At Rainbow Cinemas & 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 auditoriums show recent blockbusters at 16 multiplex theatres that 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 auditorium at the Rainbow Cinemas Ontario locations, they can admire giant murals by local artist Fred Harrison.
Shoeless Joe’s beckons to passersby with aromas of tasty grill fare—roasted chicken, ribs, and burgers. Named for White Sox outfielder Joe Jackson, who famously made a home-run catch with a bare left foot, Shoeless Joe’s pays tribute to the world of sport, supplementing AAA sirloin steaks, thin-crust pizzas, and pasta dishes with regular broadcasts of baseball, hockey, football, and UFC fights. Guests can wash down their dinners with drafts or cocktails from the drink menu, which boasts classic concoctions as well as inventive creations tinged with ingredients such as maple syrup, blueberry puree, or bacon.
Second-year music director Danielle Lisboa leads the volunteer-based Orchestra Toronto, which has been wooing ears with tightly spun symphonic works for nearly 60 years. The 80-piece ensemble reassembles in February, providing concertgoers respite from cold-weather blues and panhandling snowmen with "Winter Tales," a collection of fiery, accessible compositions from several legendary composers. Lars-Erik Larsson's The Winter's Tale sets the show in motion before giving way to a quartet of classics, including Chris Meyer's In Memoriam Henryk Gorecki and Sergei Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet Suite no. 2. To start the afternoon, attendees can pop into a pre-concert chat, where Clasical 96.3 FM personality Alexa Petrenko will discuss the day's set and explain how violins maintain such curvy physiques. Recognized among Canada's elite venues, George Weston Recital Hall creates an acoustical cocoon with painstakingly insulated walls and retractable curtains and panels that can be rearranged for optimal sound.
You can always tell what day of the week it is by peaking your head into Alleycatz Live Jazz Bar's modern dining room. On Mondays, salsa bounces off the eatery's vibrant red oak and exposed-brick walls as instructors lead groups in free dance lessons. Jazz musicians improvise on Tuesdays, blues singers take the stage on Wednesdays, and soul and R&B bands please cochlear passageways on Thursdays. Fridays and Saturdays end the week by featuring a rotating melange of genres and top 40 hits.
Of course, this up-tempo atmosphere is fueled by food inspired by the Mediterranean, where some anthropologists believe music also exists. Just like jazz players enjoy slipping extra notes into their solos, executive chef Michael Skan isn't afraid to add his own little flourishes to classic items. He gives the fresh-made pasta dishes playful names like "Sexy Spaghettini"—which comes mixed with tiger Shrimp, grilled chicken, and a spicy cilantro olive oil—and deep fries New York-style cheesecakes. The bartenders share Chef Skan's creative flair, mixing signature martins such as the "Orgasmic Catz," an amalgamation of raspberry vodka, Cointreau, Champagne, lime, and cranberry.
Since opening as the Bonita Theatre in 1911, the city's oldest movie house has undergone numerous transformations, most recently screening Chinese and Hindi films throughout the '80s and '90s and Tamil-language films in the current millennium. Big Picture Cinema is its latest incarnation, specializing in independent and world cinema. Grinder Coffee, the theatre's next door neighbour, concocts gourmet concessions, meals, and coffee for moviegoers before they saunter down the theatre's wood-to-concrete floor and sink into one of 295 seats, lined with marine blue corduroy.
As 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound orbits the audience, 35mm and digital projectors showcase premieres of films that eschew traditional Hollywood fare, including a monthly horror film series in partnership with Fangoria Magazine and weekly Bollywood film reels discovered in the theatre basement during renovations. Local artists also showcase their work each Wednesday followed by coffee and discussion sessions with the audience, where they can ask guest moviemakers about the creative process or how to talk actors out of staying in pirate character during visits to the dentist.
Wanting to fuse Mediterranean hospitality with modern elegance, the owners of Zemra Bar Lounge took design plans into their own hands, opening their walls and stage to local artists and musicians. Subdued light bounces off red and goldenrod walls dotted with paint, highlighting the friendly wait staff as they bustle between the dining room and kitchen. Inside the culinary chemistry lab, chefs Ghandour and Brunke prepare pastas, steaks, chops, and seafood from a menu of fine Pan-Mediterranean fare. To compliment the cuisine, the chefs recommend a variety of wines or one of the bar master's signature cocktails. Events such as the open mic on Wednesdays and live music on Fridays create a festive atmosphere while reflecting the local community, their talents, penchant for creativity, and ability to whistle in Italian.