Toronto producers David & Ed Mirvish announced June 2 they will close their award-winning production, which began performances in Toronto on March 30, 2000. The north-of-the-border spinoff company of the Broadway smash did booming business over the years and is billed as Toronto's No. 1 tourist attraction.
"After conducting market research in the United States this past weekend," said David Mirvish in a statement, "we have determined that Toronto needs a compelling and urgent reason to motivate visitors to visit our city this summer. Our research told us there are still hundreds of thousands of people who want to see The Lion King in Toronto. To these people we would like to say: This will be the last summer in Toronto to catch what is without a doubt one of the landmark theatrical productions of all time. Visit us this summer. In July and August, our city will have so many events for you to enjoy Disney's production of The Lion King performed by a great company of Canadian, American and South African artists."
The Mirvishes were among those outraged by the World Health Organization's determination earlier this year that people should avoid Toronto due to possible SARS exposure. WHO subsequently changed its stance, but fears of economic impact due to the stigma of a health threat linger.
"There have been many rumors over the last few weeks about the fate of many of Toronto's tourist events," David Mirvish said in a statement. "These rumors all take a negative stance. But we do not view our news as negative. We believe our news is an opportunity to boost visitors to Toronto this summer. We call on all Torontonians to welcome visitors..."
In a statement, Thomas Schumacher, the original producer of The Lion King, and president of Disney Theatrical Productions, said: "The Toronto engagement of The Lion King has far exceeded our expectations. When we opened here, we originally planned an 18-month run as a part of a North American tour. But with our success in Toronto, we were put in the enviable position of having to create an entirely new production for the U.S. tour, allowing us to extend out Toronto engagement. When we conclude our run at the Princess of Wales Theatre on Sunday, September 28, we will have played more than three-and-a-half years, over 1300 performances to over 2.3 million people." Tickets range $26-$116 (Canadian). For information, call (416) 872-1212 or (800) 461-3333 or visit www.mirvish.com.
Next up at the Princess of Wales, the contemporary venue that opened in the 1990s with Miss Saigon, is the Royal Shakespeare Company staging of The Hollow Crown in February-March 2004, followed by Hairspray in April-May 2004.