Performances began April 8. Some 350,000 people will have seen it by the time it closes; it has eight more weeks to recoup its investment there. A year-long run or more — once the norm for Toronto sitdowns of Tony Award-winning smashes such as The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, The Phantom of the Opera and Miss Saigon — will apparently not be the fate of the '60s-flavored musical satire there.
The Producers — a bona fide smash on Broadway — ran far shorter than expected in Toronto, too, closing July 4 after 33 weeks. By the end of its run at the Canon Theatre it played 258 performances.
The Toronto engagement of Hairspray was the first international production of the 2002 Tony Award-winning Broadway hit based on the cult movie by John Waters. A national tour is on the road and the Broadway run continues at the Neil Simon Theatre.
The musical won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, in 2003.
The Canadian cast starred Vanessa Olivarez, the former "American Idol" contestant remembered for her pink hairdo, big voice and bubbly personality, as Tracy Turnblad. Tracy's mother, Edna, was played by Jay Brazeau, a Vancouver actor and veteran of musical theatre. The opening-night cast included Tom Rooney, a beloved actor in Canadian theatre, as Wilbur Turnblad, Tracy's understanding dad and Edna's husband; Michael Torontow as Link Larkin, Susan Henley as Velma Von Tussle, Tara Macri as Amber Von Tussle, Fran Jaye as Motormouth Maybelle, Matthew Morgan as Seaweed, Paul McQuillan as Corny Collins, Jennifer Stewart as Penny Pingleton, Kevin Meaney and Charlotte Moore as various authority figures and (the youngest member of the cast) 12-year-old Shennel Campbell, from Ajax, Ontario, as Little Inez.
The opening night ensemble of Hairspray included Clyde Alves, Breanne Arrigo, Lisa Bell, Adam Bolton, Karen Burthwright, Steven Cutts, Amanda DeFreitas, Felicia Dinwiddie, Starr Dominigue, Nicolas Dromard, Caissie Levy, Desmond Osborne, Melanie Phillipson, Stephanie Pitsiladis, Christine Rossi, Avery Saltzman, Sheldon Smith, Alison Smyth, Lindsay Thomas, Darren Voros, Jesse Weafer, Derek Wiens and Ryan Wilson.
Repeating their Broadway work, Jack O'Brien directed. Choreography was by Jerry Mitchell. The book is by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, with a score by Marc Shaiman (music and lyrics) and Scott Wittman (lyrics).
Hairspray is presented in Canada by David & Ed Mirvish and produced by Margo Lion; Adam Epstein; The Baruch-Viertel-Routh-Frankel Group; James D. Stern/Douglas L. Meyer; Rick Steiner/Frederic H. Mayerson; SEL and GFO; New Line Cinema, in association with Clear Channel Entertainment; A.Gordon/E. McAllister; D. Harris/M. Swinsky; J. and B. Osher.
Tickets are $26-$94 (Canadian). The performance schedule is Tuesday-Saturday at 8 PM and matinees Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 PM.
The Princess of Wales Theatre is at 300 King Street West in Toronto. For ticket information, call (416) 872-1212 or (800) 461-3333 or visit www.mirvish.com.