Updated December 12, 2014
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From Encyclopedia Brittanica, –
“Theatre, also spelled theater, in architecture, a building or space in which a performance may be given before an audience. The word is from the Greek theatron, “a place of seeing.” A theatre usually has a stage area where the performance itself takes place. Since ancient times the evolving design of theatres has been determined largely by the spectators’ physical requirements for seeing and hearing the performers and by the changing nature of the activity presented.”
And, from Wikipedia, “Theatre or theater (from Greek theatron – ??????? – from theasthai, “behold”) is the branch of the performing arts concerned with acting out stories in front of an audience using combinations of speech, gesture, music, dance, sound and spectacle – indeed any one or more elements of the other performing arts. In addition to the standard narrative dialogue style, theatre takes such forms as opera, ballet, mime, kabuki, classical Indian dance, Chinese opera and mummers’ plays”.
Now the 2014 Tony Awards have come and gone, and although there were no runaway shows, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder won best musical, best book, best costume design and best direction which is pretty great. Audra McDonald walked away with her 6th Tony breaking the record of 5 set by Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury. The Best play was All the Way with award winner Bryan Cranston. Best revivals were Raisin in the Sun with Denzel Washington, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch with Neil Patrick Harris.
This week we lost the brilliant Robin Williams, and film/theatre star Lauren Bacall. It seems many great stars have passed recently, but as we grew up with these celebrities, and we are aging, naturally so are these talents. Most of the major stars that I saw on stage are no longer with us, from the Lunts, Deborah Kerr, Julie Harris, Yul Brynner, Elaine Stritch, Geraldine Page, Jessica Tandy, et al. The younger stars do not seem to replace these brilliant talents unfortunately, with some exceptions like Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Glen Close, Maggie Smith, etc.
I developed/found my interest in theatre when in High School. I got a chance to see a dress rehearsal of “Streetcar Named Desire,” and that literally changed my life. This was at the Red Barn Theatre in Jackson’s Point, which was Canada’s oldest summer theatre venue, long since burned down. My next live theatre was in Toronto at the Royal Alexandra, Deborah Kerr and John Kerr in “Tea and Sympathy.” When I moved to Toronto, I literally saw everything at the Royal Alexandra, from J.B, Anastasia, Luther, The Visit, with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, Diary of Anne Frank, Separate Tables with Geraldine Page, The Best Man, Advise and Consent, The Miracle Worker, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Look Homeward Angel, Auntie Mame, and musicals like South Pacific, Pajama Game, Guys and Dolls, King and I, Finian’s Rainbow, L’il Abner, etc. No wonder I got hooked on live performances.
Also when in High School, my mother took me to Stratford to see the Stratford Shakespearian Festival. This was another whole new world to me, and theatre began to take over my life. Not from an acting point of view, but just being an audience member. Now at 75, my major interest is theatre. On a trip to New York City or London I will see 10 shows in a week.
In 1959 I went to New York for the first time, in a weekend we saw Raisin in the Sun with Claudia McNeil, Once Upon a Mattress, with Carol Burnett, and Leave It To Jane.
In 1965 I got to London for the first time, and saw Maggie May, Creeps, Killing of Sister George, Homecoming and Amen Corner, again with Claudia McNeil.
The great talents I have seen on stage is amazing. From the Lunts, to Mary Martin, Albert Finney, Julie Harris, Anthony Hopkins, Angela Lansbury, the Redgraves, Barbara Streisand, Ingrid Bergman, Lillian Gish, Vivian Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Perkins, Jessica Tandy, Judy Garland, Judy Holliday, Ethel Merman, to name a few. For this last 60 years my time spent in the dark has been most worthwhile and a very rewarding experience. I feel I have experienced the most that theatre had to offer.
I hope this site will give you some insight into this fantastic world of make-believe. It is set up by theatres, not only those current and bookable, but those that have been abandoned or demolished over time, including year, location, seating capacity and major productions. It is a great research site for not only theatregoers, but actors, students and teachers of the arts:
By long runs on Broadway, Off Broadway, London, and Toronto:
And by what is on in major cities, like New York, London and Toronto