David's father, Ed Mirvish, had made headlines in 1963 when he purchased and saved from demolition Toronto's historic Royal Alexandra Theatre, one of the oldest and most famous legitimate theatres in North America. For the next 24 years, Ed Mirvish operated the Royal Alexandra - as it had been operated for most of its history - primarily as a "road house", staging short-run touring productions from London and New York and renting the space to local theatre groups, the Canadian Opera Co.
And the National Ballet. In 1987, David Mirvish assumed the responsibility for the family's theatrical interests and created Mirvish Productions for the purpose of producing original plays and musicals, employing Canadian talent, for the Royal Alexandra's stage, as well as co-producing with such regional Canadian theatres as the Stratford Festival, the Shaw Festival, the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Citadel Theatre and bringing their works to Toronto.
Among the notable early Mirvish-produced and co-produced shows seen at the Royal Alexandra were Brian Macdonald's acclaimed staging of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore; the world tour of the English Shakespeare Company's Henry IV and Henry V; Sweet Bird of Youth, with Joanne Woodward; Spoils of War, with Kate Nelligan (in her first Canadian stage appearance).
Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, the first native Canadian play to receive a major commercial production in Canada; the world premiere musical Jane Eyre, which subsequently moved to Broadway; and the wildly popular Toronto production and national tours of Les Misérables.