Meanwhile...Our Online Magazine

  May 5, 2020  

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Issue #5

This week we're thrilled to introduce an exciting new feature brought to you by two members of the company of Come From Away — actor Steffi DiDomenicantonio (known to friends as Steffi D; she plays Janice, the young Rogers TV reporter, and other roles) and stage manager Lisa Humber.  Steffi and Lisa are your affable hosts for Check In From Away, a video chat show that checks in with theatre professionals — actors, writers, directors, musicians and perhaps even “professional” audience members — about what they are doing in these unprecedented and interesting times. The first Check In From Away episode features interviews with - you guessed it - the cast of Come From Away.

Did someone say "contests?" We've got more contests and Mirvish Gift Cards to give away! The winners of the final week of our slogan campaign are announced along with the trivia winner from our second issue. Plus, a brand new song from General Manager, Ron Jacobson, and for the kids, theatre study guides to help take their experience to the next level!


Enjoy the first episode of Check In From Away, hosted by Steffi D and Lisa Humber. In this edition, they check in with other members of the company of Come From Away, including authors and composers Irene Sankoff and David Hein. Don’t forget to tune in next week for a new episode with new guests.

Check In From Away Episode 1

Want to know more about the various projects discussed?

Gander SPCA

Big Girl + Friends

Timeless to Me with Chris Tsujiuchi

Soft Revolution


Did you know that many of the shows we present have material created just for students? We'd like to share these incredible guides to help provide a different kind of education to budding thespians and theatre folks alike!

Download The Lion King guide
Download the Come From Away guide
Download the Hamilton guide


This week we put forth a new challenge to you! Rummage through your closets and basements to put together an ensemble that resembles one of your favourite characters from a show. Snap a photo and share it with us using the form below. Five (5) participants will be randomly selected to each receive a $100 Mirvish Gift Card.

Humans are resourceful, creative and adaptable. That’s what has become abundantly apparent in this “pause” to our regular lives. And that’s why we believe wholeheartedly that we will come out the other side of this crisis stronger and more resilient. It will take more than Covid-19 to stop humanity.

Do you want proof of this creativity? Just look at the wonderful and inspiring slogans our readers submitted in April. Just look at the witty stories that have come to our Patron’s Corner.

Now, we have another opportunity for your creativity to bloom. This time we take our lead from two leading art museums — the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Getty in Los Angeles. To engage with their patrons isolating at home, they asked them to recreate some of their favourite artworks using whatever items they had available to them in their homes.

The results are staggeringly beautiful and awe-inspiring. Here are just a few of the submissions.

Dress Up 1

Laughing Fool, ca. 1500, attributed to Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen. Recreation by Tiffanie Pierini Ho with giraffe onesie, Christmas sweater, and post-it.

Dress Up 2

The Astronomer, 1668, Johannes Vermeer. Recreation by Ann Zumhagen-Krause and her husband with tray table, blanket, and globe.

Dress Up 3

Sir Francis Buller, 1823, by Francesco Bartolozzi, after Mather Brown Recreation by Ada Crow with toilet paper and rolls.

We think it would be fun for you to recreate some of your favourite characters and/or scenes from plays and musicals.

Some suggestions:

• Maria singing the title song from the opening scene in The Sound of Music.
• The Phantom and Christine when they are in the gondola from The Phantom of the Opera.
• Tracy from Hairspray as she sings “Good Morning, Baltimore”.
• Characters and/or scenes from The Producers, Tommy, Beautiful, Buddy, Les Misérables, Hamilton, Come From Away, The Book of Mormon, Motown, Rent, Cabaret … the list is almost endless.

If you need a refresher on the look and costumes of shows, just search your favourite characters and plays online. You’ll get thousands of images to work with. Then just look around your home and in your closets for clothes and props.

We will publish the best submissions, with each of the chosen images winning their creator a $100 Mirvish gift card. The deadline is May 15.

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please enter your email address
Please confirm email address
Please share your story
Please upload your photo


Keep Calm Marquee Winners

This week brings the slogan campaign to a close! Thank you to everyone who entered.

