Meanwhile...Our Online Magazine

  September 1, 2020  

Issue #21

We have made it to September. This year, that feels like a real accomplishment. Usually at this point of the year we'd be delighting in the excitement of reams of loose-leaf and that new-binder smell. But this is 2020, so excitement and joy aren’t where we are right now. Though none of us has been a full-time student in a long time, this year has been schooling us! We're learning resilience and allyship and ultimately, how much more we still have to learn. Hard lessons, but important ones.

We're also learning about finding pleasure where we can. In that vein, thank you to all our readers and listeners who have contributed plot suggestions for Ghosts of the Royal Alex! We never know where you are going to take us and reading and incorporating your ideas has been so much fun. This week Herbie gets closer to the heart of the mystery. We also take a look back at Snail’s journey down the yellow brick road, we check in with SnL for a personal message, and in honour of TIFF we take a look at some musicals that were adapted from movies.

Traditionally, we take a dark week as everyone is busily getting into the groove of new schedules. This year that transition is going to be a bit more arduous, so Meanwhile is going to try out a new schedule too! Look for us every other Tuesday this fall. 

Girl From the North CountryThe cast and crew of Girl From the North Country Broadway were thrilled to participate in Harlem Week 2020 which ran from August 1623. To commemorate, Kimber Elayne Sprawl (Marianne Lane) and the team behind the musical created a music video in and around Harlem.

Ghost Story Chapter 5 podcast titleRead by David Mucci / Length: 19:36

The StoryIn the fifth chapter, Herbie finally meets the mysterious woman he has been pursuing. His experience is both frightening and exciting, and it leads him closer to uncovering the truth of the ghost stories of the theatre. Just joining the story? Catch up here.

The SongLouise Pitre at pianoThe fifth song in the cycle is entitled “Don’t Talk of Love” and is sung by the legendary Louise Pitre. A multi-award-winning actor, Louise starred as Fantine in the Canadian premiere production of Les Misérables, a role she performed in Toronto, on tour across Canada and in the French-language production of the show in Paris. She also created the role of Donna in the North American premiere production of Mamma Mia!, which she performed in Toronto, on tour in the U.S. and in the show’s Broadway premiere, for which she won a Tony Award nomination for best actress in a musical. Most recently she starred as Edith Piaf in Piaf/Dietrich.

Now, enjoy chapter five.

Our Favourite ThingsBy Lianne Wu

Image of fish ball noodles Favourite Local Spot
Jim Chai Kee
270 West Beaver Creek Rd. Richmond Hill

Jim Chai Kee, pronounced “Zeem Zai Gei” in Cantonese, is a small restaurant specializing in Hong Kong wonton noodles. The restaurant has been a long-standing favourite of mine, which I have been going to since childhood. There are few options on their menu, but they know exactly what they’re doing. My go-to order is their shrimp wonton and fish ball noodles. Perhaps not a great place to hang out with friends, but definitely the place to go for a quick no-frills meal. Be sure to use their chili oil sparingly…

Favourite Show

Perhaps one of the most cliché answers to date, but Wicked will forever be one of my favourite shows. Firstly because it was the show that introduced me into the world of theatre, but more importantly because the musical tells a relatable and inspiring story of self-acceptance, friendship, and ambition of a girl who doesn’t fit in. Besides, it’s a prequel to the beloved The Wizard of Oz with some great karaoke tunes, what’s not to love?

Favourite Arts Organization 

The ROM has a little bit of everything, nature, art, and history – it’s incredible. Walking through the exhibits and galleries there’s always something to learn from the different displays and artifacts. Some of my favourite past exhibits include the Christian Dior and Chihuly ones from a few years ago, which were both stunning in their own ways. Now that the ROM has finally reopened, I am excited for my next chance to go back and visit their vast collections!

Film Fest

Once a year, Toronto goes film crazy when the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes over for 10 glorious days at the top of September. We at Mirvish Productions are usually right in the thick of it, with our block of King Street West at the centre of TIFF.

This year, we’re still going to celebrate our love of film – but with a theatrical twist! In honour of TIFF, we’ve curated a list of 10 films – some have actually premiered at film festivals – that were the basis for some of the biggest shows that have played our stages.

You know the musicals, but have you seen the movies they were based on?

Billy Elliot PosterBilly Elliot (2000)
Set in County Durham, England, against the backdrop of the coal miners’ strike of 1984/1985, Billy Elliot is the story of an 11-year-old working class boy who discovers his passion for ballet. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival under a different title – Dancer – but was renamed so as not to confuse audiences with that year’s other festival favourite, Dancer in the Dark. Written by Lee Hall and directed by Stephen Daldry, the film became a surprise hit. A few years later, the pair would go on to create the stage version along with Elton John who wrote the music. The Canadian production of the show played the Ed Mirvish Theatre in 2011.

