RTÉ intends to bring back Toy Show the Musical, the stage spin-off of The Late Late Toy Show, with Montrose bosses exploring its options for a return after the “big learning curve” of its first run at the Convention Centre Dublin last month.
“We are now looking at how we might bring it back. We didn’t sell as many tickets as we wanted to sustain it [in 2022], but the plan is to bring the show back. The reaction from audiences that did attend was fantastic, particularly children. Engaging children in any content these days is difficult,” said Rory Coveney, strategic adviser to the director general at RTÉ.
“I think we’ve learned a lot from it. It was a big project for us, it is a new medium [for us]. It falls fully within our remit. We are perfectly entitled to put on ticketed events that are related to our broadcast properties.”
Mr Coveney told the Oireachtas media committee that RTÉ will “definitely need to rethink” the size and scope of the show as well as the production and is currently doing so.
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“There is something to be built on there. Exactly how it will [be] back, in what form and with whom, we don’t know yet. We are looking at that at the moment.”
Although no firm decisions have been made, RTÉ will examine the possibility of staging the musical in advance of The Late Late Toy Show, which is typically broadcast in late November or early December.
“It may well be suited to being slightly earlier, rather than during Christmas,” Mr Coveney said.
The musical is understood to have cost RTÉ about €2 million last year, although the broadcaster has not disclosed a figure, saying the show was a commercial venture. The run at the 2,000-seat convention centre venue between December 10th and December 31st did not sell out, while several shows were cancelled due to illness within the cast and crew.
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Alan Hughes, a Virgin Media presenter who produced his own pantomime in the National Stadium in Dublin before Christmas, last month accused RTÉ of having an unfair commercial advantage over other productions because of its ability to promote Toy Show the Musical on its own radio and television stations.
RTÉ director general Dee Forbes subsequently described “attempts by some to pit Toy Show the Musical against other productions” as being “at odds with the broad support we have received from the theatre world”.
Mr Coveney said the pricing of the musical was not positioned against pantomimes but largely against “the big international shows that come to Dublin” from London’s West End or New York’s Broadway. The project was “not decided on a whim” but was in gestation for three years before it made its debut, he added.
“As to how it comes back, when it comes back, if it comes back, all those decisions are being considered at the moment.”