Toronto Phantom to Close Sept. 26 After Ten Years; Fosse Booked Next

News   Toronto Phantom to Close Sept. 26 After Ten Years; Fosse Booked Next
 
Livent announced March 11 that its long-running Toronto production of The Phantom of the Opera -- seen by 7 million people -- would fade into the mist Sept. 26, when it plays its final performance after 10 years.

Livent announced March 11 that its long-running Toronto production of The Phantom of the Opera -- seen by 7 million people -- would fade into the mist Sept. 26, when it plays its final performance after 10 years.

The historic, restored Pantages Theatre, the first jewel in the Livent crown of properties, will next host the Livent North American tour of Fosse for a six week engagement beginning Jan. 5, 2000.

Before the Sept. 26 shuttering, guest stars in the role of the Phantom from April to September will be:

* Rene Simard, a Quebec singer who has recorded 47 albums and toured the world. April 2-May 23.
* Paul Stanley, a founding member of the rock group KISS, the costumed 1970s band that made a comeback in the 1990s. May 25-Aug. 1.
* Jeff Hyslop, the Canadian Phantom veteran who has played the role for more than 800 performances, and also played Molina in Livent's Kiss of the Spider Woman in London and Broadway. Aug. 3-Sept. 26.

Phantom of the Opera will celebrate its 4000th performances in Toronto April 16. Fosse, the touring spinoff of the popular Broadway revue of dances by Bob Fosse, will play the Pantages Jan. 5-Feb. 13, 2000. The production will first play Livent's Ford Center for the Performing Arts-Oriental Theatre, in Chicago. Fosse opened to generally favorable reviews on Broadway Jan. 14, at the Broadhurst Theatre.

A Livent spokesman told Playbill On-Line that after Phantom closes Sept. 26, it would take about a month to strike the complicated set from the theatre, and 6-8 weeks for general "housecleaning and some repairs" following the decade-long residency of the Andrew Lloyd Webber spectacle.

Phantom, which has apparently run its profitability course, represented good times for Livent, rocked last year by financial mismanagement allegations, the ousting of its president and chairman and bankruptcy in Canada and the U.S. Although staff was slashed in the fall of 1998, employees representing Livent's viable properties (like Ragtime, Fosse and Phantom) were kept on salary.

It takes about 150 people, on stage and behind the scenes and in the theatre, to mount Phantom every night. Livent estimates thousands of artists and technicians have worked the show since 1989.

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The painstaking restoration of the Pantages Theatre on Yonge Street was done specifically for the Toronto sitdown of The Phantom of the Opera. It topped a decade that had seen the Ontario metropolis became a genuine tourist destination for theatregoers hungry for Broadway worthy musical theatre.

Markets throughout Ontario and the U.S., including Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo, saw ads for Livent fare, and were familiar with the booming, sonorous, declamatory, "Buy Phantom By Phone!" radio and TV ads.

The boom of spectacle theatre in Toronto began, of course, with Cats, presented by Marlene Smith at the Elgin Theatre in the early 1980s, and continued throughout the 1980s and '90s with:

* Les Miserables, presented in 1989, 1991 and 1992 by Livent's booking/producing competition, Ed and David Mirvish, at their Royal Alexandra Theatre.
* Aspects of Love, a redesigned and newly directed (by Robin Phillips) version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway box office flop (Livent at the Elgin).
* Miss Saigon, for which the Mirvishes built the Princess of Wales Theatre.
* Beauty and the Beast (Mirvishes at the Princess).
* Show Boat (Livent at the Ford Center in North York, in metro Toronto).
* Sunset Boulevard (Livent at the Ford Center).
* Jane Eyre (Mirvishes at the Royal Alex).
* Crazy for You (Mirvishes at the Royal Alex).
* Tommy (Mirvishes at the Elgin).
* Crazy for You (Mirvishes at the Royal Alex).
* Ragtime (Livent at the Ford Center).
* Rent (Mirvishes at the Royal Alex).
* Coming in 2000: The Lion King at the Princess of Wales.

It was generally thought, however, that Phantom -- a West End and Broadway smash -- was the focal point of the major legit activity in Toronto, drawing attention to the community in general.

Studies by Tourism Toronto estimate that Phantom had a $1.4 billion (Cdn.) economic impact on the region. Livent said the Toronto and touring Canadian productions generated a combined box office of $562 million (Cdn.).

(There are also several active and respected nonprofit resident companies in Toronto, such as Canadian Stage Company and the Tarragon Theatre.)

Tickets for Phantom's "final block of performances" -- a marketing term popularized by Livent -- are "rolled back" to 1989 prices (C$33.50-$75) for those buying by April 4.

For ticket information, call (416) 872-2222.

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