Meanwhile...Our Online Magazine
Last week we called on you to submit your videos of Hakuna Matata in order to help celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Disney's The Lion King opening in Toronto. This exercise inspired a theme for this week's Meanwhile: Superfans.
In this week's edition we explore the phenomenon of the Superfan. We share the compilation of videos submitted for Hakuna Matata, we reminisce with the original Toronto cast about their memories from opening night (wouldn't you know it, each and every one talks about the fans). We also introduce a brand new feature brought to you by cast members of Come From Away called, Check In From Away. Finally, here are this week's Slogan Campaign winners!
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.
HAPPY 20TH ANNIVERSARY TO THE LION KING!
Thank you to SUPERFAN Bridget Miller - "Just wanted to say Happy 20th Anniversary to The Lion King at the Princess of Wales Theatre! I'm such a huge fan and wanted to send my nail art over for your Hakuna Matata celebration!!" 🧡
HAKUNA MATATA VIDEO
Last week we asked you to submit your videos performing Hakuna Matata. And here they are! Enjoy.
CELEBRATE WITH CAST MEMORIES & PHOTOS
April 25, 2000 – it feels like a lifetime away and at the same time, like only yesterday. That was the day that Disney’s The Lion King had its gala opening night at the Princess of Wales Theatre. It truly was a remarkable night, especially for the cast, who had rehearsed for six weeks (in a massive converted church on Roncesvalles Ave., that is now the base of a luxury condo building) before transferring to the theatre for two weeks of technical rehearsals. The first preview was on March 31, 2000.
It was an early curtain on opening night – 6:30 PM – so that there would be plenty of time for the post-show party. For the occasion, Mirvish Productions had rented the entire CN Tower, all 553 meters of it. Hundreds of decorators and caterers spent the day transforming all levels of the Toronto landmark into an elegant party venue for the cast, orchestra, crew, staff and their special opening night guests – in all, 2,200 people.
The evening began with the traditional red carpet, which was laid down King St. Among the boldface names that walked the carpet were the award-winning director of the show, Julie Taymor and its choreographer, Garth Fagan; the heads of Disney Theatrical; Lieutenant-Governor Hilary Weston; Maple Leaf hockey stars (who the night before had beaten the Ottawa Senators to win the first round of the NHL playoffs); and prominent actors, writers, directors and producers.
The crush of photographers and videographers meant the guest line into the theatre did not move quickly. The car carrying legendary actress Shirley Douglas and her son Kiefer Sutherland had to keep circling the block until there was an opening at the curb for them to step out.
Speaking to the Globe and Mail on the red carpet, David Mirvish said:
This is our biggest night so far. I'm excited, but all the butterflies are flying in formation.
As the CN Tower is only four blocks away from the theatre, after the rapturous ovation for the cast, the opening night crowd strolled down John St., which had been closed to traffic for the occasion and turned into a pedestrian walkway, complete with drummers and torch bearers. It felt almost like a parade of humanity (as opposed to the parade of the animals that is famously the show’s opening scene).
We asked some of the original cast members to share their memories of the show and especially of that special night.
Make sure you also view the photo gallery that accompanies this story. All the photos are courtesy of the cast. There are photos of the rehearsals, of opening night, of various cast social events, of meetings with celebrities who attended the show over the years, and of other occasions. Some of the photos correspond to the cast’s stories, such as Saskia Garel’s reference to the dazzling blue “princess” dress that she wore to the opening night.
Carmen Ruby Floyd – Shenzi
It was my first time living on my own, in a new apartment, city and country. Buffalo is my hometown. It’s a big place but nothing like Toronto – which is a big city filled with all kinds of people, and I was deliriously happy to be one of them!
I had auditioned for The Lion King when I was still a student at college. When I got the call with the offer of playing Shenzi I knew it was an opportunity I could not pass up. So I put off graduating from college and instead got my union card and became a professional working actor, all because of The Lion King.
I am an only child but I was never lonely growing up, and this would carry me through to my opening night of the show.
On the first day of rehearsal, as is the tradition, the entire cast sat at tables for the first read-through of the script. I knew no one except the creative team, headed by director Julie Taymor. The cast was almost all Canadian, and all of them seemed to know each other. There were also some South African actors who knew each other. I was one of two actors from the U.S., and I didn’t know the other one.
