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Mark Stedman/
toy show the musical

Dáil public spending watchdog seeks answers from RTÉ over Toy Show: The Musical budget

The Public Accounts Committee is looking to ask questions about the business case for the production.

THE DAIL’S SPENDING watchdog has asked RTÉ to clarify how much money it has spent on Toy Show: The Musical.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has written to RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes requesting that the state broadcaster answer questions about the cost of the production, which has been plagued by poor ticket sales and several cancelled performances due to illness in the cast and crew.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland todyt, PAC Chair Brian Stanley said the committee was looking to find out “what the business case [of the show] is, the cost of the venue hire, the cost of casting, the advertising, etc.”

The 30-show run is being staged in Dublin’s Convention Centre, which has 2,000 seats.

RTÉ has defended the production, with director of strategy Rory Coveney saying yesterday he was disappointed with ticket sales for the show, but that he hopes it will be a long-term investment.

Additionally, Forbes wrote in an op-ed for the Irish Independent that the production provided opportunities for people in Ireland’s arts sector and insisted the production was not distracting from RTÉ’s other work in radio and television.

Stanley conceded that “commercial activity is, by its nature, risky,” but he said PAC was skeptical of the market research done for the production, such as whether it was entering a “crowded market.”

“We are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis – are people cutting back on attending shows coming into Christmas?

“They’re questions that need to be examined.”

Stanley said RTÉ’s finances in recent years have not been “overly healthy”.

PAC will be looking for a response from RTÉ in January.

“The risks on this occasion would seem to be too high,” Stanley concluded.

Seven shows have been cancelled due to illness in the cast and crew. RTÉ previously confirmed that one scheduled day of shows was to be replaced with a rehearsal day.

The Independent reported last week that just one of the musical’s 30 shows had sold out prior to opening night.

The production has also been criticised for having an unfair advantage over smaller pantomime shows, which were largely cancelled over the last two years due to the pandemic.

Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy is not involved in Toy Show: The Musical, which is the brainchild of Late Late Show producers Jane Murphy and Katherine Drohan.

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