An electrifying season: Mirvish 2010/2011

By Leanne Milech

I attended the Mirvish Theatres Subscription Season of 2010/2011 press release at the Royal Alexandra Theatre yesterday, and I am only slightly embarrassed to say that I wept from my seat. Not because the season sounds awful, but because it proves to be both electrifying AND heartbreaking.

The six shows included in the subscription package are Billy Elliot The MusicalPriscilla Queen of the Desert The MusicalA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumThe Secret GardenSweet Charity and Calendar Girls.

When I watched Billy Elliot, the movie, I pretty much bawled the entire time, so it’s safe to say the same will happen in the theatre while watching gut-wrenching live performances.

And I already lost it in The Secret Garden. We were lucky enough to have both Marsha Norman, who wrote the book and lyrics for the show, and Lucy Simon, who composed the music, introduce the show and discuss their creative process. During their discussion, Lucy broke out into a few lines of one of the songs she composed. I cried. A lot. Pretty beautiful.

My heart also broke into little pieces when two of the original Calendar Girls themselves arrived on stage to talk about the inspiration behind their famed calendar: Calendar Girl Angela Baker’s husband’s battle with leukaemia, which eventually took his life. In response, the Calendar Girls have managed to raise more than 1.5 million pounds for cancer research. Talk about inspiring.

I’m sure I’ll manage to hold back the tears in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and I’m willing to bet that Sean Cullen and Bruce Dow (the two Canadian stage icons sharing the lead role) will make me bust a gut in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. (They were both pretty hilarious during the press release, performing for the crowd via video and as master of ceremonies, respectively). And there’s nothing like watching a Neil Simon comedy like Sweet Charity, straight from one of London’s hottest theatres, the Menier Chocolate Factory, to keep yourself entertained and uplifted.

So, yes, an electrifying season. Uplifting, sad, hopeful and, above all, electrifying.

See below for the official Mirvish press release:

AN ELECTRIFYING THEATRE SEASON FOR 2010/2011!

BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL
PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT THE MUSICAL
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM
THE SECRET GARDEN
SWEET CHARITY
CALENDAR GIRLS


Plus Six Bonus Shows:
MY MOTHER’S LESBIAN JEWISH WICCAN WEDDING
ROCK OF AGES • MAMMA MIA! • A JEW GROWS IN BROOKLYN
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF • WINGFIELD – LOST AND FOUND


Official Season Sponsor: Air Canada

David Mirvish will present six productions in the 2010 – 2011 Mirvish Subscription Season, and six additional shows will be offered as bonus shows to subscribers.

“As in every year,” David explains, “we look to bring the best shows from London, New York and elsewhere to Toronto.

“This year we are privileged to have six shows on our subscription, anchored by the phenomenal new musical blockbuster — a 10-time Tony® Award-winner — BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL. The toast of London and Broadway will soon be the toast of Toronto, and we couldn’t be happier that our subscribers will see it first, in the first choice of seats for the best price.

“There are four more musicals and one very special comedy on the season. From Australia via London, from our very own Stratford Shakespeare Festival, from the cutting-edge hit-making Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre on London’s Southbank, this is a season that offers stories of hope against great odds, a season that celebrates the defiant human spirit.

“Outside the subscription season, we have more shows to offer Toronto theatregoers. With four theatres in downtown Toronto – the Royal Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, the Canon and the Panasonic, we have great opportunities to offer a wide variety of other shows off-subscription. In 2010-11, we already have six added shows, and the list is soon to grow. But our subscribers will have first opportunity to purchase tickets at great prices – one of the many privileges of subscribing.

“We are also very happy to have Air Canada back as the Season Sponsor. They have been a great partner, helping us bring superb theatre to our city. All our artists fly Air Canada.”

THE 2010-11 SEASON LINE-UP:

PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT THE MUSICAL
By Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott

OCTOBER & NOVEMBER 2010

At Last! After smash-hit engagements in Sydney and in London’s West End, PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT THE MUSICAL rolls into Toronto this October.

