Staging a Comeback: Westdale Theatre Adds Stage For Cultural Programming

When the Westdale Theatre opened in August of 1935, vaudeville was just a memory. Other theatres in Hamilton, the grander ones, had been built at a time when the big names of vaudeville came through Hamilton with greater frequency, and in greater numbers, than they did even in Toronto. That meant a stage, stage lighting, and an orchestra pit were common in theatres many of us can remember such as the Capital, the Palace, and the Century (Lyric)

The Westdale never had a stage. No orchestra pit. No stage lighting. The Westdale did one thing, and it did one thing very well for over 80 years – show movies. In fact, I was the first theatre in Hamilton built expressly for sound movies. The restored Westdale Theatre will again be showing movies. Lots of them. From all around the world. In addition to movies, the Westdale Theatre will also be hosting musical performances, guest authors, lectures, and community events. In some cases, we’ll be combining movies and discussions, with a famous director, for example. Imagine watching The Shape of Water, or Crimson Peak, followed by a discussion with Guillermo del Toro. Or having famous Canadian directors discussing one of their films you just watched with them. All are possible at the restored Westdale.

The stage that is being constructed in the restored Westdale permits the theatre to expand its offerings. To honour its Vision of being “a community-based cinematic, cultural and economic hub for Westdale Village, the City of Hamilton and the surrounding region.”

Creating the stage meant the removal of several rows of seats, leaving room for 350 new seats. That’s down from the 475 seats that were in place when the theatre closed for restoration in 2017. In 1935, the Westdale Theatre had almost 600 seats. Think narrower and a lot less leg room. The stage will have a plaque on it with the name and logo of the Hamilton Future Fund. The community-based Fund awarded the Westdale Cinema Group $250,000 toward the restoration of the theatre.

In addition to the construction of the stage, lighting special and sound equipment are being installed to accommodate the cultural programming now being planned by the Westdale Cinema Group.

The Westdale Theatre will soon re-open its doors to the community, offering a wide variety of film and non-film cultural programming. Whether you’re a movie lover, music lover, or book lover, the restored Westdale Theatre is sure to be a cultural hub for the entire community.

For more information about the restored Westdale Theatre project, visit buildingmagic.ca.

The new stage will permit the addition of exciting cultural programming including music, guest authors, and lectures.
At the time of closing, the theatre had 475 seats, some of which were not in great shape
The new stage will have a plaque recognizing the support of the Hamilton Future Fund and their contribution of $250,000 toward the restoration of the theatre.
The stage was created by removing several rows of seats.