RTÉ scraps set of Toy Show the Musical

Stage show set had been in storage at stated cost of €8,000 a year but disposal and recycling is now ‘underway’

Toy Show The Musical. Photograph: Ste Murray

The set for Toy Show the Musical is to be scrapped, RTÉ said yesterday, as the broadcaster’s management and its board continued to deal with the fallout from an auditors’ report into the multimillion euro stage show flop.

“RTÉ is in the process of disposing the set for Toy Show the Musical. Disposal involves the recycling of elements suited to same, and the disposal of elements that cannot be recycled,” a spokesman said.

This process is “under way”, he added.

Former RTÉ director of strategy Rory Coveney told the Oireachtas media committee last summer that the storage of the set remained a residual cost of the December 2022 production. He said this cost was “€8,000 per year until we decide what we are doing with it”.


RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst confirmed later in July 2023 that RTÉ would not attempt to bring the musical back for a second year and also indicated that it could try to sell the set.

However, it will now be scrapped.

The revolving set — designed by theatre designer Colin Richmond — featured a miniature streetscape interspersed with life-sized sofas and a moon that hangs over an “ordinary Irish town” as it prepares to watch the Late Late Toy Show.

A time-lapse video of its construction at Convention Centre Dublin, the venue for the production, was posted by RTÉ on YouTube ahead of Toy Show the Musical’s opening night.

RTÉ spent more than €2.7 million on the development and production of the musical, but it was a financial failure, resulting in a loss of €2.27 million.

The public service broadcaster wanted the musical to “serve a total audience of 107,730″ people, but it went on to sell just 11,044 tickets for a lower number of shows than originally proposed, while some seven performances were cancelled mid-run after illness spread through its young cast.

An independent report commissioned by the RTÉ board’s audit and risk committee from the firm Grant Thornton discovered “additional costs” of almost €70,000 related to the show that had not been previously identified.

The report, published on Thursday, notes that the minutes of a March 2022 meeting of the former executive team at RTÉ described the project as “a very big brand piece for RTÉ and very exciting”.

However, although board approval for the expenditure involved was required under the organisation’s own corporate governance rules, the minutes of RTÉ board meetings show no such approval for the musical was ever sought or given.

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Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics