Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

November 14, 2005

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Filed under: Uncategorized — by bronteana @ 9:46 pm

The Phantoms of the Royal Alex?

In my ongoing quest for material on the early versions of Jane Eyre the Musical when it played at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto for its world premiere, I ran into this interesting website. Apparently some people believe the theatre may be haunted by ghosts. However, the team of investigators were only able to find one shiny thing near the stage, and a few reflections from the lamps. Thinking the theatre was haunted might make a performance of Jane Eyre quite interactive! To the right is a picture of the theatre circa 1906.

Another Janian connection- Orson Welles once appeared upon the boards there. An excerpt from their brief (and seemingly credible) history of the theatre:

Designed by John M. Lyle and commissioned in 1906 by on of the richest millionaires of the time, 21 year old Cawthra Mulock , the Royal Alexandra Theatre was to be Mulock’s grand vision as the “finest theatre on the continent”. Mulock purchased the King Street lot on May 8, 1906 and wasted no time in utilizing the talents of John M. Lyle telling Lyle that no expense was to be spared in the building and detailed completion of the theatre. Taking Mulock for his word, Lyle was to find the best of the best to install in the theatre. Such elegance as fine marble, hand-carved hard woods, silken wall coverings and crystal chandeliers were purchased for the project. A little over one year later in August 1907 the Royal Alexandra opened her doors to the public.

The “Royal Alex:” as it has become affectionately known, boasted a seating capacity of 1525, which was later reduced to 1497 when the seats were enlarged. It is the only theatre in North America to be deemed ‘royal’ by charter of King Edward VII, whose wife, Queen Alexandra; it was named for (the great-grandmother of Elizabeth II).

In my experience, Canadian Edwardiana tends to be not at all mysterious. I grew up in an Edwardian model town built by a gentleman I call ‘the Whiskey Baron’. He bought all the land, and was effectively king there for a good while- giving his name to the environs. The main church there is actually named for his wife! he forbade any other churches within his dominions. I digress… the manor house is now a park, and was quite close to my home. I used to hear stories about its secret passageways, and- bestill my heart- a hidden library! I also remember being told about how an insane slayer of children lived in one dark stone building-

it was the church, actually…

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