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Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

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Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage
The Stanley showing Cookin' at the Cookery in August 2007
Former names Stanley Theatre
Stanley Theatre du Maurier Stage
Location 2750 Granville Street, Vancouver, British Columbia
Owner Arts Club Theatre Company (formerly owned by Famous Players)
Type Live theatre (former movie palace)
Capacity 650 (formerly 1,216)
Opened December 15, 1930
Closed September 21, 1991 and Reopened October 28, 1998

The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage (formerly the Stanley Theatre) is a landmark theatre at 12th and Granville Street in Vancouver, British Columbia which serves as the main stage for the Arts Club Theatre Company. The Stanley first opened as a movie theatre in December 1930, and showed movies for over sixty years before falling revenues led to its closure in 1991. After years of threatened commercial redevelopment, the Stanley was renovated as a stage theatre in 1997–1998 and subsequently awarded status as a heritage building.

As a stage for the Arts Club, the Stanley has been used to put on classics, Broadway musicals and other large productions, including Swing!, My Fair Lady, Miss Saigon, Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Irving Berlin's White Christmas. The theatre, which went through major fundraising to finance its renovations and mortgage, at one stage lost its sponsor du Maurier due to tobacco regulations, but in 2005 received new sponsorship from Industrial Alliance Pacific Life Insurance Company and the theatre's name was changed to the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.

Movie theatre

The Stanley opened on December 15, 1930.[1] Originally envisioned as a vaudeville venue,[2] it was built by Frederick Guest, owner of a chain of theatres in Ontario, who reportedly fell in love with Vancouver and decided to build his dream theatre there.[2][3] He hired Henry Holdsby Simmonds as the architect,[3][4] who designed it with a neoclassical interior and an Art Deco exterior,[5] with seating for 1,216 people.[5] In order to make as high quality a theatre as possible, Simmonds used only the best materials he could find, including tindle stone from Winnipeg and tiles from Italy, along with chandeliers, carpets and furnishings from local merchants.[3][5] Like the Stanley Cup and Stanley Park, the theatre was named after Governor General of Canada Lord Stanley.[2]

The first film shown at the Stanley was One Romantic Night, starring Lillian Gish.[1] Admission was originally between 10 and 40 cents.[3][5] The vertical Stanley sign was added in 1940 and the stylized Stanley script came in 1957.[3][5] The cinema, which had been part of the Granville Theatre Company,[4] was bought by Famous Players in 1941 for $268,000.[3][5]

The Stanley was originally built as a neighbourhood theatre, but gradually became more popular and attracted moviegoers from throughout the Vancouver region.[4] From the 1950s onwards, progressively improved sound and projection systems along with refurbished seating added to the theatre's appeal.[3] On July 8, 1954 the Stanley began showing films in stereophonic CinemaScope for the first time.[6] By November 1958,[7] the theatre had a DP70 70mm projector,[8] which at the time was advertised as "the only Todd-AO in Western Canada."[7] On October 18, 1978 the auditorium was equipped with Dolby Stereo,[9] and in November–December 1985 its sound system was upgraded and certified to THX quality assurance standards.[10]

The Stanley Theatre with for sale signs in September 1991, shortly before its closure as a movie house

The Stanley often showed blockbusters.[3] Some movies shown at the theatre through the years included Duel in the Sun,[5] Knock on Any Door,[11] Ben-Hur,[7] Mutiny on the Bounty,[7] Doctor Zhivago,[7] 2001: A Space Odyssey,[7] The Exorcist,[12] The Towering Inferno,[13] The Muppet Movie,[14] Apocalypse Now,[10] The Empire Strikes Back,[10][15] The Elephant Man,[14] Poltergeist,[10] The Right Stuff,[10] Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,[10] Top Gun,[10] The Untouchables,[10] Stakeout,[10] Empire of the Sun,[10] Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,[10] and Goodfellas.[16]

