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Two Toronto theater producers partner

Mirvish, Brambilla to share resources

David Mirvish, the largest commercial producer in Canada, and Dan Brambilla, the largest not-for-profit presenter in the country, have hatched a plan whereby they will share resources, mailing lists and publicity in the hope that they’ll eventually share audiences as well.

Mirvish owns and operates the Royal Alexandra, Princess of Wales, Canon and Panasonic Theaters, with current tenants including commercial tuners “Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” “Rock of Ages” and “Wicked.” He runs a successful subscription series with more than 37,000 subscribers but also allows some of his shows to have open-ended runs.

Brambilla, on the other hand, is the man behind the Sony Center for the Performing Arts, a 3,200-seat venue that recently reopened after a two-year shuttering for refurbishment and is now devoted to a wide variety of programming, largely aimed at Toronto’s varied ethnic communities.

Mirvish, with no show running less than six weeks and many remaining a year or more, is able to make robust use of his advertising dollars to attract attention.

Brambilla, in his own words, presents “100 different shows a year, some of them only for a night or two. It’s a very difficult market, and we don’t have the money to compete with commercial producers for the advertising dollar.”

With one producer (Mirvish) governed by the need to make a profit and playing by the rules of subscription, while the other (Brambilla) faces nothing but single-ticket buyers in the nonprofit sector, it might seem they had little to offer each other, but Mirvish thought otherwise.

“(Brambilla) wanted to reach out to the various ethnic communities in this city with his programming, and I thought many of my subscribers would be interested in those shows as well, only they might not have found out about them on their own,” Mirvish said. “He’s bringing in the Kirov Ballet later this season. Wouldn’t that be just the kind of thing a lot of my patrons would want to see?”

“Likewise with our people,” Brambilla added. “We can play to each other’s audiences. I’m always marketing to a different culture each week. That’s my brand. But who says that an audience that went to (Sony Center show) ‘The Merchants of Bollywood’ wouldn’t get a kick out of ‘Priscilla’?”

Future plans include both organizations piggy-backing on each other’s advertising and promotional materials, while Mirvish is also prepared to program up to 10 weeks a year in Brambilla’s venue for giant spectacles, beyond the reach of his normal venues.

Collaboration is expected to begin immediately.

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