The smash Toronto run of the hit international Disney musical was to close Sept. 28 due to a recent slump in business — some of it linked to what has been called the unwarranted hysteria over a local but contained outbreak of SARS. But "due to popular demand," performances will continue.
A group of private and public sector organizations has come together to launch a marketing campaign promoting Toronto as the ultimate entertainment destination for the fall to visitors, especially to those in the U.S. border cities, it was announced Aug. 5.
In a statement, producer David Mirvish said, "During the SARS scare, visitors, who have made up a large portion of the audience, stopped coming to Toronto. In response, we announced [June 2] that The Lion King would end its record-breaking run in September and that Mamma Mia! would transfer to Vancouver for the summer.
"But since announcing the show's end...The Lion King has shown a remarkable turnaround. The show has been selling out and looks like it will continue to do so for the rest of its run."
It looks like Nov. 2 might not really be the close for the long-running show. "With the marketing support of the Toront03 Alliance and the OTMPC in the key U.S. border cities, Disney and I have decided to extend the show's run at least until Nov. 2, 2003," Mirvish said. "This is an enormous sign of confidence in Toronto's tourism recovery." It seems likely The Lion King will play during the typically busy holiday season, when people want to celebrate with a special event like theatre.
Earlier this year a campaign was launched to lure tourists to the Ontario city, with entertainment, sports, hotel and dining packages. The new campaign is driven by the Toront03 Alliance, the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation (an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Tourism), theatrical producer Mirvish Productions and more than forty hotels, restaurants, cultural and tourism attractions.
Like the first package, this is called "It's Time for a Little Toronto." For only $169 (Canadian), which amounts to about $120 U.S.,per person, visitors can enjoy Toronto's top attractions between Sept. 10-Nov. 2, 2003.
"Similarly," Mirvish said, "Mamma Mia! will return to Toronto having had a great success in Vancouver where it served as a prime motivator for tourism to the country's West Coast. But on Sept. 30, it will be Toronto's favorite show again."
It had been previously announced that Mamma Mia! would return to the city. Performances will resume at the Royal Alexandra Theatre Sept. 30.
Coming up this season in Mirvish theatres in Toronto: Two Pianos, Four Hands, The Producers (starting Nov. 21 at the Canon Theatre), Copenhagen, The Hollow Crown, Hairspray and more.
For information about hotel, dining and theatre packages, call TicketKing at (416) 872-1212 or (800) 461-3333. Information is also available online at www.toront03.com.
For more information about attractions presented by the Mirvishes, the First Family of Toronto theatre, visit www.mirvish.com.