Come From Away is coming back to Canada – and sooner than expected.
Producer David Mirvish announced Tuesday that the Newfoundland-set musical penned by Torontonians David Hein and Irene Sankoff will return in a Canadian production on Feb. 13 next year at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
It's rare for a Broadway musical to announce a sit-down production in another city before officially opening in New York – which Come From Away, now in previews, does on March 12. But after a sold-out "out-of-town tryout" in Toronto late this past year, Mirvish believes there is much more demand for the show in the city that birthed it – so much that he has, unusually, included the musical in his subscription series for a second year in a row.
"I still have people asking me about it and saying they were sorry they couldn't get tickets," Mirvish says. "If [any subscriber] feels they've seen that, we understand that and we'll let them trade for anything else … but we just think that people will want to see it a second time just from the reaction we had."
Come From Away is part of a seven-show 2017-18 main-stage subscription Mirvish revealed Tuesday morning, along with a three-show Off-Mirvish season of less populist fare and six "bonus" shows not available through subscription.
The other mainstage shows come in pairs from the United States, England and Australia.
Two are tours of recent Broadway productions: the Lincoln Center's Tony-winning revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I directed by Bartlett Sher; and An American in Paris, a new dance musical with a Gershwin brothers score inspired by the 1951 movie musical of the same name.
(McGee Maddox, a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, joins the cast of the latter this April as Jerry Mulligan – the part played by Gene Kelly in the film – and will be with the production when it arrives in Toronto in March of 2018)
From England, the National Theatre of Great Britain will bring its tour of West End hit The Curious Incident of the Dog In Night-Time (directed by War Horse's Marianne Elliott) to town en route to Australia, while the Old Vic's production of Dr. Seuss's The Lorax (in an adaptation by David Greig) will pay a visit.
The two shows that hail from Down Under are North by Northwest, an adaptation of the Hitchcock film directed by Simon Phillips and originally produced at the Melbourne Theatre Company; and Muriel's Wedding: The Musical, which draws on the ABBA catalogue and will have its world premiere in Sydney in November.
The 2017-18 Off-Mirvish season will be all local produce. As previously announced, it will include Fun Home – the 2015 musical based on Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir – in a production from the Musical Stage Company (formerly known as Acting Up Stage) and will be directed by Robert McQueen.
Factory Theatre's recent re-imagining of David French's Newfoundland-set classic Salt-Water Moon – an enchanting production directed by Ravi Jain that received four stars from The Globe and Mail – will get a victory lap as part of Off-Mirvish. "I believe it deserves a larger audience – and putting it in with Fun Home, which won as best musical in its year, it may find audiences for both of them that one wouldn't expect," says Mirvish.
Rounding out that three-show bill, Studio 180 will produce the Toronto premiere of King Charles III – Mike Bartlett's verse drama that imagines the future reign of the current Prince Charles.
A success from a previous Off-Mirvish season will also return as a bonus show in November due to popular demand: Hope and Hell Company's production of Ayad Akhtar's Disgraced, which just finished a run at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton.
But the most notable "bonus" show in 2017-18 is a new tuner that Mirvish doesn't believe needs the audience boost of a subscription slot.
Bat Out of Hell: The Musical, a jukebox musical featuring 17 of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf hits, comes to Ed Mirvish theatre for a two-month run in October, 2017. Though it will arrive after runs in Manchester and London, it is in fact the first production from a new joint venture between Bell Media and Michael Cohl's Iconic Entertainment Studios. (Another Canadian connection: Ottawa's Emma Portner is the choreographer.)
That's not the only show that Mirvish is presenting in conjunction with other Canadian commercial producers.
Sharp-eyed observers will note that the tour of An American in Paris is being presented by Mirvish and Aubrey Dan, whose Dancap Productions challenged Mirvish Productions for dominance of Toronto's commercial theatre industry from 2007 to 2012 – and who once launched a lawsuit in an attempt to block Mirvish from buying the Panasonic and Canon (now Ed Mirvish) theatres on Yonge Street.
It's no news that Dan, who has gone on to become one of the country's foremost theatrical philanthropists, and his erstwhile rival have made up – as his appearances at Mirvish opening nights attest.
"Aubrey was involved in American in Paris before we were: He had invested in it, and we were glad to have someone partner with us and be part of it," says Mirvish. "We have each moved on in our lives."