'Les Miserables,' 'Arrabal' among titles in lineup

TORONTO

A new Canadian production of the 25th anniversary staging of “Les Miserables” and the world preem of a tango musical staged by Broadway regular Sergio Trujillo join the Gotham-bound “Aladdin” among the titles on the supersized 2013-14 slate to be presented in Toronto by Mirvish Prods., the largest commercial theater entity in Canada.

Season marking the company’s 50th year in show business pulls together the largest slate in the org’s history. Lineup comprises seven main subscription shows, four “bonuses” and three entries in the newly launched, experimental “off-Mirvish” season.

An all-Canadian cast appears in the production of “Les Miserables” (with Toronto-born Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean), which will begin a limited engagement in Toronto Sept. 30, followed by the previously announced pre-Broadway tryout of the new big-budget Disney Theatrical Prods. adaptation of “Aladdin.” Helmed by Casey Nicholaw in a staging that kicks off in November, “Aladdin” marks Disney’s first use of Toronto as a tryout town, and Canuck legiters hope it opens the door for similar projects in the future.

The touring company of the 2012 Tony winner “Once” is next up in December, with January bringing the latest entry from the “Riverdance” team, “Heartbeat of Home.”

After such a commercial start, the remaining trio of mainstage subscription shows are decidedly offbeat, starting with the new Argentinian “tango rock musical” called “Arrabal,” directed and choreographed by Trujillo (whose Rialto choreography credits include “Jersey Boys” and “Memphis”).

Also on the bill are an adaptation of Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” with a score by Nick Cave plus a new mounting of the 2007 Chichester and West End hit “The Last Confession,” with David Suchet (“Poirot”) starring as a cardinal caught up in the suddenly topical story of a papal election.

The “bonus” shows will include an all-Canadian production of “Cats,” the first to play Toronto since the show began the mega-musical craze there in 1985; “I Love Lucy — Alive on Stage,” a hit already in Los Angeles and Chicago; as well as two other perennial touring favorites, “Stomp” and “The Lion King.”

The off-Mirvish season, which debuted this year to strong response, will continue with “God of Carnage,” produced by Studio 180; the Canadian premiere of George F. Walker’s latest play “Dead Metaphor” (about to receive its world premiere next month at San Francisco’s A.C.T.); and a work still to be selected from the round of International Festivals that present shows each summer.

Founded by retail giant Ed Mirvish and now run by his son David, the organization now sports a subscriber base of 40,000, second in North America only to Walnut Street Theater’s 49,000.

Over the years various competitors, most notably Garth Drabinsky’s Livent and Aubrey Dan’s Dancap, have tried to grab a foothold in the market, but the Mirvish org has always emerged victorious.

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