Stage Door News

Toronto: Beginning July 21 “Ghosts of the Royal Alex” – a new online six-part biweekly series

Monday, July 20, 2020

Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre is the most famous haunted theatre in Canada. Don’t worry, the ghosts are all gentle souls, mostly performers who loved the theatre so much that they decided to make it their spiritual home.

That is, if you believe in ghosts. You do, don’t you?

Or maybe you are skeptical, like the protagonist of the story in the new biweekly series, Ghosts of the Royal Alex, available exclusively in the new e-magazine, Meanwhileon and in podcast form everywhere they are available.

Ghosts of the Royal Alex is told in story and song.  No, it isn’t a musical in the traditional sense. It is a thematically connected series that marries the two disciplines to explore the past lives that haunt theatres everywhere.

The Story

Every second week, Meanwhile will publish a new chapter of a serialized story that takes place backstage at the Royal Alex and deals with its ghosts. Each chapter will be available in written form and as a podcast.

The story is set in 1959, a pivotal moment in the history of the Royal Alex and Toronto theatre. The proliferation of television sets in people’s homes is threatening the financial health of theatres everywhere; the building of the O’Keefe Centre, a new-mega theatre, calls into question the continued existence of the 52-year-old Royal Alex; and the burgeoning Canadian theatre movement is providing both opportunity and competition. Herbie McGill, the beleaguered general manager of the Royal Alex, does what he can to make sure his theatre continues its tradition of offering great shows. But first he must investigate the stories he has heard from a new stage door man about ghosts backstage. What he learns will lead him into an odyssey of self-discovery and challenge his lack of belief in the spirit world. 

The story is by John Karastamatis … and by the story’s readers. John has come up with the concept and the main characters; the readers act as “ghost writers” and help decide how the story develops. At the end of each new chapter, readers are asked for suggestions for what should happen next.  If an idea is used, the ghost writer will receive a credit and a $100 Mirvish gift card.

Each chapter is available to be read and listened to. The podcast can be sourced at all the usual websites and applications. The podcast is read by David Mucci, who holds the record for the most performances on the Royal Alex stage (Cyrano de Bergerac, 1984; Les Misérables, 1989-1990; Buddy, 1990; Man of La Mancha, 1993; Crazy for You, 1993-1995; Mamma Mia!, 2000-2003).

The Songs

The six-song cycle is by Ron Jacobson, the current general manager (since 1993) of the Royal Alex and an acclaimed composer and songwriter. Each song is about a different ghost that haunts the theatre.

The debut song is performed by actor Steffi DiDomenicantonio, who stars as Janice Mosher, the young Rogers TV reporter in the Canadian production of Come From Away. The second song is performed by Broadway star Jim Walton, who began his illustrious 38-year career in the world premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along. The performers of the remaining four sings will be announced soon.

To read the story, hear the podcast, watch videos of the songs: