Dear Stanley Theatre,
We just want to let you know that we think you’re one of the best Vancouver theatres – and you look lovely for almost 85 years of age.
It must have been great fun to open in 1930 as a movie theatre in Vancouver. Your owner wanted you to be his dream theatre. And what a picture house you were!
You were designed to be high-class – Art Deco on the outside and elaborate neoclassical on the inside.
Those fancy chandeliers, tiles from Italy and luxury carpets really wowed your movie-goers.
It’s hard to imagine today that it only cost between 10 and 40 cents to see your films!
We know your life hasn’t always been easy though.
You were sold to the big boys – Famous Players – in 1940. That was fine. You continued to flourish, and over the years, received new seats, high-tech sound and a new projection system.
When shows like Star Wars came out, people loved watching futuristic visions while enjoying your old-world glamour.
But then you started losing money. After all, there were lots of shiny new Vancouver theatres you had to compete with. And let’s face it, after 60 years, you were starting to lose your fresh youthful lustre and show your age. (Not that 60 is old!)
And so you were put up for sale in 1991. Those were dark days.
Vancouverites started a “Save Our Stanley” campaign to make sure you weren’t demolished by the wrecking ball.
Thankfully you were eventually bought up by the Arts Club Theatre Company (Western Canada’s largest theatre company) to become their main performing stage. You were renovated (your gold leaf decorations were nicely restored!) and re-opened as a live theatre venue for musicals and plays.
And you regained your lustre, in spades.
Your showing of Les Misérables, which just ended, was a smash hit. And now you’re featuring the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced.
We wonder: Was it hard going through your name change in 2005? Your new name is the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage – a bit more of a mouthful.
We still think of you, though, as Vancouver’s beloved Stanley Theatre. And we wish you a long and full renewed life!