Opera House – Preserved its Vaudeville Theatre Architecture Charm

1946 - La Plaza Theatre, today's The Opera House, at 735 Queen St E
1946 – La Plaza Theatre, today’s The Opera House, at 735 Queen St E (Archives of Ontario I0012580)

The Opera House is located at 735 Queen St E (at Lewis St on the southwest corner, east of Broadview Ave) in the Riverside neighbourhood of Toronto.

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, there 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

2019 - The Opera House at Queen St E and Lewis St, east of Broadview Ave
2019 – The Opera House at Queen St E and Lewis St, east of Broadview Ave

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.

A few of the 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

2022 - The Opera House is located on the southwest corner of Queen St E and Lewis St in the Riverside neighbourhood
2022 – The Opera House is located on the southwest corner of Queen St E and Lewis St in the Riverside neighbourhood
1963 – Looking southwest from Queen St E and Lewis St towards La Plaza Theatre, today The Opera House
1963 – Looking southwest from Queen St E and Lewis St towards La Plaza Theatre, today The Opera House (City of Toronto Archives, Ken Webster Fonds, Fonds 251, Series 1278, File 97)
2019 - The main entrance to The Opera House at 735 Queen St E
2019 – The main entrance to The Opera House at 735 Queen St E
1980s - The Off-Broadway Theatre, today home to The Opera House at Queen St E and Lewis St, on the southwest corner
1980s – The Off-Broadway Theatre, today home to The Opera House at Queen St E and Lewis St, on the southwest corner (Toronto Public Library LOCHIST-RD-104)
1946 - On La Plaza Theatre signs, “Cloak and Dagger,” starring Gary Cooper, Robert Alda and Lilli Palmer and “Black Beauty,” starring Mona Freeman, Richard Denning and Evelyn Ankers, were playing
1946 – On La Plaza Theatre signs, “Cloak and Dagger,” starring Gary Cooper, Robert Alda and Lilli Palmer and “Black Beauty,” starring Mona Freeman, Richard Denning and Evelyn Ankers, were playing (Archives of Ontario I0012580)
2019 - The Opera House entrance and ticket booth
2019 – The Opera House entrance and ticket booth
1947 - The proscenium arch framing the stage at La Plaza Theatre. The 35 ft arch still survives to this day
1947 – The proscenium arch framing the stage at La Plaza Theatre. The 35 ft arch still survives to this day (Archives of Ontario I0012582)
1947 - La Plaza Theatre auditorium and balcony
1947 – La Plaza Theatre auditorium and balcony (Archives of Ontario I0012584)
1947 - La Plaza Theatre concession stand
1947 – La Plaza Theatre concession stand (Archives of Ontario I0012583)
1947 - In the lobby of La Plaza Theatre, “Backlash,” starring Jean Rogers, Richard Travis and Larry J Blake, was advertised as a coming attraction
1947 – In the lobby of La Plaza Theatre, “Backlash,” starring Jean Rogers, Richard Travis and Larry J Blake, was advertised as a coming attraction (Archives of Ontario I0012581)
2021 - Looking southeast towards The Opera House, originally La Plaza Theatre, located at 735 Queen St E and Lewis St
2021 – Looking southeast towards The Opera House, originally La Plaza Theatre, located at 735 Queen St E and Lewis St
2022 - A view of the east and north facades of The Opera House located at 735 Queen St E
2022 – A view of the east and north facades of The Opera House located at 735 Queen St E
2022 - The entrance and mosaic tiles at The Opera House
2022 – The entrance and mosaic tiles at The Opera House
2022 - Looking southwest from Queen St E and Grant St towards The Opera House, originally La Plaza Theatre in the Riverside neighbourhood
2022 – Looking southwest from Queen St E and Grant St towards The Opera House, originally La Plaza Theatre in the Riverside neighbourhood
1911 - The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the La Plaza Theatre; however, it's listed under "435" and should be "735 Queen e"
1911 – The Toronto City Directory showing the address of the La Plaza Theatre; however, it’s listed under “435” and should be “735 Queen e” (Toronto Public Library)
1973 - The Toronto Yellow Pages showing the address and phone number of the Cinema Ellas
1973 – The Toronto Yellow Pages showing the address and phone number of the Cinema Ellas
1983 - The Toronto Yellow Pages showing the address and phone number of the China Cinema
1983 – The Toronto Yellow Pages showing the address and phone number of the China Cinema
1989 - The Toronto Yellow Pages showing the address and phone number of the La Plaza Theatre
1989 – The Toronto Yellow Pages showing the address and phone number of the La Plaza Theatre
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