Stage Door News

Toronto: “Ghosts of the Royal Alex” continues with a new chapter and a new song

Monday, August 3, 2020

The six-part serialized story (available in a podcast) and song cycle (released as a music video) called Ghosts of the Royal Alex continues today with a new chapter and new song release. 

The Story

In the previous two chapters, Herbie McGill, the seemingly unflappable general manager of the Royal Alex, is fighting for his beloved theatre’s existence. It’s 1959 and Toronto is just about to become a big city with the boom in immigration after WWII. The Royal Alex, built in the days of a homogeneously WASP-only closed society, before two world wars and a pandemic shattered the city’s isolation and ignorance, has its own growing-up to do as the city’s cultural landscape has had seismic shifts. Not only does McGill have to deal with New York and London touring shows choosing to book the O’Keefe Centre, which is under construction and due to open in 1960, but he also has to squash rumours of ghost hauntings.

Jack, the new stage door man, says he is being harassed and bullied by nasty spirits backstage. McGill investigates and discovers a world he has always denied and powers he has never known. His investigation of these powers leads to harrowing encounters and an unsettling meeting with Jack, who deserted his overnight shift. in a working-class tavern cross from the city’s new social housing development, Regent Park, Jack shared startling new information. He also tells McGill he is too frightened to return to the job. McGill will have to substitute for him for the time being.

In chapter three, McGill returns to the Royal Alex for the overnight shift in an empty Royal Alex. He encounters something new and unexpected which propels him even further into his quest to get to the truth about the spirits whose existence he no longer doubts.

The Song

Song three of Ron Jacobson's six-part cycle is entitled “The Bottle and the Song.” It tells us more about Yvette Lafayette, the wayward spirit of the Royal Alex whose raucous doings have scared Jack and intrigued McGill..

The song is performed by the magnificent Ma-Anne Dionisio, one of the most emotionally resonant musical theatre stars. Her distinct and beautiful voice is among the best of her generation. She made her professional stage debut at 18 as the star of Miss Saigon in the Canadian premiere production. She has gone on to tour around the world and star on both Broadway and on London’s West End.  Last year she won the Outstanding Performance Dora Award for the lead role in Next to Normal.  

Link to story, podcast, video: