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Popular North American theater destinations

Courtesy Tourism Toronto

The project of a visionary entrepreneur has helped to turn a downtown Toronto neighborhood into one of Canada’s leading theater and entertainment destinations.

“Ed Mirvish was kind of the founding father of live theater in Toronto,” said Janice Solomon, executive director of the Toronto Entertainment District Business Improvement Initiative. “He purchased an old, beautiful theater called the Royal Alexandra and reopened it. That was the beginning of shaping theater and the downtown into a great cultural center.”

Today, the Mirvish family owns several theaters in the entertainment district, where they present both well-known Broadway shows and lesser-known productions for runs that can last a month or more. Upcoming titles include “The Wizard of Oz,” “Cats,” “Anything Goes” and “Les Misérables.”

The success of live theater in the area has ushered in a host of other entertainment options as well. Visitors will find the National Ballet of Canada, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Canadian Opera Company performing in venues around the district. Groups can even catch a screening at a theater operated by the Toronto Film Festival.

“They have a home in the heart of the entertainment district, and they run great themed films all year round,” Solomon said. “The festival takes place here in September, and we get A-list celebrities, producers and directors coming for that.”

Toronto’s professional sports teams, including the Raptors, the Maple Leafs and the Blue Jays, all play in venues in the entertainment district as well.