Entertainment

Come From Away to permanently close in Toronto over pandemic restrictions, Mirvish Productions says

Mirvish Productions is permanently closing its musical Come From Away in Toronto, describing the costs of reopening amid tightened pandemic restrictions "prohibitively high and risky."

Founder of Mirvish Productions bemoans lack of government 'safety net' for theatre sector

Actors take part in a rehearsal for the musical Come from Away in this undated handout photo. (The Canadian Press)

Mirvish Productions is permanently closing its musical Come From Away in Toronto, describing the costs of reopening amid tightened pandemic restrictions as "prohibitively high and risky."

The Gander, N.L.-set show had reopened after a 21-month pandemic hiatus on Dec. 15, but ended its run a week later amid a COVID-19 outbreak among crew.

Mirvish cancelled four December shows and planned for the Tony Award-winning musical to return on Tuesday to the Royal Alexandra Theatre.

However, founder David Mirvish said Monday it's become "bluntly apparent that it would be impossible to continue when this incredibly contagious variant has sent case numbers soaring."

In a statement, he said there has been a lack of a government "safety net" for the commercial theatre sector, where revenue is strained by tightened pandemic restrictions that have imposed a 50 per cent capacity limit on Ontario's large venues.

Without such support, David Mirvish said "the risks, uncertainty and financial situation have left us without another realistic outcome."

He added: "The costs of reopening a second time are prohibitively high and risky."

In an interview with CBC News, John Karastamatis, director of communications and programming with Mirvish, said Come from Away was "a big show, an expensive show to put on."

The capacity limit — which the province announced the same day the show reopened — and the outbreak a week later constituted a double blow that couldn't be overcome, he said.

Being commercial theatre, "the show has to pay for itself through box office earnings," Karastamatis said. "The Royal Alexandra Theatre where it's playing holds 1,250 seats, and it needs most of those just to be able to pay the costs."

Adding to that was the risk of future outbreaks forcing the show to shut down again if it reopened.

He added: "To open and close, open and close, is just not a good way to go forward," he said.

With files from CBC News

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