Congratulations to:
We Will Soon Rise For Theatre's Reprise - Emily Uy
I Want To Be In The Room When It Reopens - Maria Negri

Emily and Maria have each won a $100 Mirvish Gift Card and their slogans and names will go up in lights on the marquees of our theatres.


Congratulations to Christina C. -  winner of the Theatre Trivia Contest and a $100 Mirvish Gift Card!

Q: What year did The Phantom of the Opera begin its first run in Toronto?
A: 1989

Q: What is the name of the first musical Max Bialystock opens in The Producers?
A: Funny Boy

Q: In Twelve Angry Men, which juror is the first to vote “Not Guilty?”
A: Juror #8

Q: Miss Saigon opened this Mirvish Theatre in 1993?
A: The Princess of Wales Theatre

Q: The song Seasons of Love is from this Award-Winning Musical?


Happy 17th Anniversary "It's Time For A Little T.O."

Let’s go back to early spring 2003. A strange and frightening coronavirus had made itself known. It was soon named SARS, for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. In North America, Toronto was its epicentre. Almost overnight, the city became the pariah of the world. 

Yet, SARS wasn’t an aggressive virus. It did not have community spread. The virus was mostly contained in a few hospitals. Public health officials reassured everyone that the city was safe. 

It's Time For A Little T.O.

But fear took over. Conventions that were booked across the city were cancelled. Tourists, who were booked for the spring and summer, cancelled. Hotels were forced to mothball entire floors. Restaurants were empty. The downtown core, usually bustling with people and activity, was quiet. 

The Lion King at the Princess of Wales Theatre and Mamma Mia! at the Royal Alexandra Theatre were both beginning their fourth year of sold-out runs in Toronto. For the first time since they began, both of these immensely popular shows — that between them attracted more than a million visitors annually — had seats available because of the massive cancellations due to SARS. 

Something had to be done to make Toronto vibrant again, especially as the city was safe for everyone.

Monday, April 29, 2003. Mid-morning at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The place was packed. Civic leaders, managers of businesses both small and large, cultural workers, hospitality workers — everyone was there. The house lights went down and then you heard the unforgettable sound of Rifiki calling the animals together for the sunrise ceremony in The Lion King. Chills went up people’s spines and they erupted in applause as the cast of The Lion King made their way through the auditorium and onto the stage.

After this moving beginning, David Mirvish appeared onstage and announced a brand new package to attract visitors back to Toronto and even encourage Torontonians themselves to get out of the house and enjoy the best the city had to offer. Mayor Mel Lastman; the city's chief medical officer, Dr. Sheela Basrur; ministers from both the Ontario and federal governments and tourism leaders joined David onstage. 

Called “It’s Time For A Little T.O.” it was an all-inclusive package that included a theatre ticket to either The Lion King or Mamma Mia!, a three-course meal at one of two dozen restaurants, a one-night stay at one of a dozen hotels, and a ticket to a Blue Jays game.The initial offering was $125 per person, double-occupancy. The package was also available without the hotel stay for $85. 

The idea was, make the public an offer they couldn’t refuse. The value was indeed outstanding — a theatre ticket alone was $110 back then.  

The event that morning ended with another rousing performance — the entire cast of Mamma Mia! performed “Dancing Queen”. 

Immediately the box offices were inundated with customers. Within a few weeks, 111,888 packages for a total of $10,789,360 were sold, filling every theatre seat for two months, packing downtown hotels and restaurants, and filling the SkyDome for every Blue Jays game. 

Eventually, there were seven different campaigns of “It’s Time For A Little T.O.”, all the way to the end of 2004. To fulfill demand, more hotels, restaurants and theatre shows were added to the package. Besides the Blue Jays, in time the packages also included the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Ontario Science Centre and the CN Tower. In total, just over one millions packages were sold, adding more than $150 million to the city’s economy. (Over the 20 months of the campaign, the price of the package would increase, closing out at $199 per person — still a great value.) 

“It’s Time For A Little T.O.” demonstrated that Toronto knew how to promote, animate and enliven its cultural attractions and hospitality services, as long as the city was safe for both citizens and visitors. 

No doubt the same will happen after Covid. It will just take a little more time.