Revenues declined during the late 20th century,[3] and Famous Players closed the Stanley, which was by then the oldest operating movie theatre in Vancouver,[3][17] on September 25, 1991 after a final showing of the Stanley regular Fantasia[18] (the theatre had previously shown Fantasia at least four times, in 1977, 1979, 1980–1981 and 1990).[10][14] Its closure was part of a long trend: The number of Famous Players theatres had dropped from 419 in 1954 to 196 in 1969,[3] and would fall to eighty, some in partnership with other companies, by the time it was taken over by Cineplex Galaxy Entertainment in 2005.[19] Other Vancouver-area Famous Players movie theatres closed, sold or torn down in this period included the Regent (1958),[20] the Strand (1973),[7][21] the original Capitol (1974),[7][22] the Orpheum (1974),[23][24] the Fine Arts (1989),[25][26] Denman Place (1989),[10][26] Park Royal (1993),[7][20] the Park (2005),[27] and the Capitol 6 (2005).[25][28]


Famous Players put the Stanley up for sale in the spring of 1991,[4] with the condition that it not be used as a movie theatre.[17][29] In the months leading up to the Stanley's closure, Famous Players had a conditional sale agreement for the theatre with Vancouver developer Sandy Cox, who was planning to keep the Stanley's facade and convert the interior into retail space.[17] The Vancouver City Council received a proposal to change the building to retail use, which it approved, but the planned development was abandoned, and the building remained vacant for several years.[4] During the early 1990s, a "Save Our Stanley" campaign was begun to preserve the building and prevent commercial redevelopment of the space.[30][31] In 1994 the Stanley Theatre Society was formed to try to buy the Stanley for the Arts Club Theatre Company,[30] and in 1997 it purchased the theatre from Famous Players for $3,173,000.[5] Renovation costs, including sound and lighting equipment, came to $5.8 million,[5] which brought the costs of purchase and renovation to about $9 million,[5][32] $1.5 million more than the $7.5 million originally budgeted.[33] Money came from fundraising campaigns by the Arts Club and Vancouver TheatreSports, at least $3.9 million from the provincial and federal government,[34] a $100,000 grant from the City of Vancouver,[4] the purchase of a density transfer to the [33][37]

Gold-leaf covered dome from front of house, showing stage lighting position

Architects including Thom Weeks and Jennifer Stanley led renovations of the Stanley into a live theatre.[1][5] Weeks was initially disappointed with the state of the pre-renovated theatre, which looked "pretty tired" with its aged orange walls and sticky, soft drink-stained carpets.[5] However, by the time the renovations were completed, and the actors and musicians were getting ready to first perform in it, there was a general feeling of excitement about the theatre.[5] Renovations included expansion of the lobby, reconfiguration of the balcony, an expansion of the stage to twice its original size, a new twenty-five metre fly tower from which to raise and lower scenery, new dressing rooms, a trap room, an electrical room and a green room backstage, a reduction of the number of seats from 1,216 to 650, a crush bar in the old projection booth, a section cut out of the theatre's dome to use for spotlights, and a full restoration of the theatre's gold-leafed plaster decorations.[5][38] As a result of these renovations, in 1999 the theatre was awarded a City of Vancouver Heritage Award,[18][39] as well as an IES International Illumination Design Award.[38]

Effects on the local area

A 2003 study claimed the Stanley's renovation brought positive economic effects to the theatre's local area, bounded by 8th Street and 17th between Fir and Hemlock.[30] According to the study, this area became more of a leisure/recreation destination, with many new culturally related businesses, retail stores and service-related businesses opening. An increase in overall sales was noted and 76% of surveyed residents responded that the theatre's reopening had a positive effect on the community. Business respondents also reportedly had a positive view of the theatre's effects.[30]

Live stage

The 2004–2005 production of Funny Girl

After renovation, owing to du Maurier's sponsorship, the facility was named the Stanley Theatre du Maurier Stage, taken over by the Arts Club Theatre Company and later became their main stage.[40] This venue has allowed the Arts Club to put on new kinds of shows, such as large musicals, classics and productions from around the world.[40] The first production was Swing!, which opened on October 28, 1998 and had a successful run,[40][41] followed by Hamlet.[41] In addition to showing Arts Club productions, the theatre is rented out for other purposes, including business and educational presentations,[30] and has been used for comedy acts and concerts, such as Lorne Elliott,[42] Francis Cabrel,[43] and RyanDan.[44]