I was quiet, which is not like me. I had just cut my hair, left school and I was scared. I sat with my 'hyena' crew, Bill Perry (who played Ed) and Jason Lee Jackson (who played Banzai). I had just met them that morning.
Before the read-through had begun, I believe it was Jeff who said, "When a song comes up, if you know it, sing it, if not, we will."
The read-through began. Phinda Mtya-Matlala, who played Rafiki, began with the opening call of “The Circle of Life” and the rest of the South Africans joined in.
Right then, I died, went to heaven and came back to hear more!
And I thought - What is happening? Everyone is so wonderful and poised and perfect already!
I was seriously dreading my turn. I had no idea if Jason and Bill and I had any chemistry, but thankfully everyone laughed after our scene. And when I sang my first song I received a lot of beaming, smiling faces.
When the read-through of the first act ended we stopped for a break. I stayed in my seat. Then Phinda, Tsidii and some of the other ladies walked over to me, and in the coolest accent ever Phinda said, ‘Have you got a voice on you, girl!’
And that was the second time I died that day.
For the opening, my Aunt Pam organized a bus (and a few cars too) full of family and friends to witness the first opening night of my career. That's right, at least 30 family members drove up to celebrate with me. What an absolute joy!
The crowning touch of the night was when my mom, just as she was about to shuffle back to Buffalo, took me aside and said, “This is your graduation. Congratulations.”
For more information about Carmen, check out her website: https://carmenruby.com/
Eugene A. Clark – Mufasa
I remember the opening night of Disney's The Lion King at the Princess of Wales Theatre as being a magical and amazing evening.
The air was electric with excitement, hope and promise.
The roar of the audience at the curtain call and the sheer joy expressed on faces of the 2,000 spectators in the theatre made the hard work of the actors, crew and production team worthwhile.
I remember how absolutely stunning and radiant our director, Julie Taymor, looked. She looked like the superstar she is.
Ed Mirvish was so full of joy that he looked 30 years younger and moved with an extra bounce to his step.
For more information about Eugene, check out his website: https://www.eugeneaclark.com/
Steven Allerick – Simba
My honest memory of the opening night was that magical feeling of things coming together—rehearsals and hard work pulling together in that way that you can’t ever expect. The cast was like family and the energy of the audience was unforgettable.
Although the night was a blur to me in many ways, I remember hugging Julie Taymor after the show. She was beaming.
I also remember getting ready for the opening night party, and the cast going together to the CN Tower.
I went with Eugene Clark (with whom I shared a dressing room and who is still a friend of mine!) and he said to me, “I’m walking into the party with you!” In my young, naïve mind, I couldn’t understand why, so I asked him. He said, “You’ll see.”
What followed was incredible and surreal. As I opened the front doors to the base of the CN Tower a mob of press turned at the same time, seemingly acting as one. I heard someone yell out, “There he is!” Then they rushed me.
I looked at Eugene, who just smiled at me. And I did press interviews the entire night! All night!
By the time I took the elevator to the viewing floors above the clouds, the ice sculptures had melted, the food was almost all gone, and all the ladies were taking off their heels because of all the dancing they had done.
My family kept telling me how it was the best party they’d been to.
I missed all of it. But it didn’t matter. The show was more important to me than the party.
Being downstairs doing the interviews made me feel as though I was a small but significant part of something bigger than I could have ever imagined.
For more information about Steven, check out his website: http://stevenallerick.com/
Saskia Garel – Nala
My first memory is being flown to New York to audition for Julie Taymor. When I walked in the room, I overheard her say, "She's so cute!!"
On the first day of rehearsals in Toronto, I was so nervous I squeezed Steven’s (Allerick, who was Simba) leg during the read-through and confessed, "I'm not an actress!" He did the same and said to me, "I'm not a singer!"
On opening night I remember the incredible energy and the glorious party afterwards – fantastic food and dancing! I also remember all the press interviews we did after the show. All night long, I felt like a princess in my blue dress.
I have a few strong memories of all the years performing in the show.
