July 22, 2007

The Elgin

The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres, according to Wikipedia, are the last surviving stacked Edwardian theatres in the world. Like so many North American theatres of the era (it was built in 1913), The Elgin went from Vaudeville house to vacant hole to porno/B-movie palace before being restored by a heritage foundation in the late-1980s. Since reopening, The Elgin has staged largescale theatrical productions and served as a host theatre for TIFF.

My take on The Elgin is that every festival-goer should see at least one film there. It's a beautiful room with all of the ornate details typical of early 20th-century theatres. Upon entering, you might feel as though you've stepped into an Edward Hopper painting. More than once I've heard The Elgin described as "cavernous. It's a deep room with a low-hanging balcony, so your experience of a film will be determined greatly by the location of your seat -- much moreso than in other TIFF venues. My advice: get in line early and make a dash for the first 10 or 15 rows. The Elgin is located at 189 Yonge, just north of the intersection with Queen.

Subway Stop: Queen
Rush & Ticket-Holder Lines: Form outside of the theatre on Yonge

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j robert said...

I've been thoroughly enjoying Darren's TIFF previews. A great resource for people new to TIFF and just wonderful reading for those of us who've been there for before.

I have been conflicted about one thing, though. Whether to share my own thoughts on where to sit in various venues. Like most people who've been to TIFF a few times, I've "discovered" places to sit in the various venues, even if I'm late or at the end of the line. Part of me wants to join with Darren and spread the joy of TIFF. But the evil side of me wants to hog that information to myself--what happens if I give away my secrets and they're not so secret anymore?

Lest you think I'm being facetious, I am not (as I suspect Darren already knows). But what's the fun of blogging if you can't embrace the community?

So let me echo what Darren says about the first 10-15 rows in the Elgin. But even better news is that, with the exception of the first two rows (which feel too close for moi), every other after that is fine. Even better are the front rows off to the sides, as the angle isn't uncomfortable and you're a bit farther away from the screen.

Those side rows also have the advantage of not filling up quickly. So even if you're way back in line, you can almost always find a good seat down front. Maybe not 4-5 seats together, if you're with friends. But definitely one or two. Other festgoers tend to take whatever they can get farther back, so they don't head down front, which is really where the better sight lines are.

Now I just have to figure out whether to leave comments on the other venues. :)

Maya said...

Yes, J. Robert, you absolutely MUST, just as I then MUST arrive at the theater before you. Heh.

I loved the Elgin. It's where I caught the TIFF screening of Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth with my friend Kato.

Darren, are you aware of the Cinema Treasures website? It's a great online resource for anyone interested in moviehouses. They have an entry on the Elgin with user commentary.