Toronto is Canada’s centre for the performing arts, and its rich theatre scene offers so many ways to immerse yourself in the imaginary.
Whether you have a taste for musicals, comedies, Indigenous performance or something else, this list will help you navigate the city’s best live theatre venues like a local.
Located in the historic Distillery District, the Young Centre brings modern performance onto a 19th-century industrial backdrop. One of the top venues for nurturing young and emerging talent, it’s the home of the theatre school at George Brown College as well as the Soulpepper Theatre Company – Canada’s largest not-for-profit theatre company and the outfit behind some of the most successful Canadian plays in the past decade. Soulpepper’s success stories like Kim’s Convenience – now a hit CBC television series – have made the Young Centre into one of the hottest tickets in town.
If you’re serious about the stage, don’t miss the Aki Studio – one of the best small theatres in Toronto. Located on Dundas Street East on the main floor of Daniels Spectrum, the 120-seat black-box venue is home to Native Earth Performing Arts, Canada’s oldest professional Indigenous theatre company. Known for its support of Indigenous authors and development of new plays and dance pieces, the venue has hosted many Indigenous, multicultural and independent theatre companies including Obsidian and Paper Canoe. The annual Weesageechak Begins to Dance Festival, held every November, features theatre, dance, opera and multidisciplinary works from Canadian and international artists.
Opened in 1907, this stunning heritage venue on King West has shown nearly 3,000 productions in more than a century of continuous operation. The Royal Alex is undoubtedly the most famous theatre in the city, and its stage has been graced, over its long history, by iconic performers like Humphrey Bogart and Edith Piaf. A jewel of Beaux-Arts architecture, the venue has an imported marble interior accented with carved cherry wood, making it as much of a draw for its design as for its stage shows. The theatre has been modernized over time and has also put Toronto on the map as a cultural hub. Today, it is designated as a National Historic Site of Canada and continues to delight audiences with hit performances like Kinky Boots and Come From Away.
Just down the street from the Pantages Hotel (with which it once shared a name), the Ed Mirvish Theatre is a key piece of Toronto history. Opened in 1920 as a movie and vaudeville theatre, the venue was once Canada’s largest cinema, renowned for its elegant, lavish interior. With great sightlines across the sweeping mezzanine and top-notch acoustics, the theatre has a loyal following and continues to delight audiences with a wide-ranging variety of performances like Mozart’s Don Giovanni, an outrageous comedy inspired by the tradition of Italian Commedia del’arte, and the hit Broadway musical Waitress, among others.
If you’re thinking of seeing a show when you’re here, the best advice we can give is to book your tickets early. We love our performers here and we support them with our attendance.