Lack of Summer Tourists Helps Sink The Producers in Toronto; 33-Week Run Ends July 4

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04 Jul 2004

Michael Therriault (left) and Se
Michael Therriault (left) and Se
Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann
The Toronto staging of The Producers ends July 4, two months earlier than the announced closing and shy of recouping its investment in the Canadian city where theatre is considered a major tourist draw.

The announcement of the premature closing came the same day the show won six 2004 Dora Mavor Moore Awards, Toronto's highest theatre prize. Among other Doras, it took Best Musical, and actors Michael Therriault and Juan Chioran won in leading and featured actor categories.

By the end of the run, the performance count at the Canon Theatre will be 258 performances — a 33-week stretch far shorter than other New York-bred hits such as The Lion King and The Phantom of the Opera, which were popular in Toronto.

The expensive-to-run Producers sold $32 million (Canadian) in tickets in its 33-week run, according to a spokesman. "However, looking forward toward the summer, it was clear it would be very difficult to continue the run," he said.

A lack of American tourists this season is cited as a major reason for the shuttering. "In Toronto we have always relied on American visitors to make up the bulk of the audience during the summer months," John Karastamatis, of Toronto's Mirvish Productions, told Playbill On-Line. "Traditionally, the locals disappear during June, July and August to their summer homes. In past years, Americans have made up 50 percent to 65 percent of the summer audience. This year, they are making up less than 10 percent."



The final weeks of The Producers were well attended, with performances selling out, he said.

Why else did this American mega-hit disappoint north of the border?

Some say competition in Toronto during the run since fall 2003 was fierce: Hairspray, The Lion King and Mamma Mia! all fought for theatregoers' attention and would have continued to do so this summer (The Lion King has since closed). Some say the subject matter of the show — about corrupt Broadway producers — was too New Yorky.

The Toronto production has no plans to travel to Vancouver. Some of the scenic elements may be used in other productions, although this hasn't been finalized yet, a spokesman said.

The Broadway company continues at the St. James Theatre in New York and two national tours continue on the road. Presumably one of them will make it to Canada's west coast.

Bialystock and Bloom, the corrupt titular impresarios, were played by Seán Cullen and Michael Therriault, respectively, in Toronto. The all-Canadian cast also features Juan Chioran as Roger DeBris, Paul O'Sullivan as Franz Liebkind, Sarah Cornell as Ulla and Brandon McGibbon as Carmen Ghia. Susan Stroman won a Dora for her direction, Rick Fox for his musical direction and Steve C. Kennedy for his sound design.

With a Tony Award-winning book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, Tony Award winning music and lyrics by Mel Brooks and direction and choreography by five-time Tony Award winner Susan Stroman, The Producers swept the 2001 Tony Awards, receiving the most in Broadway history, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score.

The Canon Theatre (formerly the Pantages) is at 244 Victoria Street, Toronto. For ticket information, call (416) 872-1212 or (800) 461-3333, or visit www.mirvish.com.