Guide to Montréal theatres

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

This article was updated on March 4, 2020.

Montréal is home to numerous theatres that host English and French productions year-round. Here is a handy guide to many of the city’s most popular theatres and theatre companies.

Popular mainstream theatres

Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier: The largest performance hall in Québec with seating for 2,996, Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier is home to the Opéra de Montréal and regularly presents concerts, special events and touring blockbuster Broadway shows such as The Lion King. Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier is in the Place des Arts complex, which is home to several theatres, including Théâtre Maisonneuve.

Centaur Theatre: Montréal's largest English-language theatre was founded in 1969 and presents international, national and Québec playwrights on its two main stages, with an emphasis on Montréal.

DUCEPPE:  Founded in 1973 by Jean Duceppe, this company is one of Montréal’s busiest French-language mainstream theatres, located in Place des Arts, and presents international, national and Québec playwrights.

Théâtre du Nouveau Monde: Located in the heart of the Quartier des spectacles, the French-language TNM was founded in 1951 in what used to be the historic vaudeville theatre The Gayety, and today presents classics from today and yesterday, from Shakespeare to Michel Tremblay.

The Segal Centre for Performing Arts: Located in Montréal’s West End (Côte Ste-Catherine metro station), the Segal Theatre is a pillar of Montréal’s English-language and local Yiddish theatre scenes, produces classics and commissions new Canadian works, while the Segal Studio regularly presents productions by such companies as the Black Theatre Workshop, the oldest professional Black theatre company in Canada.

Théâtre St-Denis: This gorgeous art–deco theatre hosts concerts year-round, musical revues such as American Story and, during the summertime Juste pour rire festival, blockbuster runs of French-language adaptations of Broadway musicals like Mary Poppins, Hairspray and Footloose.

Celebrating Québécois theatre

Théâtre du Rideau Vert: Founded in 1948, TRV is the first professional French-language theatre in Québec, producing works by such legendary Québec artists as Félix Leclerc and Michel Tremblay, to adaptations of plays by Noel Coward and Harold Pinter.

Théâtre de Quat’Sous: Founded in 1955, this high-design theatre in the Plateau district showcases French-language Québec talent and pushes the limits of theatricality. 

Théâtre Prospero: Since 1999, some 250 companies have presented innovative French-language plays in a multi-space venue showcasing both emerging and established artists. 

Théâtre Denise Pelletier: Founded in 1964, the TDP specializes in French-language theatre for youth. Each year, some 60,000 students from 250 schools watch a play at the TDP.

La Licorne: Run by the in-house Théâtre de La Manufacture, programming showcases French-language international and Québec theatre.

Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui: Founded in 1968, this Plateau theatre is dedicated to presenting new works by Québec and French-Canadian playwrights.

Maison Théâtre: Founded in 1982 and housed in the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal building in the Quartier Latin, Maison Théâtre regroups 27 theatre companies whose mission is to produce French-language plays for students and other youth. 

Avant-garde theatre

ESPACE GO: Founded in 1979, this avant-garde French-language theatre presents cutting-edge Québécois plays, with a focus on works created by women. 

Usine C: Established in 1995 by Montréal’s Carbone 14 dance company, famed for its physical theatre, Usine C presents a wide range of avant-garde shows, including dance, at its progressive arts and performance centre in the Gay Village. 

Espace Libre: Founded in 1979 when theatre companies Nouveau Théâtre Expérimental, Omnibus and Carbone 14 joined forces, Espace Libre presents audacious and experimental plays and performances that spark intercultural dialogue.

Indie and alternative theatre

MainLine Theatre: The home of indie theatre in Montréal, and the HQ of the St-Ambroise Montréal Fringe Festival, MainLine Theatre presents productions by various indie theatre companies year-round, as well as the popular Confabulation storytelling series, experimental performance projects, and shows during the Fringe and Just For Laughs festivals.

Théâtre Sainte-Catherine: Open since 2004 in the heart of the Quartier des spectacles, TSC is a bilingual indie theatre that presents comedy, improv and sketch nights, theatre, home-grown cabaret and burlesque acts, as well as shows during the Just For Laughs and Zoofest festivals. The TSC is also home to the Théâtre Sainte-Catherine Café-Bar.

Montréal, arts interculturels: Known as “the MAI” by locals, their mandate is to promote intercultural art in French and English. The centre presents contemporary dance, performances, plays and solo shows year-round.

Popular downtown theatres

Monument-National: The oldest theater still in use in Québec, the Monument-National first opened in 1893, and presented works in French, English and Yiddish, from American theatre stars to Edith Piaf. Today, the Monument-National presents concerts, opera and French and English productions by Canada’s prestigious National Theatre School.

Théâtre Outremont: Open since 1929, this historic theatre presents programming in film, music, dance, theatre and for children.

Le Gesù: Originally opened in 1865 and renovated in 1992, this intimate 425-seat amphitheatre books French and English theatre, comedy shows and concerts, notably during MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE and the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.

Rialto Theatre: A former movie palace inspired by the Paris Opera House and built in 1923 and 1924, the historic Rialto Theatre hosts concerts, comedy shows, burlesque, theatre and musical revues.

DB Clarke Theatre: Located in the heart of downtown Montréal, this gorgeous state-of-the-art 387-seat proscenium theatre at Concordia University hosts productions by the Department of Theatre, local Broadway shows by The Lyric Theatre and children’s theatre by the acclaimed Geordie Theatre.

Pollack Hall: Students and faculty put on over 400 music concerts each year in this century-old McGill University venue, including the world-renowned Opera McGill.

Neighbourhood theatre

Théâtre Mirella et Lino Saputo: Inspired by La Scala in Milan, this gorgeous venue in the Leonardo da Vinci Centre located in Saint-Léonard, in the heart of Montréal’s Italian community, hosts theatre productions, musical acts, comedy shows and film screenings.

Repercussion Theatre: Founded in 1988, this open-air, English-language Shakespeare company presents its much-lauded Shakespeare-in-the-Park tour in Montréal parks each summer. 

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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