One night, during a reception in the lobby of one of his two magnificent theatres in Toronto, I asked David Mirvish how a particular production (I forget which one) was doing in rehearsal. The perennially optimistic Mirvish said: "Oh, very well. But you never know -- theatre is a dicey business."
That about sums up the $30-million dollar gamble he took with the musical version of The Lord of the Rings, the sprawling J.R.R. Tolkien allegory (reviewed in Aisle Say several months ago) that announced its closure in Toronto this week. Speaking at a press conference on behalf of the British side of the production team, producer Kevin Wallace noted in somewhat churlish and paradoxical remarks that it was the critics what done the thing in -- they just didn't seem to "get" the genius of it all. He predicted that the British public will warmly embrace the show when it opens at Andrew Lloyd Webber's Drury Lane theatre in the spring of 2007.
In the meantime, Wallace admitted that he did learn a lot from the experience including all of the negative reviews and that the production that will open in London will have a book that is trimmed and a score that is expanded.
So the producers will roll the dice again in about nine months -- this time on their home turf. Stay tuned to this tuner for further details.