La Plaza Theatre
Originally known as La Plaza, architect Charles Wagner designed the theatre. It opened in 1909 and featured vaudeville shows. The 3-storey, red-brick building had shops on either side of the entrance with apartments on the top two floors.
Inside the charming venue was an orchestra circle where musicians played for the live acts. Along with having seating for 560 in the auditorium and over 300 in the balcony, the theatre had two box seats on either side of the stage.
During the 1930s, as the popularity of vaudeville was rapidly declining and talking movies were becoming more in demand, the theatre began showing mainly films. In the mid-1960s, La Plaza Theatre closed. Later, the movie house operated under a few different names, including Cinema Ellas, China Cinema, The Off-Broadway Theatre and then, in 1988, reverting to La Plaza Theatre.
Today’s Opera House
In 1989, the theatre was sold. The new owners transformed what’s known today as The Opera House into a modern live entertainment venue while keeping the theatre’s original architecture. That included preserving the beautiful 35 ft proscenium arch that frames the stage, plus the back of the balcony has two of the old projectors on display. The Opera House features 12,000 sq ft of event space, a 900 sq ft stage, the main lobby, 4 bars, a coat check and incredible views from the balcony.
Some impressive acts that have performed at the historic venue include The Tragically Hip, Radiohead, Rick Astley, Metallica, Maroon 5, Black Eyed Peas, Cyndi Lauper and Nirvana. Along with hosting concerts, the intimate venue can also be booked for weddings, theatre performances, comedy shows, film shoots and more.
In 1984, the building received heritage status from the City of Toronto.
The Opera House Photos
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 735 Queen St E
- The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Jan 15, 1988, pg D4
- The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Feb 13, 1990, pg A15
- Toronto Star Newspaper Archives: Dec 28, 1990, pg D13
- The Opera House: About Us
- Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416
- Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives, Toronto Public Library & Archives of Ontario
- Toronto City Directory 1911 courtesy of Toronto Public Library
- Toronto Yellow Pages 1973, 1983 & 1989 courtesy of Toronto Public Library