Looking for information about your favourite theatres? We’ve got you covered! Intermission’s Insider Intel articles showcase one theatre at a time to give you all the information you need before your visit.
This week: Young People’s Theatre
What kind of theatre do they produce?
Young People’s Theatre (YPT) is Canada’s largest and oldest professional theatre for young people. The company produces and presents a full season of theatre and arts education programming, serving approximately 150,000 patrons annually. Since 1966, YPT has staged many of the most important plays that form the canon of work for youth in our country. Sometimes people presume that YPT casts children in its productions. In reality, the company hires professional actors to perform in all of its shows, 99% of whom are adults. Over the past 50 years, some of the biggest names in Canadian theatre have graced its Mainstage.
YPT continues to develop new work and create partnerships with theatre companies across the country and around the world. But that’s not all: the enriched learning experiences of YPT’s Education and Participation Department provide young people with opportunities to develop their whole being.
YPT is located on Front Street, two blocks east of Jarvis Street, right between the historic Distillery District to the east and the St. Lawrence Market to the west. In addition to the theatre on Front Street, YPT recently opened a brand new education centre — YPT 161 Studios — just across the road at 161 Frederick Street.
The theatre is accessible from the Bloor subway line by exiting at the Sherbourne Station and taking the Sherbourne bus south to Front Street. You can also find the theatre from the Yonge line by exiting at King Station and taking the King Streetcar east to Sherbourne Street, or exiting at Union Station and walking six blocks east on Front Street. There are a few public parking lots nearby.
In September 2022, YPT officially re-opened its doors to reveal a transformed company. More than 10 years in the making, YPT’s $13.5 million Room for Imagination expansion project included both renovations at its 123-year-old Heritage venue, as well as a brand new facility across the street at 161 Frederick Street: YPT 161 Studios. YPT now anchors the corner of Front and Frederick streets in downtown Toronto with two buildings united in vision, creating Canada’s largest state-of-the-art theatre complex for young people.
With the purchase of a multi-use building across the street from its historic theatre, YPT 161 Studios, YPT has expanded its footprint, increased its accessibility, refreshed its lobbies, and upgraded the theatrical equipment capabilities of its 450-seat Ada Slaight Stage and 115-seat Studio.
For rental details and availability, please visit YPT’s venues and rentals page.
History of 165 Front Street
YPT moved into the Heritage building at 165 Front Street in the fall of 1977. This new, permanent home once housed the horses that pulled the Toronto Street Railway Company’s streetcars in the late 19th century. When the horses were retired in favour of electric power in 1891, the building became an electrical generating plant and remained that until 1906 when the company began purchasing power from Niagara Falls. In later years, the Toronto Transit Commission used the building as a warehouse before leaving it to sit empty and marked for demolition for years.
Before YPT moved in, Zeidler Partnership Architects renovated the existing building and the interior space was converted into a main theatre and a smaller studio space. The Toronto Historical Board awarded YPT the Award of Merit for its imaginative and sympathetic treatment of a landmark that might otherwise have been destroyed. Over the years, the St. Lawrence development grew up around the new theatre, and the theatre found itself in the heart of a distinctive and vibrant family neighbourhood.
To find out more about YPT’s expansion project, visit their website.
COVID-19 Safety Information
YPT’s stage productions and Drama School do not require proof of vaccination for audience members/students. Masking for patrons is encouraged, but not required.
YPT encourages the use of mobility equipment whenever necessary to improve access to its services and programs. A ramp is located just east of the main entrance of YPT at 165 Front Street East.
YPT’s Ada Slaight Stage has increased its number of accessible spaces to accommodate patrons with mobility devices. The Studio Theatre on the third floor accommodates up to two patrons with full-sized mobility devices, and is accessed via an elevator taking patrons to the rear entrance of the auditorium. An accessible washroom is located beside the Box Office for pre-show, and all-gender washrooms on our second floor for during the show. For performances in the Studio Theatre, an accessible washroom is also available on the third floor.
In addition, YPT offers a number of accessible performances throughout its season, including Relaxed Performances, ASL Interpreted Performances, Audio Described Performances and more.
To learn more about YPT’s accessibility policies, visit the Accessibility page on their website. After booking your ticket, if you require: an accessible seat; assistance entering the theatre, the elevator, or the Ada Slaight Stage; or more information about YPT’s access support services, please call YPT’s Patron Services Staff at (416) 862-2222 x2.
This season, tickets range from $10 to $54, depending on the production and seating arrangements. YPT is a registered children’s charity, and its show tickets are subsidized.
The company offers the following ways to save: SuperSaver Seating (a limited number of Mezzanine seats available for select Mainstage performances for just $10 each); First Saturday Savings (special prices apply to the first Saturday performance of selected Mainstage productions); and Pay What You Can Performances (PWYC). YPT has a minimum of one PWYC performance for each production in the season: tickets are available in person at the Box Office from 10:00 a.m. on the day of the performance only. There is a maximum four tickets per person, suggested contribution $10 each.
To purchase tickets to your next YPT show,, or to find out more about ticket pricing, visit the YPT website or call the Box Office at (416) 862-2222.
Artists You Might Recognize
- Amanda Cordner — starred in Snow White (2022)
- Paul Sun-Hyung Lee — starred in Monster Under the Bed (2010)
- Vanessa Sears — starred in Mary Poppins (2018)
- Louise Pitre — starred in A Year with Frog and Toad (2011)
- Corrine Koslo — starred in Seussical (2007) and Bunnicula (2006)
- Nina Lee Aquino — directed James and the