LES MISERABLES, ONCE, ALADDIN & More Set for Mirvish's 50th Season
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by Kelly Cameron
This year marks a milestone occasion for Mirvish Productions and Toronto Theatre, as the organization celebrates fifty years of producing theatre in the city and brings back one of its most beloved shows as part of their largest and most diverse season to date. As was previously reported, the critically acclaimed 25th Anniversary Production of LES MISERABLES will return to Toronto as the first show of the 2013-2014 season.
'Hometown boy' Ramin Karimloo will helm the Toronto engagement of Les Miserables, marking his first ever appearance on a Canadian stage in a musical production after spending the last number of years on London's West End (where he played Valjean as well as the title character in The Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies). Joining him are Quebec native and current US tour member Genevieve Leclerc as Fantine, Canadian Idol alum and Stratford veteran Melissa O'Neil as Eponine, Winnipeg's Samantha Hill (currently playing Christine in Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera) as Cosette, The Wizard of Oz's Lisa Horner as Madame Thenardier, Cliff Saunders as Mr. Thenardier and Shaw Festival veteran Mark Uhre as Enjolras.
In addition to Les Miserables, Toronto will have the honour of being the site of the World Premiere of Disney's ALADDIN, which will feature the classic songs from the beloved film as well as new tunes from Alan Menken and Chad Beguelin. The production will land in Toronto in November of 2013 before attempting a magic carpet ride to the Great White Way.
The city gets a second World Premiere and a show that promises to be very different from traditional musical theatre as Toronto-based Sergio Trujillo brings his new show ARRABAL to the city. The show will be told entirely through dance and the music of Gustavo Santaolalla who is an Academy Award Winner for Brokeback Mountain and Babel. ARRABAL tells the story of a young girl who embarks on a journey into the underground world of Buenos Aires's tango clubs in an attempt to learn the truth about her father. It is a coming of age tale with a strong female lead, and will feature the original Argentinean cast.
Toronto audiences will also get a chance to witness musical theatre magic as the city presents the Tony Award Winning musical ONCE in the winter of 2013. The 'little show that could' has been a surprise smash hit on Broadway, taking home eight Tony Awards and delighting audiences. The simple, beautiful tale demonstrates the power of classic story-telling and the love that can come from music that reaches deep into your soul. Those who haven't had a chance to see the show in NYC will no doubt be thrilled to have the opportunity in Toronto, and many others will likely be eager to revisit the story with a new cast in the gorgeous Royal Alexandra Theatre.
Changing gears, we will see the acclaimed production of METAMORPHOSIS which has garnered high praise from critics around the world over the past year. Written by Frank Kafka with music by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, the show tells the story of the Samsa family, whose lives are turned upside down when their son Gregor is transformed into a giant insect. METAMORPHOSIS should excite audiences on many levels, interesting those people hungry for something new and different, as well as fans of Kafka's work. In addition, the inclusion of Australian singer/song-writer Nick Cave is particularly exciting as he's known for daring and original music loved the world over.
Dance lovers will be excited to see the return of the producing team behind Riverdance with the North American premiere of HEARTBEAT OF HOME. Director John McCogan promises a show that combines the spectacular Irish dancing of Riverdance with new Latin and Afro-Cuban inspired flare to create something never before seen on stage. Toronto audiences will be the first to experience the new sensation before it embarks on a North American tour.
Finally, this new season brings back the inclusion of straight plays with the North American premiere of playwright Roger Crane's THE LAST CONFESSION. Starring David Suchet, the show will examine the institution that is the Catholic Church, and will explore the mystery surrounding the death of Pope John Paul I in 1978.
There are also four exciting bonus shows which demonstrate increased programming diversity and have something for everyone. STOMP will return to Toronto in April of 2013, giving those who still haven't had a chance to see it the opportunity to experience a worldwide phenomenon. As was previously reported in The Star, The Panasonic Theatre will host everyone's favourite Jellicles when a brand new Canadian production of CATS opens in May 2013. I LOVE LUCY - LIVE ON STAGE will make its Canadian Premiere at The Royal Alexandra Theatre in October of 2013, and finally, Disney's smash-hit blockbuster THE LION KING returns to Toronto for a limited engagement from April 30th to June 15th, 2014.
With eleven shows already on the bill for 2013-2014, it's thrilling to see that Mirvish will also present a sophomore offering of their new Off-Mirvish Season, which features smaller productions of daring works that might not otherwise be included in their traditional season.
The Off-Mirivsh season will kick off with The Studio 180 Production of GOD OF CARNAGE, a show which The New York Times called 'A study in the tension between civilized surface and savage instinct.' Next will be a presentation of Canadian Rep Theatre's Production of George F. Walker's DEAD METAPHOR, a show about a man who returns home from the war in Afgahanistan and struggles with adjusting to life outside of the military. Finally, the Off-Mirvish season will bring Toronto an as-yet undetermined play from one of the world's great theatre festivals in June of 2014. Mirvish scouts will venture to Edinburgh, Dublin, Toronto, Edmonton, Spoleto, New York, Sydney and more to choose which show best fits Toronto audiences and showcase it in the city next summer.
All in all, the 2013-2014 Mirvish Season is both exciting and daring, featuring an eclectic mix of shows old and new, musicals and plays, beloved works and brand new adventures. With fourteen shows in total and one of their most varied offerings to date, it is a fantastic way to celebrate fifty years of theatre in Toronto.
Subscription packages for the 2013-2014 Season are available now at www.mirvish.com or by calling 416-593-4225.