TORONTO — The road is finally ending, at least in Toronto.
The producing team behind the $24 million stage version of “The Lord of the Rings” announced Wednesday that the epic musical will close Sept. 3 at the Princess of Wales.
News comes after an eventful week during which the show dominated the Dora Mavor Moore Awards, taking seven trophies at Canada’s top legit honors, and producer Kevin Wallace announced “LOTR” will follow “The Producers” into London’s Theater Royal, Drury Lane, opening next June.
News of the Toronto closing, which Wallace and fellow producer David Mirvish broke Wednesday morning, did not come as a surprise to industry insiders. It had been evident for months that the show failed to click with Toronto auds; the only question in most minds was when the notice would be posted.
In recent weeks, the theater’s second balcony had been closed for many perfs, some ticket prices had been reduced, and deep discounting was made available for group sales.
Show opened with high hopes and a $15 million advance on March 23, but most of the North American reviews were mixed to negative. Daily Variety called it “an emotionally hollow behemoth.”
At Wednesday’s press conference, Wallace blamed reviewers for the production’s demise. “If the critics think they don’t have the power, believe me, they do,” he said. “When you’re going to spend $120 on a ticket, you need the affirmation.”
However, Wallace later conceded, “The critics did raise a lot of points that are completely legitimate, and we have been revising the show heavily from the information we received.”
No one connected with the production was willing to reveal specific figures regarding losses. “Although there were some weeks when we came in above break-even, the vast majority of the investors’ money will have to be recouped in London,” Wallace did acknowledge.
To that end, the physical production of the show (which is the property of the Toronto producers) is being donated to Wallace for London in return for an “in-kind” participation in future productions. Despite initial talk that a Broadway run would follow the show’s London incarnation, no mention has been made of bringing the show to New York since the Toronto opening.