A few weeks back we introduced you to Ron Jacobsonthe general manager of all four Mirvish Theatres, when we shared his song The Covid-19 Blues. Well, let's just say Ron has some more time on his hands these days, and his talent refuses to take a break. He's written another great tune for you called, Covid Dating.

Have a look and a listen.

Covid Dating


Le Miz posterSUPERFAN - Although now age 82, and out of the loop somewhat, I think I qualify as a Les Misérables superfan.

We were regular subscribers when Les Miz first came to Toronto in 1989, and I was hooked after I first saw it at the Royal Alexandra Theatre with my daughter on April 10, 1989. I saw it another thirty-plus times at multiple locations between 1989 and 2014, mostly in Toronto but also in London, England.  

One of my prized possessions is a poster signed by entire Toronto cast. The poster is of the iconic Les Miz image (a drawing of Cossette) with a ball cap on and bat in hand, titled “An All-Star Event”. It was in honour of the 1991 All-Star Baseball game that was held at the Skydome in 1991, Les Miz was still playing in Toronto at that time. My then son-in-law was in the hospitality business and had a friend who worked at the Holiday Inn, where the poster was displayed. Somehow he acquired it. You can imagine my surprise and delight when it was presented to me as a birthday gift. (By then everyone knew I was a Les Miz superfan.) My wife subsequently had it framed, and It now hangs prominently in my den.  

I was eagerly awaiting this year’s planned Les Miz return to Toronto, now postponed. Fingers crossed, it won’t be too long!

Kathy M bites into a gingerbread cookie at the Royal Alexandra Theatre 1963

PATRON'S STORY - I’d like to share the attached newspaper clipping to add to your theatre archives.

That’s me back in 1963, modelling in the lobby of the newly purchased and renovated Royal Alexandra Theatre.

The photograph accredited to Ray McFadden of the Toronto Telegram was dated December 17th. It announced the opening night performance of the visiting Obratsov Russian Puppet Theatre Company.

To clarify after all this time, my last name is spelled Harasymchuk, I’m of Ukrainian descent, and was under strict instruction to not bite down on that gingerbread (until after the shot).

Even though the evening may have marked a short-lived modelling career, the excitement of being at the Royal Alex as a child launched me into a life-long fondness for live theatre.

We have Ed Mirvish and family to thank for that!

Regards, Kathy

At Cats last December, I had an aisle seat. When the cats came through the audience, Rum Tum Tugger swept me off and we danced up and down the aisle. Everyone thought I was a plant from the show, but in fact the actor playing Rum Tum Tugger is an old friend and when he recognized me he whispered in my ear to follow his instructions. I was quite the subject for chatter at intermission. I have to say it was so much fun.

- Vanessa Harwood, former principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada

My husband and I have been longtime subscribers. One story which stands out the most for me is when we went to see The Pirates of Penzance. I had been so looking forward to it, but the day of the performance I had to go to the bank to collect the cash for the payroll of our small company. Coming out of the bank I was robbed. Needless to say, I was a little shaken, but my husband thought it would be a good distraction if we still went to see the show. Well, that was the best decision ever made. The show was just what I needed. It totally took my mind off the day’s events and transported me to a happy place. The production was excellent. It was in 1982 and starred Barry Bostwick and Andy Gibb. We’ve seen so many great shows since. Now we are looking forward to the future when productions will start up again!

By the way, after that we changed from paying employees in cash to cheque. Lesson learned.🙂

- Valerie Macklin

For our 50th birthday gift, my twin sister and I bought tickets to see Elton John and Billy Joel in concert. Unfortunately that was 2003, the year of SARS. The concert was cancelled. We decided that we did not want to use the money for something frivolous that would be soon forgotten. So we bought a Mirvish subscription instead. We've never looked back. We have been patrons ever since and have convinced other friends to join us. They too have been with us for many years. Thanks for all the memories. Hoping soon to continue with a new season when this nightmare we now live in is over.

- Judi Fenyes


My 12-year-old daughter, Anna, has been a true “Phan" for over two years now. From her decked-out bedroom, to the cast recording constantly playing, to her multiple The Phantom of the Opera t-shirts, not a day goes by without the show somehow being included in our lives.