Based on the Oscar®-winning film, PRISCILLA tells the outrageous and heart-warming tale of three friends on a road trip to the middle of nowhere who end up finding more than they could ever have dreamed possible! With an incredible array of jaw-dropping costumes and an irresistible score of more than 20 dance-floor classics, PRISCILLA is a sensational journey to the heart of fabulous. So get ready for the ultimate feel-great theatrical experience…and HOP ABOARD!

“INGENIOUS… SPECTACULAR… A BIG HIT MUSICAL!” – The Evening Standard
“The Best Feel-Good Show Since ‘Mamma Mia’!” – The Sunday Express
“Eye-popping! EXTRAVAGANT!” – The Guardian
“Insanely euphoric and wildly contagious!”- The Daily Telegraph


A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM
Book By Burt Shevelove & Larry Gelbart
Music & Lyrics By Stephen Sondheim

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival Production
Directed By Des McAnuff

Originally Produced on Broadway By Harold S. Prince

DECEMBER 2010 & JANUARY 2011

“Panderers! Philanderers! Cupidi
ty! Timidity!” A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum has them all! The Stratford Festival’s summertime sensation comes to the Toronto stage. Acclaimed director Des McAnuff and an all-star cast of the best comedic actors in Canadian theatre bring us their scintillating, sexy and spectacular staging of the great Stephen Sondheim musical farce. With such hit production numbers as Comedy Tonight and Everybody Ought to Have a Maid,

“ ****A Beautifully crafted show…pace never lets up and neither do the laughs.” – The Toronto Star
“Uproarious! Brilliantly inventive” – Canwest News Service
“A Celebration! Delightful! No denying the appeal of this FORUM!” – The Globe and Mail
“Packed with great emotional punch and side-splitting shtick” – The Chicago Tribune


BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL
Music By Elton John
Book & Lyrics by Lee Hall
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Choreographed by Peter Darling

BEGINS FEBRUARY 2011

Thrilling audiences worldwide and the winner of 73 international awards, including the Best Musical 2009 Tony® Award, “THE BEST SHOW YOU WILL EVER SEE” (New York Post) is coming to Toronto! 

Composer Elton John, writer Lee Hall, director Stephen Daldry and choreographer Peter Darling have joined forces to create this inspiring and immensely entertaining musical. BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL is a joyous and exciting celebration of one young boy’s triumph against the odds. 

Called “THE MOST INSPIRING SHOW I’VE SEEN IN YEARS” by The New York Times and based on the international smash-hit film, the story follows Billy’s journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class and discovers his dream to dance. Full of life, laughter, award-winning choreography and the unforgettable music of Elton John, this uplifting show will stay with you forever.

“A Triumph!” – The New York Times
“The Best Musical Of The Decade!” – Time Magazine
“A global theatrical PHENOMENON!” – The LA Times
“Truly electrifying…this heart-stopping show is a must-see.” –
The Mail on Sunday
“Pure magic.” – The Sunday Express
“The greatest British musical I have ever seen.” – The Daily Telegraph


THE SECRET GARDEN
Book and Lyrics By Marsha Norman
Music by Lucy Simon
Based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett

MARCH & APRIL 2011

It’s an all-new production of a beloved, classic story! Frances Hodgson Burnett’s great children’s novel, THE SECRET GARDEN, comes to wondrous life in the enchanting music of Lucy Simon and spellbinding lyrics of Marsha Norman (Tony® Award-winner for Best Book of a Musical). In a sad and lonely house on the Yorkshire moors, the melancholy routine of a family in mourning is turned upside down with the arrival of the young orphan, Mary. When the curious child discovers the key to the hidden door of a secret, walled garden, a long locked-away magic is released, changing the lives of all, forever. “It’s just a garden. But all I would ask is never, never to leave.”

