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Spring / Summer

Live Theatre Venues in Edmonton

by Farren Timoteo

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 can be seen acting as Assistant Director on H.M.S. Pinafore and Don Giovanni for Edmonton Opera, and can next be seen performing in Forever Plaid at The Mayfield Dinner Theatre

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: Blockbuster and Tony Award winning musical, Once, and Tony Award-winning Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical.

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: The hip-swiveling jukebox musical All Shook Up, and Two Good Knights: The Music of Sir Tom Jones and Sir Elton John.

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: "Hey Ladies!" not your average infotainment game/variety/talk show and "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: Shadow Theatre’s production of "Fly Me To The Moon” Marie Jones' hit comedy, and "Die-Nasty", the legendary improvised live weekly soap opera.

The Grindstone Theatre

The Grindstone Comedy Theatre serves up your daily dose of rip-roaring laughs. The 75 seat theatre space located in the heart of Edmonton's Old Strathcona - just a minute's walk from Whyte Avenue - features 2-3 shows a night, 6 days a week including Improv, Stand Up, Sketch Comedy, Talk shows and more! In between shows grab a bite to eat and an ice cold beer from the Bar and Bistro out front and get ready to laugh until you cry!

Shows to watch out for this season: The 11 O'Clock Number, an improvised Musical, Bump'n Grindhouse Drive In, an evening of great movies and shorts by local cult heroes, The Underground musicals project.

Live Theatre Al Fresco

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.