Welcome to Meanwhile!
Over the past 56 years – since 1963 when Ed Mirvish bought, saved from demolition and restored the forgotten and neglected Royal Alexandra Theatre – Mirvish Productions has brought the city eclectic and distinguished plays from around the world. Now, Toronto ranks as a world capital of theatrical culture.
Meanwhile is our new online magazine about all things theatrical. Whether you are a season subscriber, a regular theatre-goer, or just a casual viewer this is where we will set the scene, share background information, explore themes, and fill you in about all that’s happening on the Mirvish stages.
The theatre has always been a place where people come together to experience a story, because above all it is communal experience – even though each of us experiences it in our own way.
My name is Erin and I fell in love with the theatre when I was nine. After school, my best friend and I would go home and sing the entire score of The Phantom of the Opera. Every day. I had the single disc Canadian cast recording, she had the double-disc British version. Shockingly, our siblings found reasons to be out of the house! If pressed I could probably still sing about 80% of it.
Over the years my repertoire has expanded, as has the canon of great musical theatre works. I can still be found singing along to the latest cast recording whenever I get the chance, much to the chagrin of my own nine-year-old daughter.
It's hard not to get swept up in works in the worlds of the theatre. Where chandeliers fall, families escape from Nazis, and a young lion has an existential crisis! Where tears, applause and breaking into song are commonplace. Where love, grief, courage, and everything noble or despicable about humanity is experienced from the comfort of a velvet seat.
Meanwhile, in the Mirvish theatres this fall…
… four plays tell four different stories that all share themes of overcoming isolation and forming communities and families.
Currently at the Elgin Theatre until December 1, Come From Away is an illustration of how the kindness of strangers can bloom into friendship and overcome fear. Come From Away returns home to the Royal Alexandra Theatre on December 13, 2019.
A block away, at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, that sentiment is echoed in The Band's Visit. When I first heard that the story revolves around an Egyptian Police band arriving in an off-the-beaten-path Israeli town my first thought was not "Joyous and offbeat". How wrong I was. The Band's Visit is a delight. Strangers come together over one night and realize that humanity is more important than politics, that there is more that ties us together than tears us apart.
Even a few more blocks north, at the CAA Theatre, Piaf/Dietrich tells the little-known true-life story of two showbiz legends who in their own way were foreigners, even outsiders, struggling to live an authentic life against a culture that was all about homogeneity.
A few blocks west, at the Royal Alexandra, Girl From The North Country is about the residents of a boarding house in Duluth, Minnesota, in the depths of the Depression. A family takes in strangers and together they form a new community to fight against the unpredictability of a society torn apart by lack of work and purpose – all illuminated in the timeless songs of Bob Dylan.
I’m so grateful to be part of the vibrant theatre community we have in Toronto and I can’t wait to see you and hear from you. Welcome to Meanwhile!