Grand Theatre

Grand Theatre The original Grand Opera House opened amid a strong amateur and professional theatrical tradition on 8 Sept 1881 in the upper floors of the Masonic Temple at London, Ont. At its peak in the 1890s, the 2070-seat Grand was host to 100 companies and 300 performances annually.

Grand Theatre

Grand Theatre The original Grand Opera House opened amid a strong amateur and professional theatrical tradition on 8 Sept 1881 in the upper floors of the Masonic Temple at London, Ont. At its peak in the 1890s, the 2070-seat Grand was host to 100 companies and 300 performances annually. World-renowned artists, including Sarah Bernhardt, Lily Langtry and Ellen Terry and Canadians Clara MORRIS, Emma ALBANI and Henry MILLER, performed in the classical melodramas of the time. When this theatre, part of a Michigan-Ohio-Ontario circuit, burned in 1900, C.J. Whitney, the original lessee, and Ambrose Small, a Canadian impresario, rebuilt and relocated the Grand. Although the capacity was reduced to 1850, the proscenium was larger and crowned by an elegant fresco. After Small's mysterious disappearance in 1919, the building was sold to Famous Players to become a silent movie theatre. The Grand regained its legitimacy in 1945 when it was purchased by London Little Theatre, an active amateur group that won many Dominion Drama awards. In 1973 this group was replaced by a professional company, Theatre London. Major structural renovations in 1977-78 reduced capacity to 829.