The province of Ontario is now investing in stage musicals. At least, they're investing in Lord of the Rings
onstage. Oh, boy. That's just what we want. Politicians as impresarios.
I'm sure, though, that they're making the decision on a sound financial basis, and this is in no way a wild gamble with taxpayer money, whose only guarantee is that the officials involved will have box seats to hand out to friends.
I've been keeping an eye on this since they announced the T.O. opening this spring. It looks like it might just be doable as long as they focus on the emotional weight of the stories and not the epic scale of it. Even the movies in their DVD form cannot quite encompass the full scale of the books but did give us some of the majesty and the primary quest. Cut it back to just the emotional impact and you could probably do it in 3 1/2 hours but it is going to have to be a killer score. I'm guessing that the music is going to make this thing work.
It would be nice if the government backed a show that wasn't re-interpreting a Hollywood movie of a British book. Does no one write musical theater in Canada?
But it's mostly interpretations of homoerotic big budget Jerry Bruckheimer movies. So perhaps that doesn't count.
Actually there are lots of nice musical writers in Canada.
Lisa Lambert for one. Moryn Brebner wrote something called "Little Mercy's First Murder" that was fetching a year or so ago. Brock Simpson writes nice small little musicals. And a Canadian Musical called "The Drowsy Chaperone" is coming to Broadway quite soon.
The problem, of course, is that there's not a lot of money in Canada. There isn't money to do TV shows with a big budget. Do you have any idea how expensive it is to mount a stage musical? I mean...Oy.
As I've said before, "I love that sweet, sweet, sweet theatre money. Sometimes when I write a play, and that play goes up in Canada...I make enough money to buy beer for ONE WHOLE NIGHT!"
(Half a night if I'm paying for someone else's drinks at the same time.)
Mine is too dry a wit, I guess. I know Canadians write musical theater. I'm disappointed that $25 million is going to buying a tourist attraction from overseas rather than having home-grown theater that could become an attraction in its own right.
Toronto has a great comic/improv tradition. (Half the genius of the early Saturday Night Live came from Toronto.) With some money, the talent pool there could theoretically create the next Producers, Hairspray, et al. No one writes anything that ambitious because it's "too expensive."
But a musical doesn't HAVE to be zillions of dollars. The original version of A Chorus Line in The Public Theater was great, and it wasn't by any means an extravaganza. Does no one remember the time before Phantom of the Opera and Cats, with their zillion-dollar, high-concept sets. I do, and I miss it.
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