Guess it's buh-bye to the Princess Of Wales Theatre.
Today it was leaked that the 19-year-old theatre, originally built to house Mirvish's production of Miss Saigon, will soon be as dead as the young royal who gave it her name.
The theatre will be razed to make way for a "condo and culture" complex designed by architect Frank Gehry. One of the new buildings on the site will be a free public gallery to house David Mirvish's enormous collection of contemporary abstract art. The whole plan should take about a decade.
The Royal Alexandra Theatre, also owned by the Mirvishes, will survive. I suppose Mirvish knew that a building with that fabled history would generate more of a public outcry had it got the axe.
The news comes amidst the ongoing controversy over what is going to happen several blocks west at the Factory Theatre. In that situation, too, the question of real estate - and not culture - seems to be at the heart.
About 14 years ago, with artistic director and co-founder Ken Gass at the helm, the Factory finished its lease and bought the building for $1.15 million; now it's worth 10 times that. Negotiations between the board and Gass reportedly broke down over their renovation plans. It's no surprise that of the nine Factory board members, three (including president Ron Struys) work in real estate.
Several playwrights have withdrawn their works from the season, and the board has hired two interim co-artistic directors to program the rest of the year. Gass recently said he would not be returning.
The Mirvish situation is a little different. David Mirvish has gone on record saying that the city has more theatres than it can use at the moment.
Currently the Mirvishes run and operate several theatres in the downtown area, besides the Royal Alex. Earlier this week they announced an off-Mirvish season of plays that will mostly run at the Panasonic at Yonge and Bloor. And Sister Act is going up shortly at the Ed Mirvish Theatre, formerly the Canon. (The Wizard Of Oz, which has inspired a reality TV show to find its lead, will arrive there in late December.)
The historic Elgin/Winter Garden Theatres are vacant for many months of the year.
Besides Miss Saigon, the POW has housed many acclaimed shows, including Beauty And The Beast, The Lion King, The Sound Of Music and the current hit War Horse.
If there's not the demand for big shows the way there was in the era of The Phantom Of The Opera and Les Miserables, which - pre-SARS, pre-economic downturn and pre-strong Canadian dollar - regularly drew busloads of American tourists, does it make sense to demolish these theatres and build something that will generate income and make a lot of people money?
Then again, isn't it ironic that in order to build a complex devoted to culture you have to destroy a big symbol of that very culture?