Vancouver Landmarks: The Stanley Theatre

Inside the Historic Stanley Theatre in Vancouver

Exterior of Stanley Theatre in Vancouver, BC
••• Stanley Theatre on Granville Street. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

The historic Stanley Theatre is a Vancouver landmark and heritage site, and one of the most recognizable edifices in the city. Though it began its life as a movie theatre, today's Stanley Theatre is one of the main venues for the highly-acclaimed Arts Club Theatre Company; it has been renamed the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.

The elegant 650-seat theatre generally features six productions a season; its size allows the Arts Club Theatre Company to put on musicals, classic 20th-century plays and acclaimed productions from around the world.

History of the Stanley Theatre in Vancouver, BC

The Stanley Theatre began its life on December 15, 1930 as a movie theatre. Built by theatre-chain mogul Frederick Guest, the theatre was designed to be a dream building: a gorgeous structure with a neoclassical interior, Art Deco exterior, and seating for over a thousand people.

Like Stanley Park, the theatre was named after Governor General of Canada Lord Stanley. The first movie to play there was One Romantic Night, starring Lillian Gish.

Though an extremely successful movie house for much of its life, revenues at the Stanley began to decline in the 1980s. Then-owners Famous Players closed the theatre and put it up for sale in 1991.

It took a few years--and a "Save our Stanley" campaign--before the Stanley Theatre Society (formed to buy the Stanley for the Arts Club Theatre Company) purchased the theatre from Famous Players in 1997.

When renovations to turn the old movie theatre into a live theatre were complete, the building was re-named the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage. It opened to the public with a record-setting production of Swing in October 1998.

The beautifully-renovated theatre was awarded a City of Vancouver Heritage Award in 1999, as well as an IES International Illumination Design Award. Today, it is the Arts Club Theatre Company's main stage.

Getting to the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

The Stanley Theatre is located at 2750 Granville Street, in the shopping-and-dining district of Fairview called South Granville.

Tickets and Shows at Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage

Dining & Shopping Before a Show

If you are going to an evening show, you can plan to have dinner before the theatre in South Granville, which is home to two of Vancouver's best restaurants: the internationally famous Vij's (one of Vancouver's Top 5 Indian Restaurants) and West Restaurant, which is both one of Vancouver's Best Restaurants and home to incredible original cocktails (if you don't have time for a full meal before the show). 

Just want a bite? Walk south of the theatre to Meinhardt's gourmet grocery and grab something from their ready-made counter.

If you're going to a show earlier in the day, or simply want to spend the day in South Granville, there is a lot of fabulous shopping all around the theatre: not only are there big-name international shops (Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, Restoration Hardware), there are also independent and Canadian shops, too, including the high-end boutiques Misch and Bacci's.