For the first time in over a year, live indoor theatre is returning to Toronto.
Mirvish Productions said Tuesday the “socially distanced sound installation” Blindness will premiere at the Princess of Wales Theatre on Aug. 4 — marking the city’s first indoor stage show since the pandemic shut down theatres in May 2020.
Adapted by Simon Stephens (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) from the José Saramago’s novel, the story is described, fittingly, as “the rise and, ultimately, profoundly hopeful end of an unimaginable global pandemic.” It opened in New York in April.
Blindness was originally scheduled to begin its Toronto run in November 2020.
A Mirvish spokesperson said the theatre company expects the province will be allowing indoor performing arts shows by August.
In its recent three-step reopening plan, the government of Ontario said 70 per cent of the province’s adult population must have had their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine before indoor shows will be allowed. The province hit 50 per cent in mid-May.
The Blindness performance schedule and ticket prices will be released soon; tickets go on sale June 23.
The announcement follows similar moves south of the border.
In early May, Hamilton, Wicked, The Lion King, the Canadian musical Come From Away and other shows said they would return to Broadway this fall, after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said public health restrictions in the state would be lifted on Sept. 14.
London’s West End allowed audiences to return for select shows starting on May 20, with many more productions planned over the summer.
“Finally, it’s Canada’s turn,” said Mirvish Productions founder David Mirvish in a news release. “We are thrilled to be able to take this first step to re-energize the theatre community here, offering much-needed hope to arts workers and audiences alike.”
The reopening won’t mark an immediate return to normal, though. Each performance will be limited to 50 people, all audience members will be in distanced “pods” — sitting either alone or in pairs — and everyone, including staff, will be required to wear a mask.
Most Canadian theatre productions are still in limbo. While some productions have tentatively scheduled dates, they are all contingent on meeting similar vaccination rates. Mirvish’s other shows, including Hamilton, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Come From Away, haven’t had their schedules updated for months.
Ontario’s Stratford Festival, meanwhile, is eyeing a late June season opening. In an interview with CBC News, artistic director Antoni Cimolino said 2021’s festival will take place outside under two open-air canopies, and will cap audience at 100 people. Cimolino said the festival lost millions when it cancelled last year’s run, and with this year’s numbers kept so low, it is unlikely to turn a profit.