Toronto is the third largest city for theatre productions after Londons West End and New Yorks Broadway. We went to see Hairspray which is currently showing at the Princess of Wales Theatre. We paid $140CAD for two seats but they were such great seats. The show is fantastic, great sixties style songs and the guy who plays Tracy Turnblads mom (Jay Brazeau) is hysterical. Highly recommended.
Dress Code: We dressed pretty casual.
The Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts has gone through a few name changes. Initially it was the Ford Centre, and "Showboat" was the first musical that opened there, with extensive controversy. Garth Drubinsky (spelling?) was the theatre man and when his empire fell apart, so did the theatre. It was taken over by the the city of North York, and became the North York Centre for the Performing Arts. With the creation of "mega-Toronto", the theatre became "The Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts". Changes have happened around it too, as there had been a huge parking lot to the south of the theatre. That is now the home of several apartment buildings and office towers.
Dress Code: You will see all means of dress at the theatre... only insistance is upon shoes and shirts!
Musicals are popular in Toronto. As I was staying in the entertainment district, I saw plenty of advertisements for performances of various kinds on the streets around. My friend and I chose to watch The Sound of Music. Student tickets (student ID required) were available for 25 CAD, 2 hours before performance time.
Whoa! If you are in your fifty's and remember the disco era you will love this show. "Mama Mia" is a compilation of ABBA's songbook and set into a story lline. The plot is thin but believeable. The neat part is when the cast just all of a sudden breaks out into one of ABBA's stirring disco tunes, then goes on with the story. I spent the whole time smiling. It's just great fun.
The Princess Alexandria Theatre is one of the oldest in Toronto, but quite suitable for this performance. Previously we had seen "Les Miserable" with Colm Wilkerson at this venue. The sound is good. The seats a bit old and cramped but not that bad. The lobby is small but there is a bar upstairs for early arrivals. One thing they do to avoid the intermission rush to sell you tickets for your intermission libation ahead of time. Then at intermission you needn't bother with paying and making change.
I don't know how long this play will be running here, but any chance you get to see it, do it. It's a kick..
Dress Code: Anything from jeans, shorts to evening gowns. Up to you.
The Princess of Wales Theatre is fairly new. My understanding is that is was built or refurbished for the play "MIss Saigon". At any rate it was dedicated by Diana Princess of Wales herself.
The decor is modern and roomy. Seats are comfortable and the aisles are wide. The sound is good and the selections of plays here are top rate.
Hairspray is a fairly new revival and has a pretty good cast. The music is mid 70's and the theme is small town girl wants to make it big.
I suggest you buy your tickets ahead of time. That can be done online or by phone.
Rumor has it that theatre in Toronto has taken a step backwards lately with the finanacial demise of certain producers. So this theatre and the next door Princess Alexandria Theatre are the best bets at the moment.
Dress Code: Eclectic. Jeans to sparkling evening gowns. Up to you.
During Luminato, Roy Thomson Hall is one of the main venues. I saw Not the Messiah, a show based upon Monty Python's Life of Brian. Eric Idle starred; it's worth seeing just for his Boby Dylan imitation. This theatre has something going on all the time.
In addition, the same company owns the famed Massey Hall. Jazz fans may remember that this was the scene of a legendary concert with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach.
Dress Code: Smart casual.
Roy Thompson Hall is one of Toronto's premiere concert halls and is often where performers who require good acoustics (i.e. not pop groups) will perform. It is also one of the more beautiful theatrical or musical performance centres in the city and is conveniently located in the theatre district near other performance centres and plenty of eateries. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra often performs here (I believe that there is a separate box office for that, although you can probably also buy tickets at the main box office for Roy Thompson Hall).
The building was constructed in the late 1970's-early 1980's and opened to the public in 1982, after more than 15 years of planning and fundraising challenges. It has since been visited by many celebrities, including Queen Elizabeth II.
Dress Code: There is no strict dress code, but you should dress according to the type of performance you are going to see. Operas are not performed here (there is a separate centre for that) but if you are coming to hear classical music or a great tenor it would be well-advised that you dress formally.
The Lord of the Rings theatre show in Toronto was my first ever attendance at a live theatre performance and it turned out to be a great show. I paid $117.00 for tickets in the center, toward the back on the main floor. It was row T31 at the Princes of Whales Theatre at 300 King Street.
It was hard to decide over the phone where to sit so I followed a recommendation but that far back you loose about 10% of the upper part of the show because the balconies cut off that part of the view. For an extra $10 or $20 dollars get yourself right up front. I looked around a bit after and the front row from the balcony would be a cool angle to view the show from as well.
I hadn’t actually hadn’t seen the movie or read the book so it was cool to see it in this adopted format. I left with a ring of my own, it’s a gold ring crafted by a Toronto Artisan Shelly Purdy. It’s a hand made replica of the rings from the show and it reads, “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them”.
So the show; it obviously makes a good date as there seemed to be a mix of well dressed couples to Lord of the Rings junkies attending the show. It started at 7:30 p.m and went on to 11:00. It’s a long show but as you know so was the movie. After one hour there is a short break where you can leave and get a drink, stretch your legs and buy some stuff.
After hour two there is a 3 minute break just long enough for you to stretch your legs again. This is important, just to warn you; you will not be in a recliner when you at the Princess of Wales Theatre. The leg room is minimal.
