Toronto Opera House

Toronto Opera House


Address: 25-27 Adelaide Street East (pp.87)

Might Directories Ltd. The Toronto City Directory 1903. The Internet Archive.

Also Known As: Jacob & Sparrow’s Opera House, Majestic, Regent.

Early in the 1880s a prominent theatrical manager in New York, H.R. Jacob, and his Montreal partner, J.R. Sparrow, bought a roller-skating rink on the south side of Adelaide Street between Bay and Yonge streets and converted it into a theatre they named the Toronto Opera House. The place was also known as Jacob and Sparrow’s Opera House and it catered to patrons of lurid melodrama until it was purchased in 1889 by Ambrose Small and his partner E.D. Stair of Detroit, whoredid the interior and continued to offer lurid melodrama. In March 1903 a fire gutted the building’s interior, but the place was reconstructed in a bare seven months and christened the ‘Majestic Theatre’ on 2 November 1903 by Mrs Fiske, who played the lead in Mary of Magdalen. According to seating plans of the Majestic published in 1904, the theatre at that time had 732 seats at orchestra level and 455 in the balcony. The gallery likely did not have space for more than 500 and fewer than that if safety and comfort became the governing criteria. Renamed the ‘Regent’ in 1920, the house became the ‘flagship’ of the newly formed Famous Players circuit, where the first film shown on 23 January 1920 was Pollyanna, starring Mary Pickford. The Regent was demolished in the 1930s. (225-226)

Fairfield, Robert. “Theatres and Performance Halls”. In Early Stages: Theatre in Ontario 1800-1914. Edited by Ann Saddlemyer. University of Toronto Press, 1990, pp. 214-287.