Two days after Garth Drabinsky stepped down as CEO of Livent Inc. in favour of ex-Disneyite Michael Ovitz, the Toronto theatre community is somewhat reassured by Drabinsky's protestations that operations will remain north of the Great Divide.
"Toronto is still our home base and our laboratory for development," Livent's Marty Bell told The Toronto Star. "Toronto...has excellent facilities and we love the development relationships we're building with York University, the ballet and the opera company. If it ain't broke, why fix it?"
Canadian Equity's Executive Director, Susan Wallace, also told The Star that: "Yesterday we were worried, but now we're cautiously optimistic. Our obvious fear is that Livent will go south of the border, which would be a huge blow. But we've been assured the company won't be abandoning its Canadian roots and we have to take that at face value.
"We have to trust that Garth Drabinsky will have enough influence over his new partners to keep it viably Canadian."
Wallace also said that Livent "carries a weekly payroll of as much as $2 million to maintain some 350 actors, dancers, choreographers and stage managers and the Star estimates that Livent actually employs around 1,000 people at any given time when you take in various other facets such as construction, costuming and stage crews. Competing Toronto Producer David Mirvish put a brighter face on the upheaval, when he told The Star: "When investors stand up to put millions into that company, it's a great vote of confidence and the conclusion you can draw is that live theatre has grown to the point of being a major industry.
"The very nature of the business makes predictions difficult, but Toronto will not implode, in terms of theatrical activity. The audiences, the talent, the great technicians, the set-building operations and the advantage of the Canadian dollar. I can only feel positive about it."
By Mira Friedlander