MIDTOWN THEATRE MAGIC
THE REGENT RETURNS

Before

Who We Are

Terra Bruce Productions creates and stages original musical theatre productions in Toronto and Newfoundland. They are the owner and resident company at The Regent Theatre.

Terra Bruce is led by COO Bob Hallett:

A native and resident of St. John’s, in 1993 he and some friends started Great Big Sea, a legendary band that went on to sell over a million and a half records around the world over a 20-year career. Among other accomplishments, the band had twelve gold and multi-platinum albums, including several number one albums in Canada. A master musician steeped in Newfoundland traditional styles, Bob can play a dozen instruments, and wrote and sang many songs with the band. He has played thousands of concerts with Great Big Sea and other artists, and made countless appearances on television and radio. His company Kilbride Music, has managed bands, produced records, created radio specials, and promoted many live concerts. He works with the producers of the Tony and Olivier award-winning Broadway musical Come From Away as a Music Consultant and has also worked at the Stratford Festival as a Composer and Music Director. As an author he has written dozens of magazine articles, essays and several books, including the best-selling memoir Writing Out the Notes, and as an arts entrepreneur he is a frequent commentator on public affairs.

The Executive and Program Director of The Regent Theatre is Franco Boni:

From 2003 – 2019 Franco served as Artistic Director of The Theatre Centre, leading the company in the restoration of a former Carnegie Library into its new performance venue on Queen Street West. Past positions include Artistic and Executive Director of The PuSh Festival in Vancouver, Festival Director of the Rhubarb Festival and Artistic Producer of the SummerWorks Festival. Awards include the George Luscombe Award for mentorship, the inaugural Ken McDougall Award for emerging directors, and the Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award, recognizing his outstanding leadership in the development of arts and culture in the City of Toronto.

The architectural team designing The Regent Theatre is NORR Architects with Harriri Pontarini Architects. The builder is EllisDon.

THE HISTORY OF THE REGENT THEATRE

The Regent Theatre was built in 1927. It was a theatre building designed for Famous Players by the well-known architect Murray Brown. The theatre, originally named The Belsize Theatre, was built on Mount Pleasant Road as part of a new community spurred by the road’s construction in 1915. Murray Brown’s design for the Famous Players movie chain incorporated Edwardian Classical Revival symmetry, fenestration and detailing on the principal façade (west elevation), and a 2-storey street height to complement neighbouring Edwardian-style retail shops. Like many theatre designs of the era, retail shops were integrated into the design, flanking the theatre entrance doors to provide additional economic support. The interior was designed according to a Beaux-Arts axial plan, with Edwardian Classical detailing throughout the lobby and auditorium.

In 1950, Famous Players commissioned leading theatre architects Harold Kaplan and Abraham Sprachman to design alterations to modernize The Belsize Theatre. Kaplan & Sprachman designed a modern glazed theatre entrance, vestibule and ticket box, and covered much of the original detailing in the lobby ceiling and auditorium proscenium to create a more streamlined interior reflective of the theatre trends of the era.

A new spherical scalloped canopy with neon-lit Hollywood lights was installed, as well as a mid-century expressionist winged marquee and projecting signage. The theatre reopened in 1950 as The Crest Theatre, screening films.

In 1953, a family of established Canadian actors, Murray and Donald Davis, with their sister Barbara Chilcott, leased the building from Famous Players. They had a vision for a local playhouse that would serve the growing urban metropolis with affordable theatre, as well as support the local professional theatre community.

Under the Davis’s tenure The Crest Theatre (1953 – 1968) became one of only two live performance theatres in Toronto, with 13 seasons and 150 productions. The Crest Theatre is regarded as an integral initiative in the establishment of a civic theatre scene in Toronto, and many successful Canadian artists and theatre professionals acknowledge the vital contribution The Crest Theatre made in their developing careers. From 1971 until 2021, the theatre re-established itself as a movie house, reopening after renovations in 1988 as The Regent Theatre.

In January 2022, Terra Bruce Productions purchased The Regent Theatre, and has proposed an exciting plan to rebuild and restore this landmark property.

Questions or inquiries please Contact Franco Boni
fboni@terrabruce.ca