Meanwhile...Our Online Magazine
We continue to get great ideas for our marquee challenge. Check out the selected winners for this week below.
Plus, in this week's edition of Meanwhile: Mirvish Staff share what they're watching on Netflix; a great story about A Chorus Line in the weekly The Archive column, with lots of links to videos you can watch; and even more for you to watch as we do a throwback to some of our favourite videos from the Mirvish YouTube channel. PLUS, subscribe to The Show Must Go On YouTube Channel and catch Love Never Dies this Friday.
We look forward to the time we can all return to the theatre, take our seat and see the curtain rise. In the meanwhile, be well, stay safe and stay strong.
HAKUNA MATATA - WE NEED YOU!
What better wisdom could there be in this day and age than "Hakuna Matata?" It means no worries for the rest of your days.
April 25, 2020 marks the 20 year anniversary of The Lion King opening on the stage of the Princess of Wales Theatre. To help celebrate, we need you!
We'd like to build the world's largest collection of Hakuna Matata videos. From the comfort of your own home we're looking to you to submit your version. You could do a re-enactment or a lip sync. Play an instrument? Let's hear it! We'll share the submissions in an upcoming edition of Meanwhile.
SLOGAN CAMPAIGN WINNERS ANNOUNCED!
Week of April 20, 2020
KEEP CALM THE SHOW WILL (EVENTUALLY) GO ON) by David Shapero
COVER EVERY COUGH, CLEAN EVERY SURFACE, FOLLOW EVERY GUIDELINE by Krystal De Leon
David and Krystal have each won a $100 Mirvish Gift Card and their slogans and names will go up in lights on the marquees of our theatres.
WATCH LOVE NEVER DIES THIS FRIDAY
The Shows Must Go On is a YouTube channel bringing you showtunes, backstage access and full performances from some of the best loved musicals in history!
Each Friday full length performances will be shown. This Friday, April 24 - and for 48 hours after it's posted - Love Never Dies will be shown.
Love Never Dies is one of the 6 shows scheduled on the 2020/2021 Main Subscription Season.
A scene from the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line. (Martha Swope / The New York Public Library)
Cliff Jones wrote us with this story: "Back in 1975 I attended a preview performance of A Chorus Line at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway. A few minutes before the curtain went up, I realized that someone rather famous was sitting in front of me: Lauren Bacall. Once the show started, I was torn equally between two things: a) watching the show, and, b) wanting to touch Ms. Bacall's gorgeous hair. Fortunately, (a) won, because thankfully the show was incredible."
This anecdote prompts us to go back to April 1976 and the international premiere of A Chorus Line at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
The musical was created by former Broadway-dancer-turned-choreographer-and-director Michael Bennett. He was part of group sessions in which Broadway dancers talked about their lives -- how they began dancing; what it was like to be an itinerant dancer who was never the star of a show but always in the background supporting the star; the joys and challenges of having this as a career knowing that it would be a short one completely dependent on being young enough. Bennett saw that this material could make for an unusual but powerful musical. Under the auspices of the Public Theatre, he and his creative team developed the musical through various workshops.
A Chorus Line had its first performance on April 16, 2015 at the Public. The entire run was sold out even before the first performance because word had quickly spread about the show. The reviews were stupendous and the show was transferred to Broadway on July 25, 1975. The rest as they say is history: 9 Tony Awards, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and productions all around the world.
A Chorus Line was revolutionary in its time. It would go on to become a landmark and a turning point for musical theatre. For many years the show held the record for the longest run on Broadway -- at 6.137 performances. (It is now 7th; The Phantom of the Opera is now number one at 13,3780 and counting.)
When it came time for the first international production, Toronto was chosen, specifically the Royal Alex. Bennett was born in Buffalo and new Toronto well. Also, he had worked at the Royal Alex on various other shows, such as Coco starring Katherine Hepburn, which was one of the first shows he choreographed once he had transitioned into a choreographer. The Royal Alex production began in April and went through to July, after which the company flew across the Atlantic and began a long run at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London.
Now, let's illustrate this journey to the past with a series of five very special videos.
1) Hamilton Pays Tribute to A Chorus Line
Forty years later, on April 16, 2015, the company of another musical, that was then in its original run on the Public, paid tribute to A Chorus Line. The new show was called Hamilton and would itself become a landmark and a new turning point for musical theatre.
In this moving video clip, the original company of Hamilton welcomes on stage the original company of A Chorus Line. They perform together one of the great songs from A Chorus Line, "What I Did For Love" -- which over the years has become an anthem for everyone who continues to work in theatre despite all the obstacles, trials, tribulations and heartache.
2) Olivier Awards Performance
For the 2013 Olivier Awards, the cast of the London West End revival of the show filmed this video that then was cut into a live performance at the Palladium Theatre.
3) Baryshnikov Dances A Chorus Line
Mikhail Baryshnikov, with the cast from A Chorus Line, performs the finale "One". Taken from the TV Show "Baryshnikov on Broadway - with Liza Minnelli" from 1980.
