The Revue Theatre is located at 400 Roncesvalles Ave (just south of Howard Park Ave) in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood of Toronto.
The Architecture of the World War I Era Theatre
In 1911, a permit was given to the Suburban Amusement Co to build a theatre and the following year, The Revue Theatre opened. The World War 1 era single-screen theatre features Edwardian Classicism architecture. Attributes include a two-storey façade with a cornice and triangular pediment. Inside the pediment is the word “REVUE.” The second storey features red brick, wood trim, paired columns, round windows with keystones, and flat-head windows with flat arches, while the lower level has two pairs of centred entrance doors.
The Early Years
When The Revue Theatre opened, silent films were shown; however, in 1929, it transitioned to more modern talking pictures. In the mid-1930s, prominent Toronto architects Kaplan & Sprachman extensively reconstructed the building in the Art Deco style. A marquee was added, and capacity was increased to over 540 seats. In 1955, two back rows were removed from the theatre to accommodate a concession stand. This was something that had been in other Toronto theatres for years.
Renamed the Revue Cinema
During the 1960s, German films were shown, while in the 1970s, they became an independently operated repertory and art-house theatre. In 1972, the theatre was renamed the Revue Cinema. In the 1980s, it became part of the local Festival Cinemas chain with the Fox, Royal, Bloor and Kingsway. In 2006, the chain closed, and so did the theatre. That same year, the Revue Film Society was created, and this gem received heritage status from the City.
In 2007, the theatre’s marquee collapsed due to many years of neglect and heavy snow. Luckily, no one was injured. It reopened that same year as a not-for-profit, community-driven theatre. In 2014, a grant was given to the theatre, and with the funds, the lobby and interior were restored to their previous charm.
The Revue Theatre Today
The historic cinema is the oldest operating theatre in Toronto and is still run by the community. The Revue Cinema screens second-run Hollywood movies along with hosting special events.
Did You Know?
- When The Revue opened in 1912, the Toronto Board of Education sent a letter of protest to the Police Commissioner. The Board was troubled that the theatre was in the vicinity of Howard Park School and about the influence moving picture shows could have on children in the area.
- The architectural duo of Kaplan & Sprachman designed over 75 theatres throughout Canada. Some of their other Toronto works include the Allenby, Eglinton and Bloordale Theatres.
- Today, the theatre’s film society works with local charities, organizations and schools for fundraising initiatives and for educational purposes.