David Mirvish Announces $2.5 Million upgrade of The Royal Alexandra Theatre Seating Capacity Reduced & New Seats to Offer Modern Audiences Enhanced Comfort The legendary and iconic Royal Alexandra Theatre, one of the oldest continuously operating legitimate theatres in North America, will close its doors on May 15, 2016, after Kinky Boots ends its successful 11-month run, to undergo a major renovation and restoration.
The theatre will reopen on November 15, 2016 with the Canadian premiere of Come Far Away, the Canadian-written, Broadway-bound musical about the people of Gander, NL.
Opened in 1907, the Royal Alex was built by the “boy millionaire” Cawthra Mulock “as a public and cultural service” to the city. He boldly stated it would be “the finest, most modern on the continent.” Which the theatre proved to be, especially in the opinions of the scores of legendary performers who have played on the Royal Alex stage over the years – everyone from Al Jolson to Katharine Hepburn. They loved how the three-level auditorium design brought the audience as close as possible to the performers onstage, creating an intimacy that has never been matched in other theatres. Audiences also valued the intimacy, and they loved the unparalleled sightlines and the excellent acoustics.
By 1963, only operational a few weeks a year, the theatre threatened with demolition. Businessman Ed Mirvish bought the building and saved it from the wrecking ball. Immediately he set about restoring the building, stripping the interior to its floorboards and making sure the theatre remained the finest on the continent for its next half century.
109 years later, the Royal Alex is about to be given another restoration, this time to welcome it to the 21st century. When the building reopens, on November 15, 2016, the Royal Alex will be born anew. All the beautiful and elegant elements of its gracious interior, including the beaux-arts influenced plaster mouldings on the balcony fronts and ceiling, will be lovingly cleaned and restored to their original look. Architect John Lyle’s revolutionary design of the auditorium – that introduced the concept of cantilevered balconies so that no audience member’s sightline of the stage was blocked by pillars – will remain.
Improved seating (with additional width and leg room) means the 1,497 seat venue will be reduced to 1,244 seats when the project is completed.