Meanwhile...Our Online Magazine

  June 9, 2020  

MEANWHILE ISSUE #9

We welcome you to Meanwhile #9 with a heavy heart.  

Although we had an issue ready to go out last Tuesday, we decided not to publish. We felt it was inappropriate to do so. It was too soon after, as Royson James described it in the Toronto Star, “the daylight Main Street modern lynching of George Floyd, a cop kneeling on the man’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, even as citizens voice their horror and three other cops watch the murder, unmoved.” 

This harrowing event has galvanized people around the world, with millions taking to the streets to protest and millions and millions more looking inwards to examine their own internal racism and discrimination. As Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in times of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”  

While we may not be citizens of the country where this gut-wrenching crime took place, Canada is not immune to racism, intolerance, discrimination, inequality, hatred and violence. Anti-black racism is also raging here, and our reprehensible treatment of our indigenous communities is centuries old and shameful. These are only two examples of the discrimination that is also waged on many other communities. 

Theatre has always held up a mirror to the world, often exploring issues of the here and now. We didn’t plan it this way, but the Meanwhile issue we had ready to publish last week, and which we bring you today, just happens to be about Hamilton — which in its own brilliant way examines the themes that are once again at the forefront at this troubling time. 

Inarguably the greatest musical of this century, Hamilton never mentions the words racism or inequality, even though they are absolutely among the themes it examines. By casting Black, Hispanic and Asian actors to play the historical roles of the founding fathers of the United States, and by using the style of music that these communities have created, the show says so much. 

Works such as Hamilton help us to examine our own prejudices and to look at history through new prisms of understanding. 

Many of us are searching our own hearts and examining our own privileges and misconceptions about injustice and racism. We are also having conversations with family, friends, work colleagues and neighbours. It’s not easy, but it must be done. 

Finally, here is a clip we found online of Muhammad Ali being interviewed on British TV in the 1970s. He reminisces about his childhood in Kentucky in the 1940s. He remembers asking his mother a series of questions about the world he saw around him. These questions demonstrate how racism is so entrenched in our culture and language that we may not even realize it. The clip is very short and worth watching. Here it is.


CHECK IN FROM AWAY - EPISODE #5

When SnL checked in with the incredibly talented Warren Egypt Franklin, who plays Lafayette in the Philip touring company of Hamilton, the world was only dealing with the pandemic that cut the show’s run in Toronto short. SnL engaged with Warren on all manner of Hamilton topics, including trivia about the show’s creation and its songs. They even coaxed him into teaching them some of the show’s choreography. (You can probably follow along and learn the choreography yourself at home.) 

Check In From Away Episode 4


Name That Show Tune Winners!

NAME THAT (SHOW) TUNE WINNERS

We’ve got a reason to sing today for 5 lucky participants of our Name That (Show) Tune trivia contest. Congratulations to Eileen M., Sherene D., Gloria Jean B., Becca A., and Elaine B.

Did you miss the opportunity to play? Take the challenge and play for fun!


Emoji Challenge

Over 2000 of you put your theatre skills to the test last week with our Emoji Challenge. We’re excited to announce the winners: Hannah Cruddas and Tracy Ip! They have each received a $100 Mirvish Gift Card. Thank you to all those who participated in this fun little contest. As a treat, we thought we would share some of the funniest entries with you.

