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For more than 50 years, the O’Keefe Centre has been one of the premier performing arts venues in Toronto, hosting ballet and opera, concerts, and a variety of stage productions. The O’Keefe Centre was vital to the renewal of the St. Lawrence area that began in the 1960s and included new housing, parks, and cultural venues.
The 3,000–seat theatre was financed by E. P. Taylor, owner of the O'Keefe Brewing Company. It opened with the world premiere of the musical Camelot, starring Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, and Robert Goulet. The New York Philharmonic orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein performed here, as did Harry Belafonte, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin, Anne Murray, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Doors, the Grateful Dead, and Led Zeppelin.
Until 2006, the theatre was home to the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. Foreign ballets also visited. In 1974, during the Cold War, Soviet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov defected to Canada after a performance here with the Bolshoi Ballet.
The venue changed names several times and, in 2015, the L Tower by architect Daniel Libeskind was added to the site.
Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, 2008
Entertainment and Leisure, Music History, Performing Arts
O'Keefe Centre for the Performing Arts, Heritage Property Plaque, 2018.