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The Great Comet's extension will have a ripple effect on the Toronto theatre scene.DAHLIA KATZ/Crow's Theatre

The Great Comet’s long tail is getting even longer in Toronto.

Director Chris Abraham’s hit production of the Dave Malloy musical based on War and Peace - full title: Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 - has been running at Crow’s Theatre in a co-production with the Musical Stage Company since Dec. 5.

Now, on Tuesday, the show is set to announce yet another extension in the 194-seat main space of Crow’s east-end theatre headquarters, to March 10 - which will bring its total number of performances to 106.

This will have a couple of ripple effects on the larger Toronto theatre scene.

For one, Crow’s presentation of the Goodman Theatre, Center Theatre Group, Vineyard Theatre production of Lucas Hnath’s play Dana H. - one of the shows I’ve been most looking forward to in 2024 - will now be moving across town to the Factory Theatre at Bathurst St and Adelaide St W. The run dates will be the same as previously announced: March 12 to April 7.

That move is possible, unfortunately, because Factory cancelled its March run of a new co-written play called In the Kitchen back in January for reasons it has not yet explained publicly or to the press. (The Toronto Star reported that the company said in a letter to donors that the show was being postponed because of “financial pressures.”)

Another effect of The Great Comet’s extensions is that three of its actors - Louise Pitre, Marcus Nance and Lawrence Libor - are being replaced as they have other obligations. (In Pitre’s case, she’s in the cast of The Inheritance, which has just started rehearsals ahead of a March run at Canadian Stage.)

In mid-February, Donna Garner will move up from The Great Comet’s ensemble to play Pitre’s role of Marya - “old-school, a grand dame of Moscow”- a part she has been understudying, while Stratford Festival vet Ben Carlson will take on the roles of Andrey and Bolkonsky and assistant choreographer Tyler Pearse will take on the role of Dolokhov.

Toronto not-for-profit productions such as The Great Comet that take off with the public often have trouble extending owing to the fact that theatre venues in town tend to be booked solid. Before the pandemic, what usually happened was that a popular show might return a season later for an encore run (and have to rebuilt its momentum from scratch).

It’s interesting to watch how Crow’s is juggling its programming to make this rare long run possible - moving Dana H to Factory, after previously finding space for its presentation of L’Amour telle une cathédrale ensevelie at the Fleck Dance Theatre at the Harbourfront Centre, a larger Toronto cultural institution that is having financial difficulties.

Crow’s next show scheduled on its main stage is now Cliff Cardinal’s Huff, from April 23 to 28.

Could The Great Comet run until then? It’s not a cheap show - but its weekly running costs in terms of cast, crew and royalties is slightly less than what a sellout week brings in at the box office.

This is why Crow’s and Musical Stage are being cautious and only extending a week at a time, according to Abraham. He adds: “We’re pretty close to recouping.” That means earning the cost of mounting the production back - which is no mean feat for not-for-profit musical theatre in Toronto - and is encouraging regarding the possibility of a future small-scale commercial production in town.

Highly original documentary theatre in Vancouver this week

Why Not Theatre’s What You Won’t Do For Love - a documentary play about love and the environment starring David Suzuki and his inspiring wife Tara Cullis, which charmed me at Luminato a couple years back - is on stage at the Vancouver Playhouse this week from Feb. 13 to 17. It’s actually quite a romantic night out! (If you and your partner are thinking of not having kids because of the climate crisis, I particularly recommend going to see it.)

CHILD-ish, an off-beat verbatim play by Sunny Drake that draws its text from interviews with 40 kids about love, life and unicorns, is having its world-ish premiere at the Pacific Theatre through March 9. Originally disseminated as a web series during the pandemic, Lois Anderson directs this new on-stage version.

What’s on stage with surtitles across Canada this week

The Flood, a play by Leah-Simone Bowen set in a prison below Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market at the end of the 19th century, is having its world premiere at Montreal’s Centaur Theatre presented by Imago Theatre. All performances to Feb. 25 have French surtitles.

The Waltz, a sweet romance I made a critic’s pick in its premiere at Factory Theatre a couple years ago, opens at GCTC in Ottawa this week. It runs to Feb. 25 - and there are projected surtitles in Tagalog at the 2 p.m. matinee on Feb. 18 and the 8 p.m. performance on Feb. 21.

What’s opening this week in Toronto

Guilt: A Love Story, a new solo show by Diane Flacks about the titular “unshakable monster,” opens at Tarragon Theatre on Valentine’s Day. It’s runs there through March 3 in a production directed by Alisa Palmer.

As I Must Live It, a new spoken-word show by Luke Reece about growing up with a mentally ill father in a mixed-race family, opens to reviewers at Theatre Passe Muraille in a co-production with Modern Times Stage Company on Thursday; it runs to March 2.

Universal Child Care - a new outside-the-box work by the highly creative collective Quote UnQuote about, well, child care - opens to reviewers who can find babysitters at Canadian Stage on Feb. 15, running to Feb. 25. P.S. There are three on-site child care options available for the Feb. 25 matinee.

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