1) Guys and Dolls Guys & Dolls EmojisHavanna Music Hall
Rolling the Dice on a Cuban Wedding
Cuba something!!!
Flying Money Die Texas Bride
My ex GF when we went to Cuba?
2) Dear Evan Hansen Dear Evan Hansen EmojiTake me out to the ball game
I wish the Blue Jays would win again
There's no Crying in Baseball
Chicago
Taking Note: You'll Get Ice Cream on Your T-Shirt if You get hit by a baseball?
3) Anastasia
Anastasia Emoji
King of France travels to the Netherlands?
The Train King
Queen on the run
The Railway Children
French Cancan
4) Jesus Christ Superstar
JCS Emoji
Gospel Truth
God show
Nunsense
Praying to Speak as a Star in Church
Finding god on Broadway
5) Heathers
Heathers
Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cricket"
Don't Play Cricket After Soda
Scary paddle
The call of the cricket
I am stumped
6) Kinky Boots
Kinky Boots
Forever Tango
Devil Wears Prada
More high heels please
Fighting to dance in heaven
Omg this is tricky!
7) Into the Woods
Into The Woods
Glinda the Green Witch
The Witch in the Forest
Tree Witch
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Rags to Riches
8) Oklahoma!OklahomaGirl of the Golden West
Little Mermaid
Moses (The Musical)
Waiting to love at sunrise
Laundromat Love in a Wheat Field
9) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Harry Potter
The Great Train Robbery
Wild thing
The three wise men
The Owl and the Pussycat
The one about Harry Potter
10) Sweeney Todd
Sweeney Todd
American Pie
Life of Pi
Who baked the pie
Hungry
Baker's Blood
11) Mean GirlsMean GirlsDixe Swim Club
Lips Together, Teeth Apart
Blonde Ambition
Love, Loss and What I Wore
Notebook Lady
12) 9 to 5
9 to 5
Rat Lipstick Bag - The Musical
Lulu the broadway mouses
These are tough: The Musical
How to Get Ahead in Advertising
Oh god am I a fake theatre fan
13) Come From Away
Come From Away
Cats
Panam
A Pioneering Pilot
Oh Calcutta
Who moved the cheese?
14) Pressure
Pressure
Global warming
Brexit through the gift shop
110 in the Shade (the European Tour? That ended badly?)
No Sex Please, We're British
It's Dang hot in England!

Now it's your time to play
Can you describe a show in 4 emojis? Email us at emoji@mirvish.com or text us at 416-872-1212 with your ideas for a chance to be included in the next Emoji Challenge. Be sure to include your emojis, answer, name and email address.

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Did You Know?

By Antonio Tan

For this edition of Did You Know?, we’ll continue our focus on Hamilton. Our correspondent shares tidbits of information about the musical, its creators and the cast members of the Philip company that played in Toronto.

Hamilton Cast PhotoThe Company – HAMILTON National Tour (c) Joan Marcus 2018

First of all, you’re probably wondering: “What is the Philip Company?” When a show as popular as Hamilton decides to launch a tour the demand from the public may be so great that the producers are forced to mount many different companies. It’s customary for each of these companies to be given a nickname associated with the show. For instance, Wicked had two tours – Emerald City (the first national tour which began in Toronto at the Ed Mirvish Theatre) and Munchkinland (which is the current production on the road). With The Lion King, Disney named the current road production the Rafiki tour. With Hamilton, there are no less than four – that’s right, FOUR – North American companies of the show outside of New York right now. The Eliza company is the one that played at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. Named after Hamilton’s wife, it was actually the long-running Chicago production that recently ended a three-year engagement in the Windy City. The Angelica tour, named after Eliza’s older sister, is the second company after Chicago and was actually the first touring company to criss-cross the United States. The Philip company – named after Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler’s son – is the second production that tours the country, and is the one that came to us in Toronto. And last – but not least – is the And Peggy company, named after Eliza and Angelica’s youngest sister and makes reference to the song “The Schuyler Sisters.” This production opened in Puerto Rico then immediately transferred to play a year-plus run in San Francisco (where it was playing before the crisis struck).

