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Crest Theatre

Company and venue in Toronto, Ontario, which was an important instigator of professional theatre in Canada. It was founded in 1954 by Murray and Donald Davis and their sister Barbara Chilcott, and performed in an 822-seat theatre formerly named the Belsize built in 1927 on Mt. Pleasant Road.

In the 1950s and 60s,the Company went on to produce over ninety plays from the Canadian and international repertories and presented the works of Robertson Davies, Marcel Dubé, Mavor Moore, Bernard Slade, Herbert Whittaker, with directors Malcolm Black and John Hirsch, and actors Barry Morse, Kate Reid, Martha Henry, Charmion King, Gordon Pinsent, Bruno Gerussi, Frances Hyland, Douglas Rain, and Amelia Hall among many others.

In 1957, J.B. Priestly's The Glass Cage premiered with the company, and when the troupe toured the work to London's West End, it became the first all-Canadian troupe to play there.

However, times became hard in the 1960s, and the Canada Council actually refused a grant because it claimed the Company's artistic standards were slipping. The Crest Theatre closed in 1966.

In 2020, retired businessman Walter Schroeder purchased the theatre space, which had for many years been a cinema named the Regent, and undertook an extensive rebuild for productions of new Canadian musicals by his Company, Terra Bruce. Franco Boni, formerly Artistic Director of The Theatre Centre is Executive and Program Director. Designed by NORR Architects and Hariri Pontarini Architects who designed the Patterson Theatre for the Stratford Festival, the auditorium will have 600 seats.

An archival collection on this subject is available at the Toronto Reference Library.

Readings: Eugene Benson and L.W. Conolly. English-Canadian Theatre. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1987; Anton Wagner, ed. Contemporary Canadian Theatre: New World Visions, Toronto: Simon and Pierre, 1985.

Profile by Gaetan Charlebois. Additional information provided by Anthony L. Wynn, Clair Sedore, and J. Kelly Nestruck (theglobeandmail.com, April 1, 2023).

Last updated 2023-04-02