A Guide to Theatres in Canada

After Canada celebrated its centennial in 1967, theatres across the country were built. These theaters ranged in terms of size, equipment and audience facilities.

The Movie Theatres industry depends heavily on household disposable income as well as the success of major film releases, while external competition from substitute products and services threatens its profitability.

Theatres in Canada

There’s nothing quite as magical as visiting your local cinema to catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster. While large movie theatre complexes have come to dominate this industry, something about an old rundown theater still feels nostalgic and right – whether its squeaky seats or smell of buttered popcorn; nostalgic movie theatres across Canada provide the ideal environment for an enjoyable cinematic experience.

Many major centres across Canada boast their own professional theatre company or regional theatre center, often with multiple stages and equipment of different sizes as well as audience facilities and rehearsal spaces. Most theatres can be found within municipal, provincial, or federal buildings but others may also be found within universities, colleges, schools or churches – from small improv comedy troupes that have emerged in Toronto to larger productions such as the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Television and film audiences have introduced many people to live theatre for the first time ever, prompting theatre companies to find ways to engage them. Many companies are seeking a balance between producing standard plays from classic European and American canons and featuring established Canadian playwrights while taking risks on contemporary subjects.

Canada boasts nearly every city and town with some form of theatre, often in community centres, schools or municipal buildings. Larger centers may host several regional or specialty theatre companies that may even be affiliated with university departments offering training to actors, designers and technical directors.

Montreal theatres include Monument-National (locally known as MAI), which presents intercultural arts in French and English in a historic building dating back to 1893; Segal Centre for Performing Arts (SCPA), an important venue for English and Quebec theater and home of National Theatre School of Canada; Theatre Outremont in Toronto and Centaur Theatre are major destinations, too, along with Sudbury Theatre Centre, Dr Penny Petrone Centre of Thunder Bay for performing Arts, Windsor Light Music Theatre of Windsor as well as Theatre Denise Pelletier (TCT), Maison Theatre and Usine C based out of Montreal.

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Movie Theatres

Many Canadian movie theatres are small, locally-owned and operated venues that provide an authentic movie-going experience. They serve as hubs in communities, drawing in family and friends for movie nights that they won’t soon forget! Many theatres also provide food and beverage service including popcorn and beverages to complement classic films enjoyed by people of all ages.

Movie buffs looking for an unforgettable cinematic experience should visit one of Canada’s historic drive-in theatres. These nostalgic venues have been welcoming families and friends together to watch films under the stars since 1952 – one such drive-in theatre, located north of Toronto is known as Stardust Drive-In Theatre; built then and still operating today it has hosted generations of Canadians from young children all the way up to elder adults, including movie icons Jim Carrey and John Candy!

Over the last five years, Canada’s movie theatre industry has experienced stagnant revenue growth, which can be attributed to various factors like external competition from substitute entertainment products and at-home digital streaming services. Industry performance also depends heavily on major film releases being successful or unsuccessful and how their marketing campaigns perform; plus economic expansion that encourages consumers to spend discretionary income on out-of-home entertainment options like movie tickets.

Canada’s movie theatres don’t only include traditional cinemas; independent and specialty theatres also provide audiences with a viewing experience that feels more intimate. Many such theatres are run by non-profit organizations or community groups and may also be owned and operated by local businesses or organizations like Rotary clubs, schools, church groups or Legion branches – usually providing smaller audiences with an enjoyable viewing experience than main cinemas do.

Independent and specialty theatres alike have been affected by the pandemic. While capacity restrictions were lifted over Thanksgiving weekend, many still struggle with limited resources and some public health officials still mandate masks during performances, which makes watching movies uncomfortable for moviegoers.

Musical Theatre

Musical theater in Canada is highly-prized, and there are various theaters across the country that host musicals based on movies or books that can be entertaining to people of all ages. If musical theatre interests you, consider enrolling at a university that offers programs in this field.

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The regional theatre movement of the 1960s and ’70s provided Canadian writers with venues where they could develop musicals with smaller production values than Broadway giants, yet still embrace innovation, intimacy, and cultural identity. Writers such as Paul Ledoux of Magnus Theatre and John Roby of Blyth Festival developed bodies of work centered on their respective regions such as Life on the Line (1983, Steven Bush and Allen Booth) or A Gift to Last (1986 Grahame Woods and Joey Miller) or Eighteen Wheels (1982 Tamahnous Theatre).

Toronto became a center for improvised comedy when Chicago’s famed Second City theatre company arrived in 1973, further cementing Toronto as an epicenter of improvisational comedy. Meanwhile, Quebecois society expressed itself through drama throughout this timeframe; Canadian playwrights then began using theatre to address universal issues through theatre productions.

Remountings of Broadway megamusicals starring Canadian casts became feasible during the late 1980s as Toronto, one of the largest English-speaking theatre markets worldwide, supported extended runs. For example, Toronto was host to productions like Les Miserables (1988), almost an exact copy of its New York staging; while Garth Draginsky’s Pantages Theatre launched Phantom of the Opera (1990).

The Stratford Festival of Music, Dance and Drama has long been recognized as Canada’s leading musical theatre producer. Each year’s productions, which often draw from beloved movies or novels, attract international audiences. Their success led to other Canadian companies that produce musicals like Toronto Musical Theatre Collective which strives to develop Canadian composers, librettists, lyricists and promote Canadian musical theatre productions.

Theatre Companies

Many large Canadian cities boast their own theatre companies that produce and tour shows. Toronto stands out as an example, hosting both megamusicals and alternative local productions with ease. A notable aspect of Toronto theatre life is its vibrant civic theatre scene: not-for-profit organisations which foster new talent while engaging the community at large. Notable examples are Mammalian Diving Reflex which creates works inspired by mythic inspiration; Modern Times Stage Company who have produced plays which span different civilizations; Nightwood Theatre who have been producing original work for 25 years; Nightwood Theatre have also produced original work over this period of time.

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The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto boasts an extensive collection of Canadian theatre history, from posters and programmes from both commercial and civic venues to books on this topic and hundreds of archival boxes and folders holding programs, promotional flyers, reviews and photographs from both.

Montreal boasts some of the largest theaters in Canada, boasting an abundance of performance arts venues. Montreal is known for its lively culture of all forms of performance art, with numerous theaters like Monument-National located within its Place des Arts complex. Offering dance, music and various plays year round – including dance stars from American theatre productions as well as Edith Piaf – year after year since 1893! This landmark venue also hosts French and English performances alike!

Citadel Theatre stands as another significant venue in downtown Montreal. From its inception, Citadel aimed to become an internationally recognized theatre by staging productions that could go onto Broadway or London’s West End; some such as A Life were successful; however other efforts, like Duddy were less fruitful.

Multiple theatre companies specialize in serving specific communities, like Manitoba Theatre for Young People which has been creating original shows for children since 1988. This season begins with an engaging adaptation of Jabber (October 15 to 23; teens) and ends with Kaput (December 8 to March 26; for kids two to seven). Also included this season: Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach as well as musical puppetry show inspired by TV show Spot (November 6 to March 26; kids aged two to seven).

Other theatre companies in Canada specialize in cultural and linguistic diversity. Black Theatre Canada was an Afro-Caribbean and black theatre group from Toronto that operated from 1973 until its disbandment in 1988, while Anandam Performance Group uses masks and puppetry to tell intercultural tales through theatrical performance.