Producer, theatre impressario, and businessman, born in Colonial Beach, Virginia in 1914, the son of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania; died July 11, 2007 in Toronto Ontario. He came to Canada in 1923, and after struggling through several unsuccessful businesses, became well known as Honest Ed, of discount department store and restaurant fame. He was chairman and owner of the Royal Alexandra Theatre, which he purchased, refurbished, and saved from demolition in 1962. Ed and his son David Mirvish presented many notable productions at the Royal Alex, including the Mikado, which originated at the Stratford Festival (directed by Brian MacDonald), that went on to to Broadway, and was nominated for a Tony.
He bought and refurbished London's prestigious Old Vic in 1982, and after several financially challenging, but critically applauded seasons, sold it again in 1993.
In 1993, he and his son built the Princess of Wales Theatre for the production of large-scale musical theatre, and Canadian productions of Broadway hits, such as Miss Saigon, Rent, The Lion King , and the London sensation, Mamma Mia!. For good or ill, Ed Mirvish was seen as initiator of the return of foreign-originated and big-budget theatre to the Toronto.
However, he also collaborated with smaller Toronto "alternative" theatres. In the 2000/2001 season the Mirvishes co-produced Theatre Passe Muraille's production of Michael Healey's The Drawer Boy; the Fringe Movement hit The Drowsy Chaperone (by Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison, Don McKellar and Bob Martin); and the Soulpepper Theatre Company production of A Flea in Her Ear. In 2000 the Mirvishes won seven Dora Mavor Moore Awards and took four more in 2001.
Edwin Mirvish was an Officer of the Order of Canada, amongst his many other awards.
Profile by Gaetan Charlebois and Anne Nothof. Additional information provided by Lindy Cooksey.
Last updated 2010-12-14