows announced for a 2021-22 Mirvish subscription series.
“Of course none of this would be possible without the tireless efforts of the medical and scientific communities, both locally and around the world,” producer David Mirvish said in a release.
“By creating powerful vaccines they are making it possible for the arts to return in a safe and respectful way.”
John Karastamatis, director of sales and marketing at Mirvish Productions, said he expected Canadian Actors Equity Association and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees would be on board with these vaccine requirements in Toronto, as their counterparts have been on Broadway in New York.
“All the various unions and associations that represent artists and staff at our venues acknowledge our right to keep all workplaces safe, and an integral part of that safety is the protection for all that vaccines provide,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail. “We’ve had no obstacles to this and do not anticipate any.”
As for the audience requirements, Karastamatis wrote that recent provincial and federal announcements led Mirvish Productions to expect “a legitimate and easy-to-use system of vaccination confirmation” would be up and running well before December.
Mirvish Productions’ announcement of a full slate of programming for the first time since it shut down its stages in March, 2020, will be a shot in the arm for Canadian stage artists who have found little work since then.
Three of the productions announced for the 2021-22 subscription season will star Canadian actors: The North American premiere of Room, a play with music based on Emma Donoghue’s bestselling novel (February to April, 2022, at the CAA Theatre, follow a run at the Grand Theatre in London, Ont., in January); an exclusive revival of 2 Pianos, 2 Hands starring its pianist/actor creators Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt (March to May, 2022, at the Princess of Wales); and an open-ended run of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a Broadway hit in two parts that is now being presented in a single performance (beginning June, 2022, at the Ed Mirvish Theatre).
Additionally, Come From Away will return with its Canadian cast – and Boy Falls From the Sky, Jake Epstein’s cabaret in which the Toronto-born actor tells stories drawn from his experiences acting on Broadway and in Degrassi: the Next Generation, will play at the CAA Theatre in January, 2022, as part of what the theatre company calls its Off-Mirvish season.
Mirvish’s announced 2021-22 season also includes several productions from outside of Canada that will necessitate cross-border travel.
A North American tour of an award-winning British production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Jesus Christ Superstar directed by Timothy Sheader is set to play the Ed Mirvish Theatre in December of 2021, while Leopoldstadt will be presented at the Princess of Wales Theatre in January of 2022 in its original pandemic-interrupted production that just reopened on London’s West End earlier this month.
Pressure, a West End drama about weather and D-Day, will feature a British cast led by Downton Abbey’s Kevin Doyle.
“Like all the other shows in our season, the presumption is that by the time they play in our theatres the country’s border will be open, and theatres and other public spaces will be allowed to operate at 100 per cent capacity,” Karastamatis wrote.
& Juliet, a jukebox musical built around Swedish songwriter/producer Max Martin’s greatest hits with a script by the Canadian playwright and Schitt’s Creek writer David West Read, will play a limited run in Toronto at the Princess of Wales starting in July of 2022 before a planned transfer to Broadway; it will be cast in both New York and Toronto.
And what about Hamilton? When the pandemic arrived in North America, Mirvish was in the middle of presenting a touring production of the hip-hop smash at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.
Its fans will have to wait another year for it to return: Mirvish says the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical will be back in Toronto in February, 2023, at the Princess of Wales Theatre this time.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Mirvish 2021-2022 season did not include any shows coming up to Canada from the United States.
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