By 2005 du Maurier had withdrawn as a sponsor and, along with its over-budget renovation costs, the Stanley was left with a $2 million mortgage.[33] That year Industrial Alliance Pacific Life Insurance Company made a $1.5 million donation, and on April 5 the theatre was renamed the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage for the next twenty years.[18][31]


2012–2013 Season[45]
Show Run Dates
Clybourne Park September 6, 2012 – October 7, 2012
She Stoops to Conquer October 18, 2012 – November 18, 2012
Boeing-Boeing January 24, 2013 – February 24, 2013
2 Pianos 4 Hands March 14, 2013 – April 14, 2013
Dreamgirls May 7, 2013 – July 9, 2013
2011–2012 Season[46]
Show Run Dates
Next to Normal September 8, 2011 – October 9, 2011
The Penelopiad October 20, 2011 – November 20, 2011
Irvin Berlin's White Christmas: The Musical December 2, 2011 – December 28, 2011
Calendar Girls January 26, 2012 – February 26, 2012
The Importance of Being Earnest March 15, 2012 – April 15, 2012
High Society May 10, 2012 – June 24, 2012
Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story July 12, 2012 – August 26, 2012

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage". Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  2. ^ a b c Mathison, Emily. "Things That Go Bump in the Night: Unearthly spirit sightings at a local landmark". Where Vancouver. Archived from the original on December 29, 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Celebrating Our History: The Stanley Theatre—South Granville's Beating Heart". Newsletter of the South Granville Business Improvement Association (Vancouver): 3. April 2007 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Policy Report Development and Building: Proposed Rezoning of 2750 Granville Street (Stanley Theatre)". Vancouver City Council. 1996-07-12. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Inwood, Damian (1998-10-26), "The Stanley swings open: A $5.8 million upgrade brings the theatre back to its Big Band heyday", Vancouver Province 
  6. ^ Kretzel, Bill (2009-01-07). "Vancouver—anamorphic widescreen projection installations 1953–". Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kretzel, Bill (2009-06-15). "CINERAMA and large-frame motion picture exhibition in Canada: The Roadshow/Reserved Seat Engagement Era: 1954–1974 (Vancouver)". Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  8. ^ Hauerslev, Thomas (2008-01-24). "DP70s in Canada". Retrieved 2008-05-06. 
  9. ^ Kretzel, Bill (2009-01-07). "Dolby Six-Track Stereo installations at Vancouver". Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Kretzel, Bill (2009-01-07). "70mm motion picture exhibition at Vancouver 1975–1997". Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  11. ^ "Movie listings for January 6, 1950". Rivest's Ultimate list of movie theatres. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  12. ^ Hartl, John (2004-08-19). "Original "Exorcist" was an event". MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  13. ^ "Movie listings for January 2, 1975". Rivest's Ultimate list of movie theatres. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  14. ^ a b c Kretzel, Bill (2009-01-07). "Stereophonic 35mm motion picture exhibition at Vancouver 1953–1982". Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  15. ^ "Star Wars Grand Opening Dates in Canada". Rivest's Ultimate list of movie theatres. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  16. ^ Eisner, Ken (1990-09-27). "Goodfellas"Movie Reviews: . The Georgia Straight. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  17. ^ a b c Aird, Elizabeth (1991-04-10). "Save Our Stanley: Fans fight sale of city's oldest movie house". The Vancouver Sun. p. C9. 
  18. ^ a b c "The History of Metropolitan Vancouver 1991". The History of Metropolitan Vancouver. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  19. ^ "Cineplex Entertainment Corporate History". Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  20. ^ a b "Vancouver Movie Theatres L–Z" (PDF). Rivest's Ultimate list of movie theatres. Archived from the original on May 17, 2006. Retrieved 2005-05-15. 
  21. ^ "British Columbia Theatres (Page 4)". Cinema Tour: Cinema History Around the World. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  22. ^ Chapman, Aaron (2005-04-02). "The End". The Puget Sound Pipeline Online. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  23. ^ "Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, BC". Club Zone. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  24. ^ "Welcome to the Orpheum". Vancouver Civic Theatres. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  25. ^ a b "British Columbia Theatres (Page 3)". Cinema Tour: Cinema History Around the World. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  26. ^ a b "Vancouver Movie Theatres A–K" (PDF). Rivest's Ultimate list of movie theatres. Archived from the original on May 17, 2006. Retrieved 2005-05-15. 
