Actors in ancient Greece were respected and celebrated artists. In Rome, however, acting was the work of slaves. This may be why, from the Middle Ages through the 20th century, many have regarded acting as a slightly disreputable occupation.
Mirvish Productions is a Canadian theatre management and production company, based in Toronto, founded by David Mirvish in 1987.
David's father, Ed Mirvish, had made headlines in 1963 when he purchased and saved from demolition Toronto's historic Royal Alexandra Theatre, one of the oldest and most famous legitimate theatres in North America. For the next 24 years, Ed Mirvish operated the Royal Alexandra - as it had been operated for most of its history - primarily as a "road house", staging short-run touring productions from London and New York and renting the space to local theatre groups, the Canadian Opera Co. and the National Ballet. In 1987, David Mirvish assumed the responsibility for the family's theatrical interests and created Mirvish Productions for the purpose of producing original plays and musicals, employing Canadian talent, for the Royal Alexandra's stage, as well as co-producing with such regional Canadian theatres as the Stratford Festival, the Shaw Festival, the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Citadel Theatre and bringing their works to Toronto.
Among the notable early Mirvish-produced and co-produced shows seen at the Royal Alexandra were Brian Macdonald's acclaimed staging of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore; the world tour of the English Shakespeare Company's Henry IV and Henry V; Sweet Bird of Youth, with Joanne Woodward; Spoils of War, with Kate Nelligan (in her first Canadian stage appearance); Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, the first native Canadian play to receive a major commercial production in Canada; the world premiere musical Jane Eyre, which subsequently moved to Broadway; and the wildly popular Toronto production and national tours of Les Misérables.
In 1991, in response to increased ticket demand, Mirvish Productions established a subsidiary company, TicketKing, to act as a ticketing agent and provide a telephone sales service to complement the theatre ticket window. TicketKing has subsequently evolved into an online sales service, providing an internet box office not only to Mirvish Productions, but to many smaller Toronto theatre companies, as well.
In 1993, Mirvish Productions took over responsibility for a second Toronto theatre when Ed and David Mirvish built the Princess of Wales, a luxurious 2000-seat venue two blocks to the west of the Royal Alexandra (and the first privately financed legitimate theatre to be built in North America in more than 30 years). The Princess of Wales opened in 1993 with the box office record-breaking Mirvish co-production (in partnership with London producer Cameron Mackintosh) of the musical Miss Saigon. The two theatres formed the centre around which Toronto's "Entertainment District" has since grown.
The Mirvish theatre family doubled in size in 2008 when the company purchased two Yonge Street venues, the 2300-seat Canon Theatre - now the Ed Mirvish Theatre, which was renamed in honour of one of Toronto’s most beloved city boosters and the intimate, new, 700-seat Panasonic Theatre.
Mirvish Productions is, today, Canada's largest commercial theatre production company. Its offices are located at 284 King St. West - beside the Princess of Wales Theatre - in Toronto.