A second Seattle-based circuit extended to Vancouver through the efforts of Alexander Pantages, who opened Vancouver's first Pantages Theatre on January 6, 1908 at 150 East Hastings Street. Greek-born Pantages had made it to Seattle by way of the Klondike, where he entered into a partnership with a dance hall girl known as “Klondike Kate” Rockwell. They opened a Dawson City music hall called the Orpheum which, during its heyday, was so popular among the Yukon gold miners that it grossed $8,000 a day. It was from the States, however, that Pantages began his theatrical empire.
By the time he built the Vancouver Pantages, he had a small chain that included three theatres in Seattle. In 1926 he owned or controlled 74 theatres throughout Canada and the United States. The Vancouver theatre was so successful that Pantages built a larger and more opulent Pantages Theatre down the street at 20 West Hastings, which opened on June 18, 1917.
The first Pantages, the city's oldest surviving theatre, went through a variety of permutations over the years, they were: the Royal in 1919; a burlesque theatre called the State; the Avon in 1953, when it was the home of the Everyman Theatre Company; City Nights classic film venue in the 1970s; and finally a Chinese cinema, the Sun Sing. The now abandoned theatre's opera boxes, soaring proscenium arch at the front of the stage and ornate decorative work on the walls are potent reminders of a past era. The Pantages Theatre, despite its present disrepair, retains an elegant, intimate atmosphere, and the acoustics are superb. (next page)
©2006, Dance Collection Danse