Toronto is back to being a one-producer town now that Aubrey Dan has announced that his company Dancap Prods. is suspending operations.
Besides ending the subscription seasons with which he unsuccessfully tried to challenge long-established giant Mirvish Prods. for the past five years, he has withdrawn as lead producer on the upcoming Gotham tuner “Prince of Broadway,” a bio-revue inspired by the career of Hal Prince.
Scheduled for fall 2012 but without a firm opening date or theater in place, the production will continue to move forward, according to sources close to the show. There’s no word as to who would grab the producing reins or provide the capitalization.
Dan attributed his departure from the project to “the uncertainty of obtaining the right theater and the difficulty of raising funds in a limited window.”
Hurting his Toronto operation were the lack of a major downtown home and the fact that Mirvish Prods., with numerous permanent venues and a subscriber base of 40,000, is better positioned to seize major projects.
The only big-name title that Dan succeeded in landing was “Jersey Boys,” which ran for two years in Toronto but reportedly was not wildly profitable.
Dancap’s future was likely sealed in 2008, when Key Brand Entertainment sold the Panasonic and Canon Theaters to Mirvish, placing that company in control of virtually all the desirable venues in Toronto. Dan was therefore limited to short-term runs downtown or to full-time use of the Toronto Center for the Arts, nearly 10 miles north of the downtown core.
A clear indicator of how the tide was turning for Dancap was a heavy reliance for his final shows on non-Equity tours, whereas Mirvish is either creating its own productions (as with the Toronto company of “War Horse”) or bringing in first-class tours (“Mary Poppins”).
Dan was the first producer to attempt to launch a major Toronto theater initiative since Garth Drabinsky’s Livent declared bankruptcy in 1998.