Dress Code: On another note there is absolutely no cell phones or pictures. As you can see I managed to sneak a couple of poor pictures, but before I could get a good one I was tapped on the shoulder. I seen then signs then after during the first break. That is a little disappointing but people obviously take their theatre much more seriously than I.
The quality of the performance was amazing. Keep in mind this was my first so I have nothing to compare it too but the cast got plenty of ovations and a standing one at the end. The special effects and the stage itself were definitely on the high end.
I would probably go see this show again if I was with someone but after this show I am certainly going to make an effort to start taking in more shows.
The Princess of Wales Theatre is a new, 2000-seat playhouse built by the father and son producing team of David and Ed Mirvish, who also own and operate Toronto's historic Royal Alexandra Theatre. The Princess of Wales is the first privately owned and financed theatre built in Canada since 1907 - and the first anywhere in North America in over 30 years. Construction began on August 6, 1991, and the building opened to the public with the musical Miss Saigon on May 26, 1993.
The theatre was built with maximum flexibility in mind. Its stage is one of the widest and deepest in North America - large enough to accommodate the most spectacular theatrical productions - and its technical facilities are state-of-the-art. Source: www.mirvish.com
I can personally attest to the stage because it accomodated the Lord of the Rings show amazingly.
the point of this tip was to provide the seating map. I sat in row T31. I would recommend you spend just a few more dollars and get either A to K on the main level or A to B on either of the other two levels.
You probably need to book early to get those good seats.
Enjoy this theatre! The Lord of the Rings is awesome.
Be prepared for a long show and the seats are pretty close together so it takes some discipline!
CANSTAGE is Canada's largest non-profit stage company, & is definitely one of the most successful in nurturing Canadian stage talent and exporting them throughout the world. In addition to Canadian works, CanStage produces many internationally acclaimed works.
DREAM AT HIGH PARK (RECOMMENDED DONATION OF $15)
As opposed to one spot, Toronto has various theatres that stage worldclass entertainment. From The Princess of Wales, which housed hit musicals such as Miss Saigon, and Beauty and the Beast to Royal Alexandra Theatre to the Canon Theatre (formerly known as Pantages Theatre)... Toronto is fondly known as the third largest live theatre capital in the English-Speaking world. Second to the likes of Broadway in New York and the West End in London, Toronto has been the starting place of many musicals, like the North American Premier of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat with Donny Osmond, Ragtime, the Showboat revival, and the world premier of Kiss of the Spider Woman.
You can often get discounted tickets at TO Tix located at the Eaton Centre, but for popular shows like Mama Mia and the Lion King, phoning in advance and booking tickets is highly recommended.
Dress Code: Sunday and Wednesday Matinees are usually less formal to casual, however evening shows especially on the weekend call for more formal dress.
Toronto is not nearly as well known for general theatre as it is for musical theatre. Thanks to the Mirvish family, Toronto's theatre district (King west of University, as well as a few theatre on Yonge near the Eaton Centre) is a beacon for those who LOVE musical theatre. The Royal Alexandra is certainly the heart of this phenomenon, with some of the biggest names in the business performing here. It's a good idea to check ahead with the theatre as to which shows are playing, but it is unlikely that, if you come for a matinee or for a show that has been on for several months, it will be difficult to buy tickets. Nevertheless, surprises of the "sold out" variety are never fun, so going to the theatre's website is always advisable.
The theatre itself was designed by John MacIntosh Lyle and built in 1907. It was purchased by Ed Mirvish in 1963. It can seat 1500, so sold out shows are nearly impossible for anything other than opening galas and the like.
Dress Code: Be sensible - even in the summer, long pants or a skirt are recommended, as there will be pretty powerful air conditioning in the thetre. This isn't the opera or the philharmonic, though, so you shouldn't feel like you need to put on a tux or evening gown.
Massey Hall and Roy Thompson Hall are part of the same corporation, but the two venues put on different types of performances, with Roy Thompson Hall catering to more upscale and classic performers (like the TSO). Massey Hall, however, is the more historic of the two concert halls. It was constructed in the early 1890s and inaugurated in 1894 as a memorial for Charles Albert Massey. The architect was Sidney Badgeley. This was the original home of classic and orchestral museum, although newer venues with more modern and better acoustics have since usurped its title. It still occasionally hosts classical shows, but is used more as a place for modern music and for speaking engagements (the Dalai Lama spoke here). It is also conveniently located steps from the Eaton Centre and the shops and restaurants of Yonge Street.
Dress Code: Dress according to the performance. If you're going to hear a folk musician, don't show up in a tux. Vice versa for classical performances.
The Elgin & Winter Garden Theatres were constructed in 1913 and are apparently one of the last surviving Edwardian stacked theatres in the world. The Winter Garden was so named because it was originally decorated as a forest, while the lower theatre, now the Elgin, was originally called Loew's Theatre and put on Vaudeville productions. From the 1930s to the 1970s, the theatre fell into disuse, often shuttered but sometimes showing B-list movies, until the 1980s when it was acquired by the Ontario government and restored. It now alternates between musical productions (like Cats) and films for the Toronto International Film Festival.
Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office or through Ticket Master (www.ticketmaster.ca).
Dress Code: Like most places in Toronto, the performance you're going to see should be the best indicator of dress code. Casual clothing is probably your best bet for the Elgin, however, as there are few (if any) classical or traditional performances here.
Visit the IMAX 3-D Theatre. It is build on top of the local Chapters bookstore.
There is a second IMAX theatre, the Cinesphere IMAX Theatre.