At one performance, I jumped a few lines between myself and Pumbaa and Timon. Realizing my mistake, I tried indicating to them with a piercing look in my eyes to continue with the scene, because I couldn't possibly go back. It was a "who's on first, what's on second" type of interaction and there was no saving it. We just had to move on. Little did I realize that in my panic I had failed to consider everyone else in the show, whose cues had now all changed. I could see them in the wings franticly trying to change into their costumes for their next scenes with the help of their dressers.
Another time, I was entering the stage on the "sunshine" chords at the end of the show, but it was taking longer than usual! The orchestra had to hold a chord for what seemed like three weeks and then finally, Simba’s understudy, Gavin Hope, who was playing the role that night, entered the stage with no mask and with scratches and blood around his neck and chest. I remember thinking how realistic it looked because in the story Simba had just fought Scar and the hyenas in the previous scene. I thought, wow, they are trying something new tonight.
Then I saw the look on Gavin's face of pure and utter shock. Later I learned that the in the scene prior, in which Simba is “flown” out of the action and into the fly tower above the stage, the wires that were used to “fly” him had inadvertently become wrapped around his neck. The crew guys who were controlling the flying were motioning to him to let go of the wires so they could let him down. Eventually he did, despite them being wrapped around his neck. Thankfully he wasn't too badly hurt.
Another time, while Simba (Steven) was up on Pride Rock about to admit he felt responsible for Mufasa's death, a man in the first row let out a burp/fart/sneeze, or some other sound from an orifice, that was louder than anything I'd ever heard in my life.
I was in a frozen position, looking up at Simba on the rock, but at that moment I turned my head around to see what had transpired in the first row (because surely someone had exploded), and then snapped my head back at Simba, all in full character as a lioness.
I could see that Steven could not say his line because he wanted to laugh so hard. All the other actors on stage, including me, started to shake uncontrollably with silent laughter, but could somewhat hide it because our backs were to the audience. Steven, however, was the only one facing the audience, and he could also see his giggly cast-mates. And he had a line to deliver, the most serious line of the show.
Still another time, I remember that in the middle of “Endless Night”, Steven's biggest solo song of the show, the Timon puppet fell from the rafters right onto the stage behind him. It had gotten stuck there from the scene prior and just happened to fall when Simba was singing to his father Mufasa. "You promised you'd be there, whenever I needed you!" Bonk.
I remember groups of us going for lunch or dinner together at the Red Devil and just singing our hearts out to the delight of the patrons around us. One time we played a practical joke on one particular cast member on her birthday. While she was in the washroom, we quickly paid the bill. When she returned, we pretended to dine and dash. She was soooooo embarrassed and upset. Was that mean of us? Or was it funny?
I remember many nights sneaking to the back of the audience with Steven to watch the opening number and being completely mesmerized and in awe of the costumes and the set and the fact that there were so many people of colour in our show.
Finally, I remember the time when Steven was leaving the show and on his last performance I was singing “Shadowland” and was extremely emotional. Someone later told me they had never heard anyone sing like that before.
A few years later I ended up marrying my Simba. Steven and I have been married for 14 years and have two kids: Tristan, our son, is almost 13 and Micaiah, our daughter, just turned 8.
For more about Saskia and to listen to her music go to: http://www.saskiagarel.net
Mark Terene – Pumbaa
I was Pumbaa for two and a half years in the original cast of the Toronto production of The Lion King.
What lingers in my heart was the camaraderie, and the feeling of family that was always a part of each performance.
We came together eight times a week to present this amazing story. It was not the easiest of shows to perform; there were many physical challenges, especially for the ensemble. But each performance was a triumph for our collective spirit. We loved the show, its characters and each other.
We also came together two other times to do fundraisers for cancer research and for a sanctuary for children infected by HIV Aids in Toffentien, South Africa. Both were successful. We were proud to help. The talent that everyone shared made a big difference for these charities.
I am still in contact with many of my Lion King family, in Canada, the U.S and South Africa.
The show was a gift in so many ways for me, my family and the friends I shared the stage with at the Princess of Wales Theatre every night.
My memory from opening night: The entire CN tower was ours to enjoy. Each level had a different theme with different foods and music. Amazing!
Jonathan Wilson – Timon
I have such wonderful memories of that time and that opening night.
After a long audition process, I was told I had the part of Timon and I was able to go to New York to see the Broadway production before we started rehearsing. In that pre-YouTube world we only had fragmented ideas and images of what the show looked and felt like.
