The Royal Alexandra Theatre is Toronto’s senior theatre and a historic building of note. On its 80th birthday (1987), it was made a National Historic Monument. Inside it maintains the style and appearance of a 19th century theatre. It is said to be the oldest continuously operating legitimate theatre in North America. The Royal Alexandra is North America’s only truly “royal” theatre. It received its name by special permission from Edward VII. His Queen was Alexandra, a Danish princess.
Cawthra Mulock, a foundry operator, was its builder and first owner. He wished make Toronto, his home town, a cultural centre by building “the finest theatre on the continent.” With imported marble, hand-carved cherry and walnut, silks, velvets, crystal chandeliers and ornate plaster he created “an Edwardian jewel-box,” a masterpiece of beaux-arts architecture. This was the city’s first steel-framed building, which allowed cantilevered balconies, without internal pillars to block the view,
Since it opened in 1907, over 3000 productions have played here. The stars whose names have graced its billboards are legends. Edwin Mirvish, “Honest Ed,” purchased the Royal Alexandra from the Mulock estate in 1962 and made extensive renovations to restore it to the splendour of its early days.
The Princess of Wales Theatre
The Princess of Wales Theatre is a new, 2000-seat playhouse built by the Mirvishes. It is the first privately owned and financed theatre built in Canada since 1907, when its sister theatre, the historic Royal Alexandra Theatre was constructed. Construction began on August 6, 1991, and the building opened to the public with the musical “Miss Saigon” on May 26, 1993. It was designed to accommodate spectacular theatrical productions. The Princess of Wales was created to illustrate strengths of both traditional and contemporary design.
The Princess of Wales Theatre from Metro Hall
For more about the Mervish Theatres go to www.onstagenow.com/OurTheatres/.