The show’s author and original star Lin-Manuel Miranda has never performed in a show here in Toronto (although both of his previous two shows, In The Heights and Bring It On, have played here). However, Andy BlankenbuehlerHamilton’s three-time Tony Award-winning choreographer – has. Long before becoming a choreographer, he was a performer in Broadway shows and in national tours. One of his earliest credits was the touring production of Jerry Zaks’ revival of Guys and Dolls, which came to the Royal Alexandra Theatre in June 1993, where he appeared in the ensemble. Lorna Luft played Miss Adelaide. Then Toronto audiences saw him again in July 1995 in a concert tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music called The Music of the Night which played at Roy Thomson Hall. However, it was the world premiere pre-Broadway run of Fosse – the Tony-winning Best Musical celebrating the work of Bob Fosse – in July 1998 at the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts (now called the Meridian Arts Centre) in North York where he was one of the standouts in the show. Not only did he dance in the show, but he also sang – he was the “Mr. Bojangles” vocalist who accompanied future Tony Award-winning choreographer Sergio Trujillo’s dance solo. Blankenbuehler would later put his Fosse expertise to use when he recreated some of the choreographer’s most iconic dance numbers in the first three episodes of the FX series Fosse/Verdon, on which he was also a co-producer with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hamilton’s director Thomas Kail.

Joseph Morales (who played Alexander Hamilton in the Mirvish run) appeared on the Princess of Wales Theatre stage in April 2016 as a Swing in the national tour of If/Then. Later on he would play Alexander Hamilton as the Alternate A.Ham in the original Chicago production before opening the Philip tour in 2018.

You also may have recognized Jared Dixon, who played Aaron Burr. Last summer he starred as Simba in the sold-out return engagement of Disney’s The Lion King that played the Princess of Wales Theatre for two months. 

Marcus Choi (George Washington) was born in Toronto, however he grew up in California, and was making his home town debut with Hamilton. 

Ta'rea Campbell (Angelica Schuyler) had previously appeared on the Ed Mirvish Theatre stage in March 2003 in Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, where she was in the ensemble and also understudied the title role. After that, she would return to the Ed Mirvish Theatre playing the lead Deloris Van Cartier in the national tour of Sister Act The Musical when it launched in our fair city in October 2012.

Buffalo native Neil Haskell (who played King George III) had also appeared on the Ed Mirvish Theatre stage before when the pre-Broadway tour of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Bring It On: The Musical came here in May 2012. He was also in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton and, more famously, was a top three finalist in season three of the hugely popular TV competition So You Think You Can Dance?

Did you miss Hamilton in Toronto because of the pandemic? Don’t worry – the show’s producers intend to bring it back to us at their earliest opportunity once it is safe enough for theatres to reopen.

Check future Meanwhile issues for more theatre and showbiz DID YOU KNOW? trivia by Antonio Tan.


The Archives Logo

The Royal Alexandra Theatre has had a who’s who of theatre stars from the 20th and 21st century perform on its stage.

In its early years, the Royal Alex was strictly a “road house” for legitimate theatre – meaning, it presented touring productions. Sometimes, these shows were brand new and played Toronto to “tryout” before they went to Broadway. Most often, though, they were replica tours of shows that had already proven themselves in London, New York, European capitals and in other cities across Canada. 

Recently we’ve unboxed thousands of show programmes. More than any other items, these programmes are a testament to the thousands of shows that have played here and the tens of thousands of performers who played in them. 

We’ve assembled a broad range of programmes – more than a hundred,  beginning in 1907 and ending in 1988. You can view all of them as a slideshow.  There are captions with background info for each programme.

Of special interest may be the programme for A Raisin In The Sun. This landmark play by Lorraine Hansberry debuted on Broadway in 1959. The title comes from the poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes (see below for another poem by this insightful and powerful poet). 

The story tells of a black family's experiences in south Chicago, as they attempt to improve their financial circumstances with an insurance payout following the death of the father. Among the investments they want to make is the purchase a house. The property they choose is located in a white neighbourhood and the neighbours are fearful that the property values of the area will drop if black families move in. That’s just one of the plot points of this brilliant play that examines the lives of ordinary black citizens in ways that had not been seen on Broadway or in mainstream theatre before.

The show was a resounding success and a tour was launched that played the Royal Alex in November and December 1960.