4) A Chorus Line Sets its First Longest-Running Record
On September 29, 1983. the show set its first of many longest-running records on Broadway. For the occasion, Michael Bennett created an amazing version of the show's famous finale. It has to be watched to be believed.
5) A Chorus Line in the Time of Covid-19
In this brand new video, members of the various casts of the 2006 Broadway revival of the show perform its opening number, each remotely and virtually, the only way it can be done in this time of self-isolation.
Thanks to everyone who continues to submit their theatre stories. Here's one we thought we'd highlight this week from Merle Zunin.
In the early 90s I purchased tickets to take my father to see Les Misérables at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. The seats were excellent: front row balcony centre. One day, before the show, we received a call from the theatre asking us to please give up our seats in exchange for another night. The caller told my father that this was necessary due to some very important people requiring these seats and the entire row. My father responded saying "Who needs these seats, the Queen of England?" It turned out it was Prince Charles, Princess Diana and their entourage. We laughed so hard after my father's comment.
In the end, we got the same seats on another day, Les Misérables t-shirts and the musical soundtrack. In the end, we had a marvellous time -- my third time seeing the show. It was very special that I got to share this evening with my father who wasn't well and didn’t get out too often.
PHOTO: Ed Mirvish walks with Diana, the Princess of Wales, as they arrive at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto to see Les Misérables in 1991. Courtesy of Mirvish Productions.
Last year from March to May 2019 I spent 65 days at St. Michael's Hospital. Twenty-one of those days were on life support. I was diagnosed with central nervous system lymphoma. When I first woke up from ICU I had left side paralysis. I had to learn to walk, talk and eat again.
While I was receiving chemo we had tickets to Dear Evan Hanson that were purchased prior to getting sick. The doctors and nurses at the hospital postponed my chemo so I could accompany my family to the theatre. It was our first family outing since beating cancer.
It was a great show. It hit home for me and brought on many tears. It will forever be in my memory as a great event during a difficult time for my family.
My children love going to the theatre. For my daughter's 16th birthday in May we bought her tickets to see Hamilton. She is very disappointed that it was cancelled and hopes it will come back. She loves listening to musicals and could probably sing every song from Dear Evan Hanson and Hamilton.
We also look forward to going to Harry Potter when it comes in 2021.
Thank you for everything you do!
- Tanya Jagoe
The big sister story in last week's Meanwhile reminded me of my first visit to the Royal Alex. it would have been in the 1960s. I used to attend a United Way Club on Sherbourne Street and they got us tickets to see The King and I, starring Yul Brenner. We sat in the top right box closest to the stage.
I also remember as a teenager going to see Hair; I still remember the outfit I wore.
I also remember seeing Katherine Hepburn starring as Coco Chanel in a new musical.
At one point we had nine friends subscribing together in the 1990s. Currently there are only four of us still subscribing.
Many, many happy memories.
- Ruth Simpson
Going to see a musical is one of the best things in my life. I love everything about it. From the first note of the overture to the final curtain call. I do not have a favorite musical as I love every single one of them. However, there was one musical that I saw last year that I enjoyed the most. Dear Evan Hansen was one of the most beautiful shows that I ever saw. It touched me deeply as it dealt with anxiety and suicide; things that most people are dealing with right now during this world crisis of COVID-19.
Even though the theatres are closed and people in the theatre are out of jobs, we are all in this together no matter what, and that there is a bright light at the end of this dark tunnel. I cannot wait for the theatres to open again once this crisis has been averted. Until then, keep calm, carry on, and wash your hands.
- Andrea Rabaza
I was an usher at the Pantages Theatre when The Phantom Of The Opera played there. I was working the night that Rebecca Cain, who starred as Christine, got her foot caught in her costume and fell while running to Byron Nease, who played Raoul, the man she loves in the show. As if in slow motion her knee snapped.
It was at the end of act one the scene on the roof. In that scene Christine and Raoul are proclaiming their love for each other. When her knee hit the stage, because of the body microphones the actors were wearing, the audience heard the snap. It echoed throughout the theatre so did her scream of pain that followed the fall.
Raoul picked her up and held her as they continued to sing till the end of act one. At intermission she was rushed to the hospital.
The first understudy had left because she only had to stay through the opening of the show. The second understudy only had to stay till almost the end of act one, so had already left the building as well. There was an actress that usually played a chorus girl in the show who was the third understudy and who never expected to go on. She was costumed during intermission was forced to go on stage as Christine for act two.
She did a great job and got to perform the role for the rest of the week. During this time, the first understudy was rehearsed and then performed the role for the next eight weeks, until Rebecca recovered and was able to rejoin the cast.
There were two heroes that night: Byron Nease, who played Raoul and carried her through the end of act one, and the chorus girl, whose name I don't remember but who stepped up and shone as Christine.
It was a true theatre story of how the show must go on. It was a live theatre experience I will never forget.
