As players sink numbered balls at 14 pool tables, competing in games of 8-ball or 9-ball, others choose to keep a classic sport alive. Though largely forgotten elsewhere, snooker thrives at The Orange Monkey, where six tables challenge newcomers with smaller pockets and deeper strategy. Within the 7,000-square-foot facility, marble pillars and vintage bar signs complement the old-fashioned decor, making the tables feel right at home in their green felt zoot suits. At the bar, pool sharks hunt down drafts of beer and snacks such as breakfast sandwiches, nachos, and hamburgers.
Since its Toronto location opened in 1976, Yuk Yuk's has been a collective launching pad for such comedy heavyweights as Jim Carrey, Rick Moranis, and Russell Peters. All of Yuk Yuk's laugh-establishments invite seasoned jokesters and up-and-coming comedians to their stages every weekend for up to four days of high hilarity and three nights of cozy lodging atop their cocktail tables. Many Yuk Yuk's locations offer drinks, dinner, or bar fare during the show, but those interested in dining should contact their club of choice to find out about reservations.
Dooly's Ottawa is a cavernous 18,000 square foot, two-storey entertainment venue, where sports games flicker on 1,500 inches of HD televisions, trendy artwork speckles the walls, and colourful billiard balls are sent soaring across the felt of the 41 pool tables. Bartenders bustle about behind the two bars, pouring pints of draft beer and mixing up cocktails. In between billiards games, friends recline on sleek leather couches, sharing pitchers and platters of juicy wings.
Although those who wear masks typically do so to hide their identities, the players of Odyssey Theatre do so to transform altogether. They use disguises to play up archetypal roles, from the ruddy cheeks of a comic foil to the wide eyes of a performer who has forgotten his lines. In the summer, they don their faces under the stars in Stathcona Park, priming audiences for theatrical revelry with the open air and neighboring Rideau River.
Now in its 38th anniversary season, the Great Canadian Theatre Company is recognized as the oldest independent theatre company in Ottawa. The troupe brings the thought-provoking works of up-and-coming Canadian artists to the intimate 262-seat house of the Irving Greenberg Theatre, which is powered by green technology and conduits that drain the peaking emotional energy from their audiences.
At Magic Lantern Theatres, darkened auditoriums with flickering screens draw audiences into magical worlds where fish can talk, motorcycles leap canyons, and love comes even for those who eat crackers in bed. The partnering multiplex theatres and cinemas show recently released blockbuster flicks at 15 locations spread across Canada, each of which retains its own unique personality and honours any historic roots. In Edmonton, the Princess Theatre’s original 1915 auditorium, complete with balcony, golden drapes, and red walls, accommodates moviegoers with babies or pet hyenas inside a soundproof cry room. In Saskatchewan, the circa-1930 Roxy Theatre preserves the ambience of a Spanish courtyard. As guests find their auditoriums at the Ontario locations, they can admire giant murals by local artist Fred Harrison.