TORONTO — After nearly 25 years of entertaining audiences with jousting and a meal with the king, Toronto's Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament will soon undergo a "sea change" with a new female-centric storyline.
The new show with the queen in the lead role is already in three U.S. cities and will launch in Toronto later this year. The company says the story is cast in a matriarchal realm with the queen in charge and sole ruler of the land.
"This is going to really motivate and inspire young women to show that there are strong female role models out there," Monet Lerner, the inaugural queen of the new show, says in a promo video.
Toronto hosts Canada's only location
Toronto is the only Canadian location for Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, which was founded in 1977 in Spain and launched in North America in 1983, with the Toronto "castle" opening in 1993.
For the past 34 years, the show has always featured a king as the protagonist and female characters in supporting roles.
"Having a queen in charge probably sends a message," Leigh Cordner, the creative director and writer of the show, says in the promo video.
This is going to really motivate and inspire young women to show that there are strong female role models out there.Monet Lerner, inaugural queen
"It's certainly a sea change for us. Just generally in entertainment and media and stuff, it's a popular theme. I don't feel like we're jumping on a bandwagon. I think it's certainly given us the confidence that now is the time to be able to do that."
The queen is "a firm but kind ruler respected throughout the kingdom who inherited the throne at the passing of her father, the previous king," says a news release.
Her "authority is sometimes challenged, but she quickly rises to the occasion as a strong leader, squelching opposition," it adds.
Already being performed in the U.S.
The show — which still features the usual elements of jousting and horsemanship — has already been rolled out in Dallas, Chicago and Lyndhurst, N.J.
The company says it made the change after guests expressed interest in seeing women in more significant roles.
Other changes include new music, new costumes and new suits of armour, shields and helmets.
"I think there's probably a benefit to young women, grown women, little girls who come to the show to see this women who's empowered, who's in charge," says Cordner.