The Second City Unveils Sprawling New Downtown Site
If you can’t beat them, join them.
Two years ago, the Second City, Toronto’s famous improv sketch troupe, was forced out of its home in the Entertainment District to make way for a new residential high-rise. It was not the first time the organization had moved due to private development. About fifteen years earlier, the company had left its Blue Jays Way site when there were also plans to redevelop it.
So later this fall, it seems fitting that the company is moving into, you guessed it, a newly built skyscraper.
The second city is due to officially open its new location at One York Street on November 30, with public performances beginning the following month. The sprawling 28,700 square foot site will feature three theaters, nine training center studios, a restaurant and an ode to the company’s colorful past.
The new space will enable “an incredibly exciting expansion of programming and opportunities for our artists and students,” said Carly Heffernan, Creative Director of Second City Toronto. « We’re thrilled to be able to bring more variety to the programming that hits our stages and engage even more artists from Toronto’s exceptional comedy community. »
The centerpiece of the venue is Second City’s new 244-seat Mainstage Theatre, the site’s largest live performance venue. The theater opens in early December with three shows, including the holiday-themed « The Second City’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays » and « Improv Holiday Brunch. »
The second venue, Theater ’73 (named after the year Second City arrived in Toronto), can accommodate 170 spectators. His first show is a wacky original comedy, « Jingle Bell Ruckus. »
The 70-seat John Candy Box Theater will serve as the company’s new student theater, a space where young actors at the Second City training center can hone their craft. The space is named in honor of the late Canadian comedian who began his career on the set of Second City and the cast of Emmy-winning TV show ‘SCTV’ before becoming a movie star .
The intimate theater will also feature a piece of Toronto comedy history, outfitted with some of the original hardwood flooring from Second City’s original Toronto location. It’s from the stage that Candy performed on, along with fellow comedy titans including Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Gilda Radner, Eugene Levy and Mike Myers.
« We’re thrilled to bring an incredible piece of Second City history to the John Candy Box Theater, where our current and future students can literally walk the same boards as Second City icons, » said Heffernan.
Associate Artistic Director Julie Dumais Osborne said the expanded space will allow the company to offer a wider range of classes, community events and performance opportunities for students.
In the lobby, floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the soon-to-open Love Park, which includes a heart-shaped pond. The common lobby will also house a bar and a restaurant signed Oliver & Bonacini.
The space, part of a 35-story mixed-use development built in 2016, was originally intended for Target but became vacant when the retail chain exited the Canadian market.
The new site is Second City’s fourth permanent location in Toronto in nearly five decades. His original home was at the old Lombard Street Fire Station. In 1997 it moved to another location on Blue Jays Way. From 2005 to 2020, the troupe was on Mercer Street, in the heart of the city’s entertainment district. Last year the business moved to a temporary location on Danforth Avenue when the new site was completed.
The move from The Second City to Toronto comes amid a year of transformation for the company, which has its roots in Chicago. The organization also recently announced the opening of a new location in New York. Last year the organization was sold to a New York private equity group, the first change in ownership since the 1980s.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION