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A Surge in Theatre in Toronto: What Does It Mean?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world was shut down in 2020, which meant restaurants, hotels, and theatres were all closed. Because of this, theatre shows were either put on hold or cancelled.

Now, in 2024, there is a heavy presence of theatre, from touring shows coming in for two weeks at a time and big dance shows, to hit Broadway musicals taking up residence. 

Why is this happening, and what does this mean for the future of theatre in Toronto?

When Did It Start?

The surge of shows started at the end of 2023, with Mirvish bringing six musicals and temporary two-week runs of plays and musicals on tour. 

Small theatres like the Crows Theatre, Soulpepper Theatre, and Neptune Theatre came out with their production schedules, listing about six shows for the coming year. Some of their really successful shows, like Uncle Vanya and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, were picked up by Mirvish for extended runs at one of their several theatres. 

Beyond plays and musicals, the Lighthouse Immersive Gallery has hosted several shows, including Disney Immersive, which allowed guests to interact with the show, while Shen Yun and Stomp are in town with more dance shows coming up. 

It seems like everywhere in Toronto, productions are popping up with a mix of well-known musicals and new plays to creative reimaginings, like Soulpepper’s Three Sisters.

Why Are There So Many shows?

The various shows that have come in the 2023-2024 season are due to the effects caused by the pandemic. Despite the fact that theatres were allowed to open back up in July 2021, there were many regulations about audience sizes and the usage of masks, making it difficult for people to return. 

Now that all regulations have been lifted, any delayed shows are coming back along with new shows. Every theatre is eager to put out performances and recoup the losses they suffered over the peak of the lockdown period. 

This is also the reason why there are more touring shows than ever before in Toronto, as Mirvish is trying to make sure their theatres are always full beyond their main six-show season. 

Another reason behind this mass of shows found itself in further restrictions, like crossing borders for touring shows and development, as shows — especially new ones — need time to write, direct, rehearse, and be produced.

What Shows Are Coming This Year?

There are many shows coming in 2024, with many that have already gone. As previously mentioned, Mirvish has the monopoly of shows coming this year, with 18 shows either still playing or with plans to come out throughout the rest of the year! 

Seven of those are connected to their main season, with Six, Tina Turner The Musical, and Les Mis still left for the 2023-2024 season. Some touring shows include Hyprov in April, Jesus Christ Superstar in May, Wicked from June to July, and Shrek in August. 

Some musicals coming for a residence are the return of Come From Away in September and an all-Canadian production of The Lion King starting in November.

In dance, Shen Yun is returning in April, Stomp is coming in May, The National Ballet with tours from France in October, and Fall For Dance North is returning in November. 

And lastly, other shows coming are Crow’s Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner in May, Soulpepper’s A Streetcar Named Desire in June and July, Lighthouse’s The Art of Banksy in May through September, and Neptune’s A Midnight Summer’s Dream in September.

This year proves to be a big year for theatre, with the ability to see a new show every week. There is a show for everyone, not only with musicals and plays returning to Toronto but also comedy shows, concerts, and operas coming to the vibrant city. 

Whether it lasts or not, this boost in entertainment brings people into Canada’s Theatre Hub and connects people with what we lost during the pandemic: connection.

Emily Taylor

Toronto MU '27

Emily Taylor is currently attending Toronto Metropolitan University in her first year in the Performance: Production program. She has always enjoyed creative writing, finding it an outlet from her crazy school schedule. In her free time, she reads (too much) and spends time with her friends and two cats.