SHOW STOPPER: THE THEATRICAL LIFE OF GARTH DRABINSKY written and directed by Barry Avrich. An eOne release. 99 minutes. Opens Friday (September 21) at the Varsity. See Times. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Barry Avrich's documentary about the rise and fall of producer Garth Drabinsky makes fascinating viewing for those in the entertainment biz. But even people who've never picked up a Variety will have seen a movie in a Cineplex theatre (a company he helped found) or one of his megamusical successes like Phantom Of The Opera.
Born in Toronto and struck with polio in childhood, Drabinsky grew up determined to make a mark, first producing movies, then establishing Cineplex and finally creating Livent, which helped build musicals like the Showboat revival and Ragtime.
The story's an inspiring one about ambition and hubris - his autobiography was subtitled Closer To The Sun - studded with interviews with stars, tycoons and journalists covering all periods of his career.
Alas, there's a lot of accounting talk, especially leading up to his conviction in 2009 of fraud and forgery. And unfortunately there's no present-day interview to give us a glimpse of Drabinsky's life in prison.
We get a good overview of his professional accomplishments, but we never get a sense of the man.