391-395 Dundas Street,
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The Woodstock Opera House was located at 391-395 Dundas Street, where the Capitol is now.
Owned and operated by John Griffin’s Griffin Amusement Company of Toronto, it opened in 1908 as a 1,480-seat theatre that included a balcony and balcony boxes, and could mount stage as well as silent-movie shows. In the early 1900’s, it had the largest stage (23 x 60 feet) between Windsor and Hamilton. Although silent films were shown regularly, with a 6-piece orchestra in a pit before the stage to provide accompaniment, touring stage shows also made routine and very popular visits. Every summer a stock company would visit for several weeks, putting on a different play each night. The local YMCA also had a singing group, Y Beaver Minstrels, that performed there to packed houses. During the intervals, 11 and 12 year-old YMCA members would be drafted to walk up and down the aisles selling Crackerjacks, as a fund-raiser.
The same building had earlier housed the 1,075-seat Opera House, owned by a local businessman, Thomas Carter, and built in 1893.
In 1927, Famous Players Ltd. bought the Woodstock Opera House, renamed it the Capitol Theatre and soon began showing the first talkies. In 1940, The Capitol Theatre was sold to another local businessman, Tom Naylor, who made extensive upgrades, including adding an up-to-date sound system and fireproofing the projection booth: the nitrate-based film then used was very flammable, unlike the safety film in use today. However, live stage performances were still popular and vaudeville was a part of every Saturday evening show until 1956.
The last change came in 1975, when the balcony was converted into a second and separate theatre, Capitol 2. The Capitol closed in 1999, and was demolished in 2010.
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