The 1998-99 season of Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre will be a little bit British, a little bit Broadway. The line-up for Canada's oldest continuously operating theatre will begin with the North American debut of English playwright Terry Johnson's Hysteria (Sept. 9-Oct. 17). Johnson's surreal farce, which was originally performed at London's Royal Court Theatre, takes a trip into the unconscious of the father of the unconscious, Sigmund Freud.
The Alexandra's first musical of the season, Fame (Nov. 9-Dec. 19), follows. After two years of success in the West End and touring throughout Europe, the musical will at last launch a North American tour at the theatre. The tuner about the Fiorello La Guardia High School of Music, Art and Performing Arts was conceived by David de Silva, the same man behind the film and television series of the same name.
The tour has been in development for seven years. It will be directed and choreographed by Swedish star Lars Bethke, who directed successful productions of the musical in Sweden and a production currently touring Germany. Music for the stage production is by Steve Margoshes with lyrics by Jacques Levy, and book by Jose Fernandez.
Next on the roster is Neil Simon's Proposals (Feb. 9-Mar. 20), which played briefly on Broadway this past season. The play--about an elderly divorced man, his daughter and his housekeeper, all of whom find romance, or something like it, at a Pocono country house--features Canadian theatre star Al Waxman. Proposals is a co-production with the Manitoba Theatre Centre.
The Alexandra will also bring the acclaimed London production of the Lionel Bart musical Oliver! to North America sometime in early 1999 (dates to be announced). The show recently completed a three-year run at London's Palladium Theatre--the longest run in that house's history. Eric Schaeffer, the artistic director of Arlington, Virginia's Signature Theatre will direct and Matthew Bourne will provide the choreography. Bourne's rendition of Swan Lake is due on Broadway this fall.
Concluding the season will be the Toronto premiere of Terrence McNally's Master Class (Mar. 23-May 1), in which Dixie Carter will repeat her Broadway performance as opera diva Maria Callas; and a revival of Thornton Wilder's Our Town (May 7-June 19) presented by The Soulpepper Theatre Company, a new Canadian classical acting troupe. No other casting for the season has been announced. For information on the Royal Alexandra Theatre's season, call (416) 593-4225.
-- By Robert Simonson