Skip to Content

The Stanley Theatre, Vancouver, is a lovely grand dame!

Dear Stanley Theatre, Vancouver,

We just want to let you know that we think you’re one of the best Vancouver theatres.

And you look lovely for almost 90 years of age!

The Stanley Theatre, Vancouver: History

Stanley Theatre in Vancouver

It must have been great fun to open as a movie theatre in Vancouver in British Columbia in 1930.

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!

Vancouver's Stanley Theatre is beloved by many Vancouverites!
Vancouver’s Stanley Theatre is beloved by many Vancouverites!

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.

Stanley Theatre Vancouver - Poster for Swing production - photo Arts Club
The poster for the production of Swing (Credit: Arts Club Theatre)

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.

Stanley Theatre Vancouver - Les Miserables
Les Miserables cast (Credit: Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage)

Your showing of Les Misérables, was a smash hit.

And now you’re featuring productions like Kinky Boots and the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced.

Vancouver theaters - Stanley Theatre Vancouver
The Stanley Theatre today, renamed Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage (Credit: Arts Club Theatre)

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!

The Stanley Theatre at a glance

Play list: See what shows are playing and coming to the Stanley Theatre (Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage) in future.

Location: 2750 Granville Street, Vancouver (Granville at 12 Avenue).

About the authors:

Janice and George Mucalov

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews and information, insanely useful travel tips and more!


Wednesday 14th of October 2015

Such a treasure to have this in Vancouver. I haven't been before but after reading this I'll definitely be heading there when we get back to Canada. We fell in love with Astor Theatre in Melbourne Australia which has a similar history and look to it but hasn't been updated like the Stanley has yet.


Tuesday 22nd of September 2015

I love the way you've paid homage to the history and highs and lows of this theatre's past by addressing it directly. Theatre performances and shows are so accessible to people these days but I always think what utter magic it must have held back in the past where it was such a huge event and occasion and with an interior like this with beautiful chandeliers and carpets ?

Irene S. Levine

Tuesday 22nd of September 2015

Community theaters can bring vitality to neighborhoods. This one looks like a beauty! They also help local businesses, like restaurants and lounges, up their game~


Tuesday 22nd of September 2015

What a winning combination, Art Deco exterior and neo-classical interior. I love old buildings such as this and am delighted to see that the theatre is enjoying a new lease of life to the benefit of local residents


Tuesday 22nd of September 2015

How practical to restore and reuse these lovely old theatres. In Ontario we are also using older theatres for plays and musicals. These grand dames are intimate, elegant - real eye-candy!

Thanks for sharing.

Janice and George

Tuesday 22nd of September 2015

Eye candy! Yes, that they are... Watching a play or musical in one of these restored old theatres really adds to the experience and makes it more special.