All the world's a stage... but especially Edmonton. Let Edmonton-based actor, writer, and director, Farren Timoteo be your guide to some of the most popular theatre venues and festivals in the city. Farren is the Artistic Director of Alberta Opera, and you can see him performing at The Citadel Theatre this season in Peter and the Starcatcher, and his one-person show, Made in Italy.
Edmontonians love spending their free time in a darkened theatre, which explains why the river city has gradually grown into one of Canada’s most electric centres of live performance. No matter the time of year, there’s bound to be so many options to choose from that it can be overwhelming. Fear not! Here is your guide to just some of Edmonton’s most popular theatre venues and festivals.
The Citadel Theatre
Not only is this enormous facility the cultural hub of Edmonton’s downtown scene, The Citadel Theatre is one of the largest not-for-proﬁt theatres in all of North America. Boasting ﬁve performance spaces of varying sizes and styles, a Citadel season offers something for everyone, from big-cast Broadway musicals, to classic plays and intimate cabarets. In addition to its own season, the building also houses two of Edmonton’s most celebrated local theatre companies: the globally renowned Catalyst Theatre, and local favourite improv troupe, Rapid Fire Theatre.
Shows to watch out for this season: Tony-Award winning Gershwin Musical “Crazy for You,” and the Broadway smash prequel to Peter Pan, “Peter and the Starcatcher."
The Mayﬁeld Dinner Theatre
If your idea of musical accompaniment is prime rib and cheesecake, don’t miss your chance to attend the Mayﬁeld Dinner Theatre. The Mayﬁeld's season consistently boasts an exciting collection of Broadway musicals, rousing musical revues, and thrilling mysteries, which come together to make this venue a popular choice for locals. Located at the newly renovated Doubletree Hotel by Hilton West Edmonton, the Mayﬁeld Dinner Theatre gives you the option to combine your stay in Edmonton with an award-winning show and a trip to their revered buffet.
Shows to watch out for this season: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s acclaimed “Jesus Christ Superstar” and the Broadway hit “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.”
The Roxy Theatre
Once you’ve satiated your tastes for Broadway and spectacle, head over to The Roxy Theatre for something a little closer to home. Once located in a historic building on 124th street, a tragic fire in 2015 threatened to permanently eliminate one of the city’s most important artistic centres. However, resident company Theatre Network rose from the ashes and re-established the venue on Gateway Boulevard. With a strict dedication to Canadian playwrights, and a taste for challenging and sometimes controversial content, the award-laden company consistently produces excellent, soul-stirring work of all genres and disciplines that expertly explores our modern cultural identity.
Shows to watch out for this season: "Irma Voth" by Edmonton’s own remarkable Chris Craddock; "Nextfest", a thrilling festival that celebrates emerging artists in theatre, dance, music, film, spoken word, visual art, and multidisciplinary collaborations.
The Varscona Theatre
Few local theatre companies have managed to capture the hearts of Edmontonians in the way that the artist-run Varscona Theatre has. Since its beginnings in an abandoned ﬁre hall in 1982, the Varscona Theatre has ﬂourished and now occupies a brand-new gorgeously renovated facility just off of Edmonton’s reputable Whyte Avenue. As host to eight theatre companies, the venue is virtually bursting year-round with musical theatre (new and classical), boundary-pushing new works, riotous original comedies, and globally-celebrated nights of improv.
Shows to watch out for this season: Anything written by Teatro la Quindicina’s Stewart Lemoine, one of Canada’s most treasured playwrights, Shadow Theatre’s production of “Art” by Yazmina Resa and "Die-Nasty", the legendary improvised live weekly soap opera.
Every year, over 800 performers from around the world come together to present more than 200 shows at The Edmonton International Fringe Festival. There’s something for absolutely all tastes, and enough green onion cakes for everyone. Or head to Edmonton’s Hawrelak Park for the opportunity to enjoy a production of Shakespeare’s classic work from a grassy hill, against the backdrop of the lush river valley at The Freewill Shakespeare Festival. If you’re lucky, the weather will stir synchronously with the romance and tragedy of the bard’s best work, creating a uniquely beautiful theatre experience.