The first "Goosebumps" book (of more than 240) appeared in 1982, tingling spines of pre-teens everywhere. The television series debuted in 1995. And a movie is in the works. Now, there's Goosebumps -- Live on Stage a new thriller written and directed by Rupert Holmes (The Mystery of Edwin Drood). The show is due to run at Livent's Ford Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto Oct. 13-25.
As with the phenomenally popular children's books, Goosebumps features a variety of plucky, self-reliant children who get themselves into all sorts of fixes which they inevitably overcome. The production, called a "Twilight Zone" for kids, will be filled with special effects and thrills and is aimed at audiences of all ages. In addition to Drood, Holmes' credits include a couple of mysteries, Accomplice and Solitary Confinement.
The remainder of the Ford Centre season is dominated by visits from the touring productions of current and former Broadway shows. The musical Annie (Sept. 8-20) opens the 1998-99 season. As in its 1997 Broadway incarnation, Conrad John Schuck plays Daddy Warbucks and Brittny Kissinger is the title orphan. Sally Struthers ("All in the Family") is the evil Miss Hannigan, a role played by Nell Carter on Broadway. Martin Charnin directs.
The popular Leiber & Stoller revue, Smokey Joe's Cafe (Oct. 28-Nov. 22), comes in after Goosebumps. Smokey Joe's is still in residence at Broadway's Virginia Theatre after more than three years. Livent's own production of Barrymore (Nov. 24-Dec. 6), starring Christopher Plummer, follows. The Toronto stop is the last in the play's current North American tour, which begins July 11 in Denver. Plummer won a Tony Award for his portrayal of legendary actor John Barrymore.
The national tour of Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk (Dec. 10, 1998-Jan. 3, 1999) goes over 'da border to fill the Centre's fifth slot. The tap extravaganza is followed by the cast of gymnasts, contortionists, dancers, singers and actors who make up Cirque Ingenieux (Jan. 5-24). This hybrid of European circus tradition and Broadway expertise tells the story of a kid's visit to a circus and the dreams it later inspires. The Ford season will conclude with a visit from Cathy Rigby, the star of the current tour of the musical Peter Pan (Jan. 29-Feb. 21), which is expected on Broadway sometime this fall.
For information on the above shows, call (416) 872-2222.
-- By Robert Simonson