Top 5 Theatres in Kitchener-Waterloo
When you say the word ‘theatre’ to someone – indeed, even if you type it into Google – you can’t always be entirely sure if what you mean will translate. For much of human history, theatres have been open areas with a stage in the centre surrounded by rows of seating, where live performances would take place.
But ever since films started to take the world by storm (thanks, Lumière brothers!), theatres have increasingly come to mean ‘movie theatres,’ too. So for the sake of this list, we’ll be looking at both: theatres as venues for live performances, as well as movie theatres.
Now, without further ado (but possibly with Much Ado About Nothing), let’s discover the Top 5 Theatres in Kitchener-Waterloo!
5. Registry Theatre in Kitchener
The Registry Theatre is located right in the heart of Downtown Kitchener, mere steps away from the downtown branch of the Kitchener Public Library. It’s a small, historic building (a Heritage Site as of 1991), with distinctive architecture (one of Kitchener’s few remaining Art Deco buildings).
The building itself was completed in 1939; it served as the Waterloo County Registry, then the Kitchener Department of the Waterloo Regional Police, then storage for the Curling Hall of Fame. Finally, in 2001, the Registry Theatre as we know it today opened its doors, hosting events that range from music and dance to theatre productions, as well as theme nights like ‘Classics at the Registry,’ in which music is played on period instruments.
Check out upcoming events here.
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4. Apollo Cinema in Kitchener
If you love movies – especially movies that won’t necessarily play in major theatre chains – then Apollo Cinema, located in downtown Kitchener, is the place for you. Their prices are quite fair (around the same as the big chains), and with a $10 membership, you get $4 off admission, $5 off on Tuesdays, 10% off concession goods, and free entry on your birthday!
Apollo Cinema is licenced, so you can enjoy one of their craft beers or a selection from their wine list as you watch. Though Apollo Cinema only features a couple movies per day, they hold delightful theme events every month, and offer a great mix of new, buzzworthy films, cult classics, and private screenings.
Find out more here.
3. Princess Cinemas in Waterloo
Did you notice that this is the only entry in our list that’s plural? Well, it’s no mistake – my finger didn’t mistakenly press the ‘S’ key – because there’s not one but two Princess Cinemas in lovely Uptown Waterloo.
The original one (appropriately referred to as Original Princess, or OG Princess if you’re feeling sassy) opened in 1985 at 6 Princess Street West in Uptown Waterloo. It’s a 177-seat cinema situated right on top of a nineteenth-century brewery that features cult films, festival standouts, and eclectic art house fare, as well as a Live on Stage concert series (talk about hipster credentials!).
The second Princess Cinema, ‘Princess Twin Cinemas,’ shows more popular, mainstream movies in its twin cinema, stadium seating location (just a short walk from the Original). You can find out what’s playing at both locations here.
2. St. Jacobs Country Playhouse in Waterloo
St. Jacobs Country Playhouse’s mailing address is in Waterloo, but it actually stands ever-so-slightly north of Waterloo’s border with the Township of Woolwich (I believe the distance is best conveyed as a ‘hop, skip, and a jump’ away), near the intersection of Benjamin Road and Weber Street North.
St. Jacobs Country Playhouse is part of a beautiful, bustling area indeed, with the ever-popular St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market just a few minutes away. As for the Playhouse itself, it is a fine example of traditional Mennonite architecture, and the theatre auditorium has 398 seats laid out in such a way that there’s not a bad seat in the house.
You can see a wide variety of live performances here: ones that will make you laugh, ones that will make you cry, and if you’re especially lucky, ones that will make you laugh while crying (talk about value!).
Click here to find learn about the current productions.
Though we chose to highlight the more independently-run theatres in Kitchener-Waterloo, it should be noted that there are several great theatre chains operating in the region. The Cineplex Cinemas across from Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener offers prestigious VIP service (dinner and a movie), and Landmark Cinemas 10 in Waterloo stands in Kitchener-Waterloo’s fancy, massive new ‘the Boardwalk’ shopping area.
With locations spread throughout Kitchener-Waterloo (in other words, not centred around Downtown Kitchener or Uptown Waterloo, like 4 out of 5 theatres in our Top 5 list), massive venues, and numerous movies airing at any given time, it really is worth it to check out the more mainstream theatres like Landmark Cinemas, Cineplex Cinemas, and Galaxy Cinemas.
But don’t forget about the local gems, either – they need your support! As an interesting aside, Canada is the first country in the world to have a ‘multiplex,’ more than one film playing simultaneously on more than one screen, and Cineplex Entertainment (a Canadian company) is one of the 5 largest cinema chains in North America.
1. Centre in the Square in Kitchener
Each and every theatre in Kitchener-Waterloo offers something special (and we’re especially fond of the ones listed here), but we’d be remiss if we didn’t bestow top honours upon the Centre in the Square. The Centre in the Square has the largest, busiest theatre hall in the entire Waterloo Region: it’s able to seat 2047 people, and over 150,000 people attend annually.
Also inside the Centre in the Square is a smaller ‘Studio Theatre,’ which can accommodate up to 350 people (depending on the seating arrangement). The main theatre itself is a state-of-the-art, with incredible acoustics, a superb seating setup that ensures great views from just about anywhere, and a striking interior design with majestic red curtains and a pervasive golden hue.
The Centre features a wide range of performances (last year there were over 150 events!), ranging from a Broadway shows to stand-up comedy, and from the Classic Albums Live series to ballet. The Centre is also the home venue of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.
Ticket prices vary by performance, of course, but it’s never prohibitively expensive. The top of the line facilities and regal décor, though, can make it feel like there’s no fancier place on earth (and who doesn’t like to feel fancy??).
You can discover the upcoming events here.
Written by Will Kummer