- Paul Amato
From the fall of 1947 when I was 10 years old, until the end of the school year 1950, I attended a boarding school in Toronto on Bloor Street just east of Yonge. My family did not live in Toronto so I could not leave the school very often. However, I had an aunt who did live in the city and she was responsible for my first times at a real theatre - The Royal Alexandra!
She took me to see The Barrets of Wimpole Street and I think that the part of Elizabeth was played by Susan Douglas, and a honey-coloured spaniel "played" the part of Flush. During those few years she also took me to see Blackstone the Magician. Twice! The second time was doubly exciting as our seats were in the box to the right of the stage.
My aunt made sure that my education was fuller than just boarding school, and those early visits to the Royal Alex made me the theatre-goer I became as an adult. Hopefully, we can all soon once again feel the magic of the theatre around us.
- Paula Freeman
Do you have a theatre story or memory that you want to share with the world? Share it with us and you could be included in the next edition!
Here is what Mirvish Staff are watching on Netflix.
BEST WORST THING THAT EVER
COULD HAVE HAPPENED
LIVING WITH YOURSELF
GRACE AND FRANKIE
ONCE: Date Night
For years, we have known of many couples that met while watching a theatre performance. I myself know two such couples who are now married and have children.
Of course, people meet in all sorts of places, and often there seems to me no rhyme or reason as to why two people connect and the circumstances under which they first meet.
But because theatre deals with emotions and ideas, and as it always involves storytelling, it is a natural place for strangers to form connections. After all, we all go into a theatre as strangers and as the show begins, we magically all become one entity known as the audience.
So, we decided to find out if the theatre can indeed be structured as a dating service. We sent out emails to our list of theatregoers asking for singles to register and attend a private performance of Once.
As everyone who has seen Once knows, it is a show about a random meeting between two unlikely people that blossoms into a relationship that only comes along once in a lifetime. That's why we decided to gather 1,200 singles for what we think was the world's biggest blind date on Wednesday, June 3, 2015.
While there were glitches that were unexpected -- including some people who were matched with a gender they did not ask for (whether this was human error or a computer glitch, it is still unknown), and some no-shows which meant that there were people sitting beside an empty seat where their date should have been -- the evening generated a festive, celebratory atmosphere.
People dressed up, everyone appeared happy and excited to be there.
The cast, who were an integral part of this experiment, commented that the first 20 minutes of the show were rough, as the vibe from the audience was awkward and uncertain. But as the crowd settled in, the energy changed and the performance connected with the audience in new ways. Some funny lines were greeted with bigger laughs than usual, and the moments when the characters philosophize about missed connections and unrequited love were especially poignant.
At the party afterwards, the atmosphere was even more electric. Those people who hadn't paired up at this point created small impromptu groups of 4 to 8 people who began to share stories.
The party raged on way past midnight.
Blue Man Group: Interview
Blue Man Group is best known for their wildly popular theatrical shows and concerts which combine music, comedy and multimedia theatrics to produce a totally unique form of entertainment. Although it is impossible to describe, people of all ages agree that Blue Man Group's show is an intensely exciting and wildly outrageous experience that leaves the entire audience in a blissful, euphoric state.
Come From Away: The Gander Concert
The Broadway-bound, Canadian-made musical Come From Away tells the story of the events in Gander, NL, from September 11-15, 2001.
To thank the citizens of Gander, many of whom are characters in the musical, the cast and company flew to Gander. Two benefit concerts were presented before the show opens in Toronto and on Broadway.
These are unprecedented circumstances that we are all in. Stress levels are high; anxiety can increase very quickly. It’s always good to stop and take a few breaths.
We take comfort in the story that Come From Away tells about another very difficult time almost 20 years ago. Then, as now, the only way forward was and still is: to all work together, even if that means we do so from at least six-feet distance away
Dear Mirvish Customer Service,
Thank You!! Thank You!! Thank You!! Thank You!!
I am sure you have taken a lot of crap from a lot of crappy customers during this crappy situation. But I for one want to say thanks to you all for your help. My tickets were for March 24th for Hamilton. It was a Christmas gift for my 15 year old daughter. Were we totally saddened about not being able to go, absolutely, but do we know that cancelling the performances was the 100% right thing to do, yes !!
So much like anyone who was missing out, I went through the process of asking for a refund, and it may have taken a little longer than expected, but it did happen. I didn’t feel the need to bother you with calls and emails looking for my money, because I knew it would happen eventually. And Voila, there it is. Processed by two staff members, one to call and leave me a message, (thank you Joanne) and one who answered when I returned the call. (thank you Alex)
I know we will get our performances back someday (hopefully soon), and I will bring my family back to enjoy them. I hope everyone whom you speak with over the next few months will be kind, and understand you are doing the best you can with the volume of patrons you have to deal with.
I just wanted to write a quick email to say Thank you to whoever created the fun trivia game and for the prompt responses I have received. I know it’s a challenging time for everyone but I wanted to send a quick note to show my appreciation. The trivia game is a lot of fun and although it’s only day 2 I do look forward to the email. I also like the “keep calm....” campaign too it’s fun and something to keep our mind thinking of the arts still during this time.