My twin sister came with me and we sat there overwhelmed with the magic and sheer artistry of the production. Honestly, I had a slight panic attack after the show convincing myself Julie Taymor had made a mistake in hiring me. How was I ever going to develop such intricate puppeteering skills and finesse? And was I up to the physical rigours of the show?
My sister calmed me down and reminded me there was a long rehearsal process ahead and I would be fine. Of course, she was right. Being surrounded and supported by this amazing team of artists was incredible, and performing this show was like being allowed to step into a dream every night. And then work your ass off! But a dream.
Opening night was magical of course. The audience was enthralled from the first note of music (as they were every night). And the thunderous applause at the curtain call rocked the Princess of Wales Theatre. As we left the theatre we could see that John St. was lit with torches and the whole city seemed to be celebrating with us as we walked to the CN Tower for the opening night party.
One of the first people I saw getting out of the elevator was a smiling Julie Taymor. “Jonathan!" She said. "My Timon!” Then she gave me a painting she had done that was an imagining of Timon morphed from a man with a puppet to the character in one singular form.
The rest of the night was a wonderful celebration of the rehearsal work we had done, and it was a reminder of the eight-shows-a-week road ahead.
My other favourite memory of that opening night is being able to share it with my mother and sisters, brother-in-law and niece. As we held together for pictures, the revolving restaurant atop the CN Tower continued to spin, half of my family was stationery as the other half started to rotate away. We had to keep readjusting and continue to reset in a line only to be split again, laughing the whole time.
As we pulled together for one last picture, my twin Christine pulled me close, looked me in the eye and said, “I told you, you could do it! I had no doubts.”
Phinda Mtya-Matlala – Rafiki
I was never more scared in my life than the opening night of The Lion King in Toronto. This was the hugest platform in my entire career! And I was afraid of doing something to disappoint the whole production.
Particularly, I was terrified that somehow I would trip or fall on stage because of a story I had heard from Lebo (Lebo Morake, one of the show’s composers).
My prayer every night before going on stage was to remind God to hold me up. If I forgot to do the prayer, I would sweat bucket loads.
Thank you ever so much for the opportunity to be in this show. I pray I don’t leave this earth before I find a way to work with all of you just one more time!
Qamata anibusise – God bless you (in Xhosa).
Jeffrey Kuhn – Zazu
All I have to say about The Lion King is Richard McMillan, Richard McMillan, Richard McMillan.
Towering talent, giant of a human being. Sharing that stage, that dressing room, that year with him made me a better actor, person, friend. He defined the entire experience and led that company like a hero.
The laughter and joy we shared, along with the amazing Lisa Sheaves, our dresser, made it an unforgettable time.
I loved/love that entire company.
(Editor: Richard McMillan was one of Canada’s leading actors and starred as Scar. After a long and illustrious career on stage and screen, he passed away from cancer in 2017 at the age of 65.)
Christine Sahely – Ensemble member, Sarabi, Nala Understudy
We started rehearsals on February 7, 2000, previews began March 31, 2000 and the opening night was April 25, 2000. The show closed on January 7, 2004.
I was so lucky to be an original cast member and to experience rehearsing, mounting and performing the show for almost four incredible years.
I started out as an ensemble member. My track combined two from the original Broadway production – one singing track and one dancing track. So, I was very busy at each performance. When I wasn’t on stage, I was backstage changing into my next costume.
I was a zebra, grass head, dancer lioness, singer lioness, hyena, offstage singer, puppeteer, human (yes, an actual human character), loopy plant, wildebeest – some of them multiple times during the show.
I learnt the show from Aubrey Lynch, an Alvin Ailey dancer who was an original cast member in the Broadway production. That alone was spine tingling. Plus working with Julie Taymor and Garth Fagan was, well, there are no words really.
Later on, I got to be Sarabi and to understudy Nala.
This show had a huge cast and crew. Every single person was vital in the smooth running of it. I made lifelong friends who are truly the closest friends to me now.
All four years were a roller coaster of life experiences and unbridled joy – with some injuries thrown in. Interestingly, my injuries are what got me into the gym and lifting weights, which is a huge passion in my life now.
