The Venue: York Theatre
The venue is a profile series from Laura Murray Public Relations that ventures behind the scenes of Metro Vancouver’s foremost arts and culture venues, diving into the past and unveiling the unique stories and events that have made an indelible impact on our city’s creative community.
This week we met up with Jennifer Spry, Rentals Manager, at the gorgeous Art Deco-inspired entrance of The Cultch’s newest venue, the York Theatre for a tour of the revitalized, 100 year-old venue. The first thing that greeted us on our tour was the beautiful, glass and coloured tile lobby. In addition to being a work of art, the glass tiles and oversize windows welcome tons of light and open up the space to the surrounding Commercial Drive neighbourhood just outside the venue.
Famous for narrowly escaping the wrecking ball of a condo developer, the York Theatre was originally designed by architect John McCarter and opened in 1913 as the Alcazar Theatre. Later renamed The York, it was home to the Vancouver Little Theatre Association for 54 years; and most recently, had a turn as Bollywood movie theatre, The Raja.
According to the Vancouver Heritage Society, it remains the only purpose-built theatre, with a fly tower and proscenium stage, on the east side of the city.
Given the historic nature of this jewel of a venue, there are several unique features and challenges the architects faced head-on when modernizing the 370-seat theatre, both in terms of back of house and front of house. Spry acknowledges that while the original lobby and backstage areas were extremely limited in size, the architects did a phenomenal job of maximizing the space – even adding a second level to the lobby where there wasn’t one before.
The house boasts lovely, warm acoustics with spectacular views from the balcony. It is a soundly intimate venue and a true asset to the numerous theatre, dance, and music presenters and producers in town.
Check out the newly refurbished venue and its superb acoustics during Patrick Street Productions’ presentation of Floyd Collins, running March 11 – 30, 2014.