It is over one-hundred years old and still going strong. The Royal Alexandra Theatre at 260 King Street West in Toronto was named after Danish Princess Alexandra, the great grandmother of Queen Elizabeth.
Literally thousands of productions have been staged here over the years and today it is an historical monument. The Royal Alex, as it is fondly called, was developed by an ambitious young business man named Cawthra Mulock; however, in the 60’s it was taken over by the well known Mirvish Family.
The late, Edwin Mirvish was a big fan of the theatre. His son, David now runs Mirvish Productions, a theatre production and management company that includes ownership of the Canon Theatre and the sister-theatre to the Royal Alex, The Princess of Wales Theatre.
Historical landmarks in the city of Toronto must maintain their original style so when the Mirvish family decided to update the building they took big steps to protect the Edwardian interior.
Saving The Alex
When it was originally constructed the Royal Alexandra Theatre sat in a quaint, park setting and its owner lived within arms reach of the side door.
Sadly, the neighbourhood went through some difficult times in the 1920’s, began to lose its luster and by the 1950’s was destined for demolition. The Mirvish family stepped in and gave Alex new life, and in doing so, they brought new life to the entire neighbourhood.
Today this King Street area is known as Toronto’s “Theatre District” with outstanding restaurants, top-rated hotels and other high quality entertainment venues.
Due to its long and interesting history, a number of exhibits focused on the Royal Alexandra have taken place over the last century. These displays have included photographs, posters, books and even old scripts. The Alex has often been referred to as a “treasure trove.”
Here are some of the popular Broadway-style shows that have taken place here over the years:
- Rock of Ages
- Dirty Dancing
- Mama Mia
- Crazy for You
- Les Miserable
- Billy Elliot
The Alex is not just about traditional theatre; visitors have enjoyed opera, ballet and lectures in this famous Toronto building. The list of stars that have graced the building is also impressive.
Do the names, Mae West, Orsen Welles or Ethel Barrymore sound familiar? How about Hugh Jackman, Martin Short, Victor Garber or Gilda Radner? The list of talented actors and singers who have performed on the Royal Alexandra stage seems endless.
For information on current shows simply visit www.mirvish.com.
Seeing a Show
There are three levels of seating in this historic Toronto theatre; Orchestra, Balcony and Upper Balcony. For your convenience each level has its own lounge and refreshment area.
Since it is a heritage site and must maintain its 19th century design, there are no elevators in the building, but there is wheelchair seating. A quick phone call to the theatre box office will give you an idea of what your options are if you are in a wheelchair.
Mirvish productions prides itself on high quality service so when you need extra assistance, you don’t have to look far to find a helping hand.
If you are the type of person who does not want to miss a single minute of the performance then you can rely on staff that walk throughout the seating areas offering beverages and snacks.
After the Show
Since it is conveniently located in the “Theatre District” you will never go hungry or get bored. The Royal Alex is within walking distance of a wide variety of restaurants, pubs and coffee shops.
It is also close to some of the cities best hotels and entertainment venues. It is easy to make a complete Toronto experience out of a trip to the Royal Alexandra.
The management and staff are so proud of the Alex and its longevity that they look for opportunities to show it off. The largest of three lounges at the “Edwardian” theatre is called, the Yale Simpson Lounge. It can be used for small business events and cocktail receptions.
If you require specific information about Royal Alex facilities you can visit www.mirvishproductions.com. Here you will find drawings, seating plans and a room rental form.
From a historical perspective, the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto is a gem. From a staging perspective it is of royal quality.