On opening night, there were two red carpets – one in front of the theatre for all the guests that night and another behind the theatre, leading to the stage door, for all the cast, musicians, crew and staff. It made all of us feel very special.
That night, I decided to wear a tiger-print shirt to go the theatre. Of course, there are no tigers in the show, but it was a tiny nod to the animal kingdom the show celebrates.
Before the show, a meeting was called for the entire cast with the creative team and producers. It wasn’t a serious meeting. It was just a chance for all of us to mark the occasion before we performed that night. The energy was palpable.
After the show, I changed into party clothes and joined the rest of the cast so we could all go to the party together. The venue, the CN Tower, was unbelievable. The Mirvishes had pulled out all the stops. It was lavish and no expense was spared. It was a night to celebrate everyone who together created our production. We were treated like royalty.
The next day I did a live interview at the CBC studios on John St. for the local broadcast of the show Compass in my home province of PEI. That too was very special for me.
To say this show was an epic experience in my life would be an understatement.
It is an experience that I truly cherish and will never forget.
For more information about Christine, check out her website: http://www.christinesahely.com/
THE LION KING PHOTO GALLERY
SLOGAN CAMPAIGN WINNERS ANNOUNCED!
Week of April 27, 2020
Our Ghost Light's on Till Covid's Gone by Kaitlyn Reid
Compassion is always in fashion. Kindness never goes out of style. by Susan J. Johnson
Kaitlyn and Susan have each won a $100 Mirvish Gift Card and their slogans and names will go up in lights on the marquees of our theatres.
This is the final week to submit your slogan! Contest ends on April 30 at 11:59 pm.
THE HISTORY OF THE SUPERFAN
Superfans for artistic works have always existed, probably from the beginning of civilization. But it’s only been in the last four decades that the term has come to be associated with musical theatre.
The term fan itself derives from fanatic, meaning "marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion,” and dates to at least the 14th century. It derives from the Latin fanaticus, meaning “insanely but divinely inspired.” This definition perhaps most accurately describes the state that a lover of a particular musical suffers from. How else to explain the lengths that some people go in expressing their total adoration for a show?
Nowadays, a superfan is someone who has seen a show dozens and dozens of time, and still can’t get enough. These people even have specific terms to describe them. For instance, an insanely but divinely inspired fan of The Phantom of the Opera is called a Phan. One who is crazy for Rent is called a Renthead. Hamilton — Hamilfan. Dear Evan Hansen — Fansen.
These types of repeat offenders can be the bread-and-butter of a musical because they not only purchase ticket after ticket to see the show but also devote a lot of energy and resources spreading the gospel of the show — they become its disciples, proselytes, zealots, groupies.
In fact, all Broadway musicals in the last three decades spend a good portion of their marketing budgets recruiting superfans. Rent was the first show to recognize how instrumental these people were to its success. The show gave them access to some of the best seats in the house for only $10 each. Since then, every Broadway musical has copied these tactics. Superfans are super important.
But who really are the superfans and what drives them.
Jennifer Chan was an energetic superfan of Les Misérables when it first opened in Toronto. Today she is a very successful real estate agent, but in the early 1990s she was a student who would see the show as often as she could, dressing up as Gavroche each time.
She explains: “My sister Marjorie and I used to attend Star Trek and sci-fi conventions and would see fans dress up like their favourite characters. This gave us the idea to express our passion for Les Mis by making our own costumes — repurposing items we found at used clothing stores and going into our tickle trunk — and attending the show as our favourite characters. I would dress as Gavroche and Marjorie as Éponine.
“For me the story of resilience of the human spirit, of love and loss, of crime and redemption, of community and brotherhood, of faith and disillusionment, resonates so strongly because it touches upon both the best and worst of humanity. The story takes me on an emotional roller-coaster, and moves me to tears and laughter each time, just as it did the first time I attended the show.
“I don’t have all the ticket stubs, but I have some of them. I saw it at least 70-something times. Mostly in Toronto, but we also took a road trip to Ottawa to see the French-language production.”
Jennifer’s enthusiasm and resourcefulness caught the attention of some Mirvish staff members. As work began on the opening of the Princess of Wales Theatre and Miss Saigon, help was needed at the office. As Jennifer and her sister Marjorie Chan were always around, it was only natural to ask if they would be interested in working at the administrative office.
