Last week Dancap Productions, which brought to Toronto Broadway hits such as Jersey Boys, announced that it would not present any programming for the 2013 season. This suspension of operations marks the end of an era (albeit a relatively short one), where two large theatre companies, Dancap and juggernaut Mirvish Productions, introduced audiences to big-time mainstream musicals and stage dramas. But don’t fret; though the scene just got a little smaller, there are still many exciting opportunities across the city for resident and visiting theatre enthusiasts alike.
Mirvish is once again undisputed as Toronto’s most powerful producer; while they say that competition is always healthy, one can’t help but appreciate the sterling effort the company puts forth in bringing the hottest shows to this city. War Horse, currently on stage at the Princess of Wales theatre, has been roundly acclaimed and continues to draw large audiences thanks to its thrilling story, extravagant sets, and masterfully rendered pantomime horses. And that’s not the only top-drawer performance on Mirvish’s schedule. Bring It On: The Musical is also on now, while Rent, Flashdance, Sister Act and more are set grace various Mirvish-owned stages throughout 2012 and 2013.
There’s also much to choose from for those who prefer subtlety to spectacle. Toronto is home to myriad small- and mid-size theatre groups whose love for the craft translates to exceptional performances on stage. Soulpepper Theatre Company remains the city’s best bet for new versions of the classics—Home, You Can’t Take It With You, and the contemporary Canadian piece Kim’s Convenience are all receiving audiences right now at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Not too far down the road, the Canadian Stage Company offers compelling modern-day drama at the St. Lawrence Centre. Its season just wrapped up, but watch for plays by the likes of David Mamet, Max Frisch and others starting in the fall.
Similarly, Toronto’s indie scene is still thriving thanks to edgy, all-Canadian productions from Factory Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille and others, plus important upcoming summer events including the Toronto Fringe Festival (July 4 to 15) and Summerworks Theatre Festival (August 9 to 19).
But the story for now is the winding down of Dancap Productions. It’s a shame that once Jersey Boys concludes it’s current cross-country tour, Dancap will be a thing of the past. We may hold out hope that company founder Aubrey Dan will find a way to reprise his role as Toronto theatre impresario in the future. Until then, audiences in this city can enjoy one last hurrah; the Dancap-sponsored staging of West Side Story is on now through to June 3.