Hairspray PosterHairspray (1988)
Indie filmmaker John Waters is known for his transgressive cult films such as Pink Flamingos, but it was his 1988 comedy Hairspray – about a “pleasantly plump” teenager who becomes a local dance show TV star in racially segregated Baltimore of 1962 – that launched his mainstream career. It spawned the 2003 Tony-winning Best Musical, which had its own Canadian production at the Princess of Wales Theatre in 2004. The film features Ricki Lake’s star turn as Tracy Turnblad and drag legend Divine as her mother, Edna. 

Kinky Boots PosterKinky Boots (2005)
The Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein Tony-winning Best Musical is based on the 2005 British film of the same name, which in turn is based on a true story. Joel Edgerton plays Charlie, a struggling shoe factory owner in Northampton, England, and Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Lola, a drag queen with whom he forms an unlikely partnership to save the business. The musical’s Canadian production was a Mirvish audience favourite, playing nearly a year at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 2015. 

Mrs Henderson Presents PosterMrs Henderson Presents (2005)
Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins star in this biographical film about the eccentric British socialite Laura Henderson who opened London’s Windmill Theatre in the 1930s and boosted the theatre’s sagging fortunes (and boosted soldiers’ morale during WWII) with a tasteful revue of tableaux nudes. Directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen, Victoria & Abdul) and written by Martin Sherman (Bent), it served as the basis for the West End musical that played the Royal Alexandra Theatre in March 2018. 

Once (2007)
The 2012 Tony-winning Best Musical Once is based on John Carney’s 2007 Irish romantic drama that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova not only star (they play the romantic pairing of a Dublin busker and a young Czech woman), they also wrote the score for the film, including the Oscar-winning “Falling Slowly.” They repeated their composing duties for the stage version, which initially played as a tour stop at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 2013, but was brought back by popular demand in its own Canadian production that played the Ed Mirvish Theatre in 2015. 

Priscilla PosterThe Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
Stephan Elliott’s Aussie comedy was a surprise worldwide hit when it was released in 1994. It follows two drag queens (Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce) and a transgender woman (Terence Stamp) on their cross-country journey through the outback on a run-down tour bus they christen Priscilla. The cult classic film was a natural for a big, brash, colourful, jukebox musical. The musical version made its North American premiere at the Princess of Wales Theatre in the fall of 2010 prior to its Broadway bow. 

School of Rock posterSchool of Rock (2003)
Andrew Lloyd Webber based his Broadway and West End musical on this 2003 box office hit comedy directed by Richard Linklater (Before Sunset, Boyhood). Jack Black plays Dewey Finn, a struggling guitarist who pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school and forms a band with his fifth-grade students to win a Battle of the Bands competition. The Lloyd Webber tuner played the Ed Mirvish Theatre over the 2018 holidays. 

Strictly Ballroom posterStrictly Ballroom (1992)
Strictly Ballroom is Aussie filmmaker and auteur Baz Luhrmann’s directorial debut and won the People’s Choice Award at the 1992 edition of TIFF. Developed from an original short play that Luhrmann had devised while studying at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney, Strictly Ballroom drew elements from his life and the cut-throat world of competitive ballroom dancing. Strictly returned to its theatrical roots in a full-fledged musical that premiered in Sydney in 2014, then had its North American premiere at our Princess of Wales Theatre in 2017 – in a revised version and new production – prior to a London West End run at the Piccadilly Theatre. 

The Band's Visit posterThe Band’s Visit (2007)
This beautiful, languid 2007 Israeli film about the need for connection and cross-cultural relations premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. It tells the story of an Egyptian ceremonial police orchestra that accidentally takes the wrong bus to a small Israeli town and gets stuck there overnight. When the musical’s touring production played the Ed Mirvish Theatre last fall, the film’s original star Sasson Gabay reprised his role on stage. 

Waitress posterWaitress (2007)
The Broadway musical Waitress by singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles (it played the Ed Mirvish Theatre in the summer of 2019) is based on the 2007 American comedy-drama that stars Keri Russell as a waitress trapped in an abusive marriage in small-town America. The film was written and directed by Adrienne Shelly (who also played the featured part of Dawn). Sadly, she was murdered three months before it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Check in From Away
In this week’s Check In From Away, SnL show their appreciation to the fans. Also, they’ll share an update on the new episode schedule.

Looking Back at Snail

The final issue of Snail was published on September 24, 2012. This issue was entirely devoted toThe Wizard of Oz.

Read snail issue #8