Jennifer assisted in the auditions and then in the publicity department, eventually becoming a highly respected theatre publicist for the company before moving to Hong Kong and working for the Canadian Board of Trade. Marjorie assisted with the preparations for the Miss Saigon opening night, a herculean effort that took many months. Her interest in theatre led her to study at George Brown College, from which she graduated and almost immediately became a professional actor and then a playwright. Her work has received accolades and awards and been produced across the country and around the world. Today she is the artistic director of the formidable Theatre Passe Muraille, often called “Canada’s original alternative theatre." - (Photos from the personal archives of superfan, Jennifer Chan. Jennifer is always on the left and her sister Marjorie Chan is always on the right.)
A more recent superfan is Derek Kelly. He has seen Come From Away 68 times, and he says he isn’t finished yet. He plans to see the show many more times when it’s safe enough for theatres to reopen, after Covid-19 has been conquered.
Here’s his story:
"I've always loved attending theatre, and because I am from Stratford, ON, it has been very easy for me to see many shows. In the summer of 2016, I was watching a show at the Stratford Festival and was chosen by one of the actresses in it to join her on stage.
"The production was As You Like It set in Newfoundland in the 1980s. It featured many instances of audience participation. The actress who pulled me in on stage had me join her in a version of Running The Goat, a traditional Newfoundland dance.
"After the show I met her backstage. Her name was Petrina Bromley and she mentioned that she was leaving As You Like It soon because she was going to Toronto to do Come From Away, a musical I had never heard of.
"That fall I decided to study Theatre Arts Technical Production at Fanshawe College in London, ON. On one cold afternoon, on November 15, 2016 to be exact, I took the bus to Toronto to see Petrina in the very first performance of this new musical.
"That performance was mesmerizing. I went back the next night to see it again. I would return nine more times in that initial run of Come From Away in Toronto. When the show departed for New York, I followed it and saw it two more times.
"When it was announced the show would return to Toronto for a long run, I again purchased tickets for the very first performance. I was then living in Toronto, just a subway ride away from the Royal Alex.
"I have celebrated two birthdays onstage after performances of Come From Away. I’ve even organized bus tours for friends and neighbours in my hometown of Stratford so that they can easily see this great show, which I consider to be a flagship production of Canadian theatre."
Are you a superfan or do you know of one? Please share your stories with us. We’ll publish them in future issues of Meanwhile.
Thanks to everyone who continues to submit their theatre stories. Here's one we thought we'd highlight this week from Ruth Berger.
We had front row aisle seats to see Donald Sutherland in a show at the Royal Alex. My husband had had an exhausting day but didn’t want to miss it. He kept nodding off and I poked him several times during the play.
Afterwards we went to the Studio Cafe at the Four Seasons Hotel for a late dinner. Who should walk in, but Donald Sutherland.
My husband, not being particularly shy, went over to his table to commend him on his performance whereupon Mr. Sutherland said, “ First row on my left. Sleeping!"
Oh my... they had a laugh and chatted for at least ten minutes. Lovely man.
Lesson: strong coffee for my husband next time he had theatre tickets after a tiring day at work.
My mother had Mirvish season subscription for years. First row, first balcony -- amazing seats. I often attended with her and developed a passion for the theatre.
One evening my fiancé and I were to attend a play with her tickets and I was very excited. On the way, my mom had insisted I stop at a neighbour’s house to drop off something. I was not happy about this as I wanted to get going to the theatre. My fiancé and I even argued about who would go to the neighbour’s door. I lost the argument and had to go to the door.
Of course my neighbour insisted I come in for a moment. To my utter shock it was a surprise bridal shower!
All I remember is being so disappointed to not be going to the theatre.
- Debbie MacCallum
I had been a true L.M. Montgomery fan and we had been to PEI on a family holiday. So when the musical of Anne of Green Gables came to the Royal Alex my parents took my brother and me to see it. It was 1967 or 1968 and that was my first visit to the theatre.
I can remember watching the dancers and so enjoying the show. If my memory holds it was Dean Regan and Jamie Rae as Gilbert and Ann, and Barbara Hamilton as Marilla. It was a very memorable evening.
