Dancap Productions as we know it is no longer, and Aubrey Dan, the man who went up against the Mirvishes as the city's only other commercial theatre producer, has decided to hang up his signature fedora. At least for now.
"With a heavy heart, I am announcing that Dancap Productions will not be presenting a 2013 subscription season," wrote Dan in a statement. "Looking toward the near-future, I do not see enough quality shows that I would like to bring to Toronto in 2013."
After its current season, which includes touring productions of West Side Story, Beauty And The Beast and a four-city Canadian tour of Jersey Boys, there won't be any new Dancap shows.
After that, writes Dan, "I will be stepping back and re-evaluating our involvement in the theatre business."
Ironically, it was the jukebox musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons that first put the company on the theatrical map back in 2007.
Jersey Boys ran for two years at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Cast members for that production included future stars Jeremy Kushnier (currently on Broadway in Jesus Christ Superstar) and Andrew Rannells, who went on to fame in monster hit The Book Of Mormon.
Another important Dancap move was bringing some shows downtown to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in the summer, a time when the theatre wasn't being used by the resident Canadian Opera Company or National Ballet of Canada. The touring production of Lincoln Center's SouthPacific revival was a highlight.
But many shows did poorly. It wasn't uncommon to see lots of empty seats at a Dancap show. Things weren't helped by the fact that runs were often short, resulting in little time for word of mouth to spread and encourage solid single ticket sales.
Worse, Dancap didn't own a theatre, having to rent space. It never established an identity with a particular venue - except perhaps the North York Centre. But even then, jaded downtowners would often complain of having to make the trek up to see shows.
The heyday of the mega-musical is long gone, and you have to admit that Dancap's taste level was, well, questionable. Last season, for instance, the company programmed the bold Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next To Normal, about a family dealing with mental illness, along with the lightweight Donny & Marie Live.
And recently, Dancap presented non-Equity touring productions of In The Heights and Shrek, hiring non-union actors and charging up to $165 for some tickets. The Heights production raised the ire of Canadian Actors' Equity, who asked Toronto critics not to review the show.
Last fall, Dancap announced it would be presenting a pre-Broadway production of the new musical Prince Of Broadway, about the legendary director and producer Hal Prince. Maybe the writing about its demise was on the wall when they said earlier this year that the Toronto leg was cancelled.
In his statement, Dan also revealed he would be pulling out as the lead producer of Prince Of Broadway, which is still scheduled to go up on Broadway in November 2012.
Personally, I'll miss seeing Dancap shows, even if the productions often lacked the lustre of their Broadway originals. And I'll even miss seeing the slightly nebbishy Dan with his producer's hat on. He clearly loved being an impresario and always had a smile on his face, beaming on opening night and sometimes shaking your hand as you left the theatre.