The Queen Elizabeth Theatre is located in downtown Vancouver, Canada, it is the premier performing  arts venue in the area. The theatre can seat up to 2,929, with Mezzanine, balcony and orchestral seating areas. Its great location enables patrons to access the venue from all surrounding areas, and is home to the Vancouver Opera and Ballet BC. The theatre was the first project by the Montreal-based architectural partnership Affleck, Desbarats, Dimakopoulos, Lebensold, Sise. It opened in July, 1959.

Ween at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre - Vancouver, BC

History

Operated by Vancouver Civic Theatres, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre is Vancouver’s crown jewel. It was named after its most famous patron, Queen Elizabeth II, who attended a concert here at the grand opening of the theater on the 15th July 1959. Sir Ernest MacMillan and Nicholas Goldschmidt led the opening concert, featuring soloists Betty-Jean Hagen and Lois Marshall.

Though, the hall was officially used for the first time on the 11th July, hosting a Vancouver Symphony Orchestra concert conducted by Herbert von Karajan during the Vancouver International Festival.

Featuring a stage measuring 70 feet in width and 40 feet in depth, the theater consists of two unique spaces: the impressive 2,765-seat main auditorium and the cozy 668-seat Playhouse Theatre. The theater also has 16 wheelchair spaces.

Architecture

Originally designed to be part of a larger civic center, the Queen Elizabeth Theatre follows a Modernist philosophy by placing cultural life right at the center of the city. Initially a 2,820-seat opera and ballet hall, the theater was built between 1957 and 1959 as part of an international design competition, and stands as a historic icon in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The venue was, in fact, the first project by the architectural partnership – Lebensold, Desbarats, Affleck, Dimakopoulos, Michaud, and Sise – hailing from Montreal. Serving as a prototype that influenced theater complexes across Canada and the United States for over a generation, the architects envisioned a “strong, unitary building” that would deliver “maximum delight and spatial excitement” – and they didn’t disappoint!!

The Queen Elizabeth Theatre features an aluminum-and-glass curtain wall wrapped around the lobby exterior, supported by sturdy concrete columns and shear walls. Inside, the lobby boasts B.C. fir paneling and terrazzo floors, while the auditorium is finished in elegant Japanese Ash.

Queen Elizabeth Theatre interior

Productions

The Queen Elizabeth Theatre made an impact from day one. While “My Fair Lady” and other major roadshows have made Vancouver a must-stop destination, drama, opera, symphony performances became the core activity. In the first season, the venue hosted famous artists and groups like the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir, the Moiseyev Dance Company, George London, Sammy Davis Jr., and actor Vincent Price.

Following seasons featured incredible acts like the New York City Ballet in its Canadian debut (1961), the Stratford Festival’s Gilbert & Sullivan Company (1962), The Best of Spring Thaw (1963), the Royal Ballet (1965, 1986), the Bolshoi Ballet (1966), Ella Fitzgerald with Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass (1977, 1978), the Joffrey Ballet (1977), Gordon Lightfoot (1978, 1981), the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (1981, 1983, 1986, 1987), the National Ballet of Canada (1985), the Pennsylvania Ballet (1984), the Israel Ballet (1984), and the Kirov Ballet (1988). Orchestral concerts were conducted by Charles Munch, Igor Stravinsky, and Bruno Walter. The Queen Elizabeth Theatre has even hosted everything from political meetings to wild holiday bashes! And let’s not forget the epic artists to grace the stage – it now stands as the proud home of the Vancouver Opera, Ballet British Columbia, and hosts a number of industry legends including: Jeff Beck (1975, 1999), Bob Marley and the Wailers (1978), Bruce Springsteen (1978), as well as icons like Michael Bublé, Billy Idol, Keane, Kelly Clarkson, Wu-Tang Clan, and Ed Sheeran at the turn of millennium (just to name a few!).

Seating Areas

The theatre is split into 4 seating areas, at the rear of the seating is set at its highest point with a balcony offering a top down view of the stage. The Dress circle is another great seating options if you like to be situated above the performers , this seating option can stretch to the sides of the theatre. Below the balcony further seating options are available.  The Mezzanine are is located in the central areas. With further general admission seating located closer to the stage.