I have seen Anne of Green Gables many times since and always think of my first but not my last visit to the theatre.
My daughter and I now are subscribers and enjoy the beauty of the theatres as much as the shows on stage. Looking forward to next season.
- Lynn McFerran
(Editor: Thanks, Lynn, for the memories. In fact. Anne of Green Gables played the Royal Alex both in 1967 (September 25-30) and 1968 (October 7- November 9). And you’re correct about the actors you saw in these shows. Fun Fact — the Mirvish Show Archives are on mirvish.com and include every show that has played at all the Mirvish theatres. The Royal Alex archives go all the way back to 1907. You can search by show title, year, venue and keyword. You can spend many happy hours looking up the shows that have played and the stars that have been in them.)
When we were young, in the 1960s, we could only afford to sit in the balcony, what was known as "The Gods" in those days. In a few years we had worked our way down from the back to the first row of the balcony.
I was quite a knitter then and I had knit a Mary Maxim white angora-mix mid-length coat. I thought it was stunning, so I wore it to the next show on our subscription.
At intermission I stood up to stretch and as I turned around and looked up to the back of the balcony, there about six rows up was a woman wearing the exact same coat. I was horrified.
How many people would knit a coat and it be the same pattern I chose and both of us be at the same show in the same theatre on the same night? Go figure.
I have kept the coat, just to show that I did knit an entire coat -- because it certainly won't fit me almost 60 years later.
- Anne Tetley
(Editor: Your coat is indeed stunning. Vintage clothing fans will be salivating over it as they look at the photo.)
The Book of Mormon, April 2017. I had arrived downtown early. Walking towards the Princes of Wales Theatre, I decided to walk in the opposite direction. In my aimless wandering, I landed on the doorstep of Singer`s Edge, a music academy on Clarence Square, just east of Spadina, south of King. I went in and before I knew it, I had a brochure in my hands. Then off to the theatre because I didn't want to be late.
I love attending musicals because each performance inspires me to improve my own performance skills.
You see, I've always wanted to perform in musicals and I had been studying voice lessons for forever. But something always got in the way -- good teachers moved away, or some teachers just didn't work out for me. Auditions were also problematic -- either I just couldn't do a good vocal audition due to nerves or my dance skills were lacking.
After the show that day, some of the actors were selling merchandise for charity in the lobby. I decided to buy the show poster signed by everyone in the cast. As I was finishing my purchase, I looked up and saw some of the actors posing for photos with people who had also bought something. I asked if I could have a photograph with them and my newly bought poster. Graciously, the actors accepted.
While we were posing, one of the actors, sang a high note and I joined him. He looked surprised and said, "Oh, someone knows how to sing!"
My heart leapt for joy, and knowing that I had the brochure from the Singer's Edge school in my purse, I knew this was a sign that I should continue my studies. Fast forward to March 8, 2020. I had studied some more and I auditioned for the Etobicoke Musical Theatre Productions. And I got the part! Unfortunately, performances are postponed until next year because of the coronavirus. But, I have faith that I will be in the show in May 2021
While the world works to heal and to survive our current tragedy we cannot lose sight of the arts, music and how precious everyday moments can be for us. Like the time I went wandering and ended up at the doorstep of my future
- Theresa Hubbard
My husband and I have been Mirvish subscribers for many years. We have seats in the front orchestra.
In the fall of 2016 we went to one of the early performances of Come From Away. Before the show started we were engrossed in the program, reading about the original situation in Gander, and learning about the only female pilot who landed her 747 on the runway that day.
Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around. The striking blond woman who had tapped my should said, "You are reading about me! I'm Beverley Bass, the pilot."
She went on to say how much she loved the show, telling us she had been to all performances so far. She recounted wonderful stories about the days she and so many other grateful Americans spent in Gander. We were almost sorry when the show began.
It was a performance we will never forget.
- Sue Iaboni
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!
Stories from the stage and happenings from home
Next week we're introducing a brand new feature for Meanwhile called, "Check In From Away." This weekly online show will be hosted by Come From Away cast member, Steffi D, and stage manager, Lisa Humber. Each week they'll be speaking with different Toronto Theatre personalities to bring you both stories from the stage and happenings from home.
More details to come in next week's edition of Meanwhile!