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THE SCOOP | Toronto Theatre Community In Shock As Come From Away Closes Permanently

By Michael Vincent on December 27, 2021

Photo courtesy of Come From Away Toronto/Instagram

After just returning from a 21-month shutdown, Mirvish has announced they will be closing all remaining dates for Toronto’s hometown hit musical Come From Away.

The decision came late today after the production was held for three performances between December 23, 24 and 26. The initial closure was due to an instance of COVID-19 infecting backstage theatre staff.

“I know this news is shocking, and it causes me and our partners great pain to have to take this action, but we are simply out of options,” said David Mirvish. “The most responsible way forward is to close the production.”

While they had hoped to reopen on December 28, the decision to pull the plug on the remaining performances was due to ongoing uncertainty over the Omicron variant hitting Ontario hard.

“…During this short break, it became bluntly apparent that it would be impossible to continue when this incredibly contagious variant has sent case numbers soaring,” said Mirvish.

Mirvish cited the financial governmental support for musical theatre markets in the US, U.K, and Australia but lamented the lack of support offered to the live sector in Canada.

“In other parts of the world, the government has stepped up to support the commercial theatre sector by offering a financial safety net for the sector to reopen and play during the pandemic, thus protecting the tens of thousands of good jobs the sector creates,” said Mirvish.

“In Canada, there is no such government support. And without such a safety net, it is impossible for the production to take yet another extended hiatus. The costs of reopening a second time are prohibitively high and risky.”

The closure represents a substantial blow for Canada’s largest musical theatre company. Come From Away was to run through March 13, 2022, and would have likely generated millions of dollars in revenue for the presenters which has been operating on fumes for the past two years.

On Christmas eve, Mirvish announced all remaining performances of the touring production of Jesus Christ Superstar were also cancelled. This affected only 11 dates, before moving onto Boston. Jesus Christ Superstar has managed to perform the majority of its dates with 39 shows.

It is not known if they plan to bring the productions back again next season.

Omicron Fall out

As of Saturday, December 18 at 12:01 a.m., the province applied new rules that include a 50% limit on audiences at sports or entertainment venues with a capacity for 1,000 people or more, which also include outdoor gatherings.

While most arts presenters have yet to return from the winter holidays, unless the situation improves, there is a very real possibility that those offering cultural events in large venues will be heavily impacted. This includes the National Arts Centre, National Ballet, Toronto Symphony and Canadian Opera Company, as well as sports events from the NHL to the NBA.

Crunching the numbers

  • More than one million patrons have seen the show during its run, February 13, 2018 to March 13, 2020 and December 15 to 22, 2021, at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
  • Box office sales surpassed $115 M including over $15 M in HST
  • The estimated economic impact to the Toronto economy of $920 M
  • The show created 9K employment weeks for cast, stage managers, musicians, crew members and front of house team members.
  • It had been 643 days since the show was last performed at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre.

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Michael Vincent
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