In a move that will likely ripple through Toronto's theatre community, impresario David Mirvish has announced what he is dubbing Off-Mirvish – a second subscription season of, initially, four plays, starting in November.
The first season includes four plays – Terminus (Nov. 21 to Dec. 9), which was a hit show at this year's SummerWorks Festival; Clybourne Park ( Feb. 12 to Mar. 3), a revival of a Studio 180 production of Bruce Norris' Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy, mounted earlier this year at Canstage; Without You ( Dec. 13 to Jan. 6) , a one-man show created by former Rent star Anthony Rapp; and Mary Walsh's Dancing with Rage ( Mar. 5 to 24), a solo show featuring fictional warrior princess Marg Delahunty.
Mirvish, the country's dominant commercial presenter of live theatre, boasts some 40,000 subscribers for its 2012 to 2013 season of six musicals.
But at the marginal risk of cannibalizing some of the audience, he said, he thinks there's a strong appetite for smaller dramas that he can use to help fill some of his theatres and provide more work for Canadian talent.
With the exception of Terminus, by Irish playwright Mark O'Rowe, all the shows in the first Off-Mirvish season will be mounted in the 700-seat Panasonic Theatre.
Terminus will open in an unconventionally configured Royal Alexandra Theatre in mid-November. A limited audience of 200 will sit on the stage facing an otherwise empty auditorium, with actors performing near the stage apron. For the Mirvish organization, the initiative provides an opportunity to present edgier, more contemporary material that might otherwise offend segments of its mainstream audience if included in the traditional subscription package.
The four-show package is being sold at two prices – $99 or $199 – depending on seat location.
Conceivably, shows that do well in Toronto could be toured to other cities in Canada, Mirvish said.