Here’s a fun party fact for ya: Toronto’s Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre is the last functioning Edwardian-stacked theatre in the entire world! No, that doesn’t mean it’s a theatre with double-deck viewing platforms. It’s two entirely separate theatres stacked on top of each other! Here are some more fun facts about this National Historic Site.
ELGIN AND WINTER GARDEN THEATRE
So, double-decker theatres are pretty much exactly what they sound like. There are two theatres constructed on top of each other in the same building, which is going to make more sense once you see pictures. We know imagining it is kinda hard. Think of Jenga but performance spaces.
Built in 1913, the Winter Garden Theatre was constructed seven storeys above the Elgin Theatre but in the same complex on Toronto’s famous Yonge Street.
Originally, they were intended for vaudeville acts. The peasants would watch shows in the lower section, and high society would watch performances in the nicer, higher-up section. Nothing to remind you that you’re at the bottom of society like literally being under all the rich people, right?
Over the decades, the Winter Garden went out of style and closed operations, while the Elgin Theatre carried on as a movie house. That was until the Ontario Heritage Trust bought the building, did quite the renovations, and the entire place became a National Historic Site in 1982.
Another fun fact for ya: four episodes of Late Night with Conan O’Brien have been taped here. Anotha one: it was featured in Academy Award Best Picture-winner The Shape of Water and gets a shoutout in the closing credits.
Now, the theatre plays host to the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as musicals and Broadway shows. Last fun fact: when Cats came to town in the ’80s, it was the play that proved the theatre had an economically viable future. Meow!
You can also take a tour of the space to appreciate how easy on the eyes it is. The top level is decorated by a fairy wonderland, the bottom like a more traditional theatre. Real beaut! Nothing like a little Toronto appreciation, hey?
Where: 189 Yonge St