  27. ^ Stewart, Monte (2005-09-06). "Classic movie fan turns into screen saver". Business Edge. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  28. ^ "Capitol 6 Theatre". Cinema Treasures. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  29. ^ Kalmon, Harold. "Adaptive Re-use: Learning from Vancouver" (PDF). Archived from the original on November 9, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  30. ^ a b c d e Jones, Ken, et al. (2003). "Beyond Anectdotal Evidence: The Spillover Effects of Investments in Cultural Facilities". Ryerson University. 
  31. ^ a b "Stanley Theatre moves to the next stage with $1.5 million donation". The Spirit of Vancouver. 2005-04-05. Archived from the original on January 6, 2006. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  32. ^ Parry, Malcolm (2008-02-16). "Call them irresponsible". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2008-04-05. 
  33. ^ a b c Thomas, Colin (2005-04-07). "Industrial-Strength Sponsor for Stanley". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  34. ^ "Canada-B.C. Infrastructure Works Program, Phase II—Soft Infrastructure Projects". Vancouver City Council. 1997-05-21. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  35. ^ "One Wall Centre". Busby, Perkins + Will. Retrieved 2008-06-01. 
  36. ^ "Committee Reports". Vancouver City Council. 1996-09-26. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  37. ^ Ander, Marc (2007-10-22). "Provincial Government funds Players ad". Breather's Digest. Retrieved 2008-04-07. 
  38. ^ a b "The Stanley Theatre, Vancouver, BC". Total Lighting Solutions. Archived from the original on January 31, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  39. ^ "City of Vancouver Heritage Award: 1999 Winners". City of Vancouver. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  40. ^ a b c "Company History". Arts Club Theatre Company. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  41. ^ a b Page, Malcolm. "Arts Club Theatre". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-03-26. 
  42. ^ MacPherson, Guy (2006-03-02). "Comedy Critics' Picks". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  43. ^ "Francis Cabrel à Vancouver le 11 Juillet 2007" (in French). eMarketing101. 2007-06-13. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  44. ^ "RyanDan". Eventful. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  45. ^ "2012/2013 Season". The Arts Club Theatre Company. Retrieved 2012-09-23. 
  46. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Show Archives". The Arts Club Theatre Company. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  47. ^ "Members Services". BarTalk. The Canadian Bar Association. April 2002. Archived from the original on March 4, 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  48. ^ "Members Services". BarTalk. The Canadian Bar Association. June 2002. Archived from the original on January 24, 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  49. ^ "Curtain Call" (PDF). Theatre BC News. Summer 2000. Archived from the original on November 24, 2005. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  50. ^ a b c "Reviews 2000". Review Vancouver. Retrieved 2008-03-30. 
  51. ^ a b c d "Vancouver Zone for 2001". Theatre BC. January 2001. Archived from the original on November 29, 2004. Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  52. ^ Farolan, Ed. (October 1999). "Calendar of Events". The Review. Archived from the original on April 22, 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  53. ^ Farolan, Ed (December 1999). "Calendar of Events". The Review. Archived from the original on September 21, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  54. ^ a b Farolan, Ed (September 1999). "Calendar of Events". The Review. Archived from the original on September 8, 2005. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  55. ^ "Reviews 1998". Review Vancouver. Retrieved 2008-03-30. 
  56. ^ a b c "Reviews 1999". Review Vancouver. Retrieved 2008-03-30. 
  57. ^ Farolan, Ed (May 1999). "Calendar of Events". The Review. Archived from the original on May 8, 2006. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 

External links

  • The Arts Club
  • advertisement at the StanleyThe Empire Strikes Back

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