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Cats launches Toronto’s commercial theatre boom

Photo caption: The theatre is transformed for Cats, creating greater intimacy between the audience and the cast who populate the junkyard filled with oversized props such as old tires and an old stove.

The Elgin was home to Cats, the musical that launched the Toronto commercial theatre boom in 1985.  The Elgin is part of North America’s only double-decker theatre, with the Winter Garden located seven floors above.  

The Elgin’s history mirrors that of theatre in Canada.  The house began life in 1913 as a 1,500-seat theatre featuring a program that included vaudeville and silents.  Fifteen years later it became a full-time movie house, until it was bought by the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 1981.  The Elgin is now expected to become home to one of the first Canadian-written mega-musicals, called Napoleon and written by Timothy Williams and Andrew Sabiston, both in their early 20’s.