Blocks of cardboard and sheets of brown paper plastered the Canon Theatre’s facade this morning as dignitaries, actors, singers, members of the media and theatre fans all converged on the hall for a surprise announcement from producer David Mirvish. While the theatre’s exterior had an “under construction” vibe, the lobby, mezzanine, and boxes retained the venue’s elegant art deco opulence.
The audience was treated to a performance from Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, the artists behind the comedy Two Pianos Four Hands, before Mirvish took to the podium for the announcement that explained all that brown paper—as of today the venue shall be known as the Ed Mirvish Theatre.
Ed Mirvish, father to David, made his name in Toronto as a businessman and theatre impresario before his death in 2007. He opened the city’s most famous discount store, Honest Ed’s, in 1948 and went on to buy and refurbish the Royal Alexandra Theatre in 1962. The purchase of the Royal Alex marked his, and Toronto’s, presence in the world of theatre. (Mirvish Productions also operates the Princess of Wales and Panasonic theatres.)
A line of singers, actors and even politicians expressed their gratitude for the senior Mirvish’s patronage of the arts, and congratulated his family for establishing a landmark that will serves as an enduring tribute to his legacy.
Michael Burgess, Shirley Douglas and Molly Johnson showed their thanks through on-stage performances, while Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty addressed the crowd via video messages. The event concluded as Mayor Rob Ford unveiled the Ed Mirvish Theatre’s glowing new marquee—a fitting homage to the man who energized Toronto’s theatre scene.