“A Treat for All! A garden of delights” – The Daily Mail


SWEET CHARITY
Book By Neil Simon
Music By Cy Coleman
Lyrics By Dorothy Fields
Directed By Matthew White

MARCH & APRIL 2011

Direct from London’s West End, and produced by the famed Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre, comes an all-new, hit production of the great musical comedy by Neil Simon, Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields. SWEET CHARITY follows the misadventures in love of the gullible and guileless Charity Hope Valentine, a woman who always gives her heart to the wrong man. Cy Coleman’s exuberant score sparkles with such favourites as Hey, Big Spender, If My Friends Could See Me Now and The Rhythm of Life.

“Sizzling, sexy…a winner!”
– The Sunday Express
“Romping production…This is a cracking musical!” – The Sunday Times
“Exhilaratingly Staged… Flawless!” – Variety
“Amazingly Energetic! Sizzling Choreography…A Delight!” – The Evening Standard


CALENDAR GIRLS
By Tim Firth
Directed by Marti Maraden

APRIL & MAY 2001

Direct from London’s West End, comes the North American premiere of Britain’s newest comedy sensation, based on the award-winning motion picture.

Meet Miss January, Miss February, Miss March, Miss April, Miss May and the seven other members of a very ordinary women’s club as they spark an uproar with a charity fundraiser. It’s a calendar, but one with a difference. These ladies will drop everything for a good cause! Make a date now with the CALENDAR GIRLS!

“A show whose feel-good factor is sky high!” – The Guardian
“One of the most enjoyable evenings recent theatre has produced!” – The Evening Standard


Exact dates, venues and casting to be announced at later dates.


SUBSCRIPTIONS NOW ON SALE

Six-show subscriptions are now available, and priced from $112 to $555. Subscribers save up to 50% off single ticket prices and receive many other benefits, including: first choice of seats for every show; free, easy, flexible ticket exchange; an easy payment plan; parking and dining discounts; free subscription to email newsletter and show reminders; Honest Ed’s Gift Card; free exclusive subscriber events; and discounts and priority tickets to non-subscription shows.

To Subscribe call 416-593-4225 or 1-800-771-3933 
or visit www.mirvish.com


BONUS SHOWS – Six more great shows, off-subscription, but available first to subscribers at special prices:

MY MOTHER’S LESBIAN JEWISH WICCAN WEDDING
Panasonic Theatre
February 26 – March 21
The sweet, charming and very funny new Canadian musical that took Toronto by storm in 2009, returns to enchant new fans (and re-enchant old ones). It’s smart, feel-good fun and a show for everyone who’s ever been in love!

ROCK OF AGES
Royal Alexandra Theatre
Begins April 20
Small town girl meets big city boy and the rest is Rock ‘n’ Roll history! The ‘80s rock again in this new Broadway hit. A Canadian Premiere, starring We Will Rock You’s Yvan Pednault and The Sound of Music’s Elicia MacKenzie!

MAMMA MIA!
Princess of Wales Theatre
April 28 – June 6
The global musical phenomenon comes home to Toronto! ABBA hits from Dancing Queen to Take a Chance on Me are ingeniously woven into an enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship.

A JEW GROWS IN BROOKLYN
Panasonic Theatre
April 28 – May 16
Author, actor and musician Jake Ehrenreich’s touching, poignant and hilarious new musical about an immigrant family in Brooklyn and a boy’s quest for the American Dream through baseball, pop music and borscht-belt comedy had a yearlong run in New York and has toured major cities across the U.S. It is finally having its Canadian Premiere.

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
Canon Theatre
June 8 – 13
After five sell-out weeks in December and January, Tony Award®-winner Harvey Fierstein returns as Tevye the dairyman. He brings his unique chutzpah, humour and comic style to one of the best-loved roles in m
usical theatre. One week only!

WINGFIELD – LOST AND FOUND
Panasonic Theatre
January 12 – 23 
Let the laughter begin! Perennial Canadian favourite Rod Beattie returns as Walt Wingfield in the Toronto stockbroker- turned-farmer’s latest comic (mis)adventure. Written by Dan Needles and directed by Doug Beattie, this is heralded as the best Wingfield show to date! Toronto Premiere.