More than 50 years later, Bruce Norris took elements of the play’s plot and wrote a new play that examined similar themes. That play is Clybourne Park and it played in Toronto as part of the first Off-Mirvish season in a local production by Studio 180 Theatre.

Clybourne Park clearly showed that while many elements of society have changed, racism, discrimination and injustice are still with us.

If you have any old programmes from years gone by and you no longer want to keep them, we’d love to add them to the archives. Please mail them to us at: Programme Archives, Mirvish Productions, 322 King St West, 4th floor, Toronto, ON, M5V 1J2


LANGSTON HUGHES' 1935 POEM FOR TODAY

In 1935, in the midst of the Depression, Langston Hughes, an African-American poet, social activist, novelist and playwright, wrote a powerful poem that he titled Let America Be America Again. The title is misleading, especially as it may be interpreted in today’s divisive world in which “America” can mean many different things to different people. But Hughes used “America" to mean the land of equal opportunity. Of course it never really was that, as he points out in his courageous and hopeful poem. Hughes emotes over how his country has never been the nation it promises to be.

Today, in the midst of the injustice, pain and turmoil of the present circumstances, his brilliant poem demands to be read again.

Despite the fact that this poem is about “America,” the themes it raises are also relevant to us in Canada. We, too, struggle with racism and intolerance. And we, too, have yet to resolve these issues.

Here is the entire poem. Or, click here to hear it read by Danez Smith, a poet and performer from St. Paul, MN. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6Im4b3kdfc

Let America Be America Again.

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!


TriviaSo, you've been participating in all our trivia challenges and you've been doing pretty well. Perhaps today is the day where you'll meet your match. Check out the images of actors in costume and match them with the role and show and be entered to win a $100 Mirvish Gift Card.

Play Match Game!


Awards Season

This is the time of year when we would be celebrating the end of the 2019-20 season. One ritual of these celebrations is the handing out of awards.

This year, due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, these awards are being handled differently.

First out of the gate are the TTC Awards. No, these are not about the Toronto Transit Commission. The acronym stands for the Toronto Theatre Critics. This is their 10th year. They announced their choices for the best of the season last week. 

Mirvish Productions was honoured with Outstanding Musical Production  The Band’s Visit, Outstanding Performance in a Leading Role — Chilina Kennedy, The Band’s Visit (tied with Jully Black in Caroline, or Change from the Musical Stage Company and ObsIdian Theatre) and Outstanding Director for a Musical for Conor McPherson, Girl From The North Country (shared with Marie Farsi for Crow’s Theatre and Eclipse Theatre Company’s co-production of Ghost Quartet).

Next up are the Dora Awards, which have just announced their nominations. Mirvish received 10 nominations:

Piaf/Dietrich
Outstanding Production
Outstanding New Musical — Erin Shields
Outstanding Direction — Gordon Greenberg
Outstanding Musical Direction — Jonathan Monro
Outstanding Achievement in Design — Michael Gianfrancesco
Outstanding Performances in a Leading Role — Jayne Lewis
Outstanding Performances in a Leading Role — Louise Pitre

Girl From The North Country
Outstanding Performance in a Featured Role — Gloria Obianyo
Outstanding Musical Direction — Ian Ross
Us/Them
Outstanding Touring Production
The Doras will be handed out virtually this year on Monday, June 29 at 7:30 PM on the Dora Awards YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/DoraAwards  

The Tony Awards in New York were to be held at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday, June 7. But because many of the shows that would have been eligible did not have a chance to open before Covid-19 shut down the theatres, the Tony committee is postponing the 2019-20 awards until sometime in the future. Here is the website for more info: https://www.tonyawards.com/

The Olivier Awards in London actually announced their nominees on March 3 and had planned to announce the winners at Royal Albert Hall on April 5. That event has been postponed until it is safe for people to gather again in a theatre, or it may become a virtual event, like the Doras. Here’s the website to check for more info: https://officiallondontheatre.com/olivier-awards/year/olivier-awards-2020/