Are you planning a trip to Toronto? It’s a beautiful city to visit in any season, for its architecture and its many parks. While developing ourToronto Civic Center Tourist Scavenger Hunt and our Old Toronto Tourist Scavenger Hunt, we discovered many beautiful Toronto theatres that you should see.
We’ve limited our list to the downtown core and harbourfront areas, where our scavenger hunts are located.
9 Toronto Theatres
- Ed Mirvish Theatre
- The Ed Mirvish Theatre is an opulent 2 balcony theatre where you can see musicals and plays on tour.
- Who was Ed Mirvish (1914-2007)? He was a Toronto businessman, born in Virginia (USA). He moved to Toronto with his parents when he was 9 years old. He was a great philanthropist and theatrical impresario for the city of Toronto. He also managed Honest Ed’s, a large discount store, before Wal-Mart arrived in this city.
- Massey Hall
- It is a music concert hall. It opened in 1894 and was, with the Eaton Auditorium, the only 2 places to listen to a classical music concert in Toronto before 1982. That’s when the owners of Massey Hall opened Roy Thomson Hall south of King Street (next to the Royal Alexandra theatre we just mentioned.
- This theater is named after Hart Massey who wanted a theater where you could enjoy a large non-religious choir. He did not want concert hall only for the rich, or that would be very large to maximize profits. He wanted a modest size place to attract music lovers of all social classes.
- Several prominent artists have appeared here over the years, including Glenn Gould, Bob Dylan, Joe Satriani, Neil Young, Cream, the Dalai Lama and Winston Churchill.
- Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Center
- The Elgin and Winter Garden Theater is a 2-balcony theater that features musicals, movie premieres and concerts. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) uses this place among its theaters every year.
- They are actually 2 theaters here, one above the other. This style of double theater is called the Edwardian style. It is the last such Edwardian theater to survive the world.
- The Elgin Theater is at street level while the Winter Garden Theater is 7 stories higher. Marcus Loew’s opened them in 1913 to present vaudeville shows, as well as silent films. In 1928, the Elgin was converted to accommodate sound for the new “talking” films. The Winter Garden closed for about 60 years.
- In 1969, Famous Players, a Canadian cinema chain, purchased the Elgin, and later sold it in 1981 to the Ontario Heritage Foundation. It introduced the musical Cats to Toronto here. After two years of complete renovations, the two theaters reopened in 1989.
- The interior design of the Winter Garden Theater gives the impression of being outdoors, in a forest. A 90-minute guided tour is available on Thursdays and Saturdays before performances.
- Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
- The Sony Center for the Performing Arts is the third name for this theater, the largest in Canada.
- It opened in 1960 as the O’Keefe Center. It changed its name in 1996 to the Hummingbird Center until 2007. Sony took over the rights in 2008 and undertook major renovations and reopened in 2010.
- The first play presented here was a “pre-Broadway” show titled Camelot starring Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, and Robert Goulet. Musicals, ballet productions, traditional theater, and popular bands are presented here.
- Lawrence Centre for the Arts
- Here is the St.Lawrence Center for the Arts. This theater opened in 1970 to commemorate Canada’s centennial (3 years late). There are 2 theaters in this center.
- Roy Thomson Hall
- Roy Thomson Hall is the home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. This concert hall originated in 1982. Its name comes from the donor who completed the construction, Roy Thomson, 1st Baron Thomson of Fleet, and founder of the Canadian publishing empire Thomson Corporation.
- Royal Alexandra Theatre
- The Royal Alexandra Theater, built in 1907 in the Beaux-Arts style, “Royal Alex” as the Torontonians call it, is the oldest theater in continuous operation in North America. Its interior is opulent. It features traditional theater plays and musicals, many of them from Broadway. It can seat 1497 people.
- Princess of Wales Theatre
- The Princess of Wales Theater is just east of the Royal Alexandra Theatre. It is another large theater. This one can welcome 2000 people. Her name honors Princess Diana (Lady Di). In fact, she had given her consent to the use of her name. It opened in 1993.
- Factory theatre
- This theatre on Bathurst at Adelaide presents new Canadian plays in a historic mansion.
We invite you to try our Toronto Civic Center Tourist Scavenger Hunt or Old Toronto Tourist Scavenger Hunt. They are 2-3 hours each, self-guided walking tours that you do with your smartphone (how it works). You’ll come across most of these theatres and much more. Moreover, you’ll enjoy solving the various challenges at each step of the way while learning the history of Toronto.
They each cost $35 for a group of up to 6 persons. There is an Explorer version of the Old Toronto scavenger hunt available for $45 – it’s longer and has more challenges.