We were extremely fortunate to see The Phantom of the Opera in late January, before all the theatres were shut down. (Derrick Davis was a superb Phantom!)

The festivities continued with a Phantom-themed birthday extravaganza in February, because Anna is determined to make Phans out of all her middle-school friends.

Now that we are social distancing and can no longer attend live theatre, we were thrilled to be able to watch filmed performances of both The Phantom of the Opera and its sequel, Love Never Dies, on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s YouTube channel, “The Shows Must Go On”. (Thanks for letting us know about it in Meanwhile.)

In honour of these two shows, Anna has written and recorded a Covid-themed parody of the song “All I Ask Of You” from The Phantom of the Opera. She wants to share it as a bit of fun during these times and to thank Lloyd Webber and all the other great theatre creators for their inspiration and for the joy they bring to all of us. Here’s the link:

- Tracy Gerardi

I've loved the film of The Wizard of Oz my entire life.

When I was a child, I’d have to wait for the film to be broadcast on TV, usually at Christmas and Easter. I never missed a single broadcast — I still don’t. When videos were introduced and then other forms of film recordings, I could watch it even more often.

Years later I discovered the book Wicked. I related to it immediately. When it was adapted into a Broadway musical, my husband and I went to New York to see it — but not before I had purchased the original cast recording and learned the lyrics to every song.

Then when I heard the touring production of Wicked would be launched in Toronto, I bought seats for every week it played. My daughter even threw me a surprise birthday party and bought a block of seats for me and 28 of my friends.

Needless to say I’ve seen Wicked hundreds of times. I drive a green VW beetle, licence plate ELPHABA. My nickname is Elphie. When I became a grandmother, I took my grandkids to see it many times in Toronto, and also in Los Angeles and Hawaii. Anywhere I travelled, I check to see if Wicked is playing. If it is, I go. (My grandkids don’t call me nanny or grandma. They too call me Elphie.)

Wicked isn’t the first musical I’ve been crazy about. As a teenager I did a shorter stint with Hair in the late 1960s and 1970s. I saw the original production in New York, and when the Toronto production opened at the Royal Alex I saw it many times. When it was revived in New York a few years back, I went to see it again; and when the touring revival came to Toronto I saw it too. I even flew to Paris, France, to see and it in French the summer of 1969. I went two nights in a row.

And when Hamilton returns to Toronto I’ll be going as many times as I’m able to.

I’ve been a subscriber for decades. I’ve even made fans of Broadway musicals over the years of the many guests I’ve invited on my subscription tickets. Nowadays, I always take my grandkids and they love it as much as I do.

So that’s my superfan story.

- Andrea Marcus

I have always loved listening to musical theatre. I used to participate in plays at my synagogue when I was a little girl. My favourite was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In fact, my grade 3 Hebrew teacher allowed me to perform songs from the musical as we learned that section of the Bible in school.

When the show played Toronto years later, with Donny Osmond, I was among the first to get a ticket. I loved it so much my parents kept buying me tickets to go with different sets of family and friends. I had seen it six times in Toronto when my parents surprised me with tickets to see it Chicago in 1994. It was a high school graduation gift. It was also the time I got to go up on stage.

When the show played in Toronto, I got to know the stage door all too well. I met Donny Osmond several times.

That was the beginning, and I have been a superfan ever since.

My parents always had a Mirvish subscription. As an adult I have one too.

When Rent played I was a Renthead (and I still am). Les Miserables is one of my all time favourites; I could watch it over and over again.

Truly, I was born a superfan. I love live musical performances and I feel so fortunate to have had so many opportunities to enjoy them through the years.

I love the music of Hamilton and could not wait to see it, so I went to Chicago to see it in the summer of 2017. I was really looking forward to seeing the show in Toronto, but unfortunately our subscription tickets were for March 22. (Due to Covid, the show had its final performance here on March 13.) But I will wait for It to return and will happily watch it when it is safe to go back to the theatre.

I look forward to 2021 when we can all be together again to enjoy a night out at a Mirvish production.

- Laya Weissberger

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!