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Mirvish Theatre Tours

Throughout history, 21 has often been the age when one could legally drink alcohol or even vote. Certainly, 21 still marks the beginning of adulthood in many cultures. In which case, Mirvish Theatre Tours has fully grown up.

Our first tour was in the first year of the 21st century. The idea was to organize a visit to London for Mirvish theatregoers to promote and nurture their love of theatre by providing access to plays we wouldn’t be able to see in Toronto.

The first week-long theatre-lovers trip happened in February 2000. We saw four shows as a group (although many people saw many other shows on their own), had a walking tour of the West End “Theatreland”, and even took a backstage tour of the legendary Lyceum Theatre, which had been renovated to accommodate the recently opened The Lion King.

Theatre-lover met theatre-lover, lists of favourite shows were compared, opinions were shared, friendships were forged — it was a glorious week of theatre.

So began Mirvish Theatre Tours. Soon there were annual group trips to London and New York, with occasional forays to other cultural capitals — Dublin, for its famous autumn theatre festival; and even Greece, for the Athens Epidaurus Festival, performed in the best-preserved ancient amphitheatre in the world.

Over the past 21 years, we’ve attended world premieres of plays that would go on to be celebrated worldwide. We’ve seen legendary performances from legendary actors. We’ve talked and debated and talked some more.

The last Mirvish trip — the first in its 21st year — was January 26 to February 2, 2020. It had an exceptional playbill — the world premiere of a major new work by Tom Stoppard, a new adaptation of Uncle Vanya featuring an all-star cast, and a radical retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac that made its poetry as current as it would have been in 1897 when it was first performed.

Six weeks after we returned home, a pandemic was declared and the world shut down. It’s as if Mirvish Theatre Tours had suffered an early adulthood crisis, not uncommon when a person realizes a new stage in life is beginning. In time people get over it.

And so it will be with the pandemic. In time the world will return to health and safety. Social life will return. Travel will become available again. And, of course, theatre will resume. It’s been going strong for over 2,500 years; it’s survived bans and wars and plagues and natural disasters of all kinds — and, to paraphrase Sondheim, “It’s still here.”

Here’s a list of all the trips we’ve taken and all the plays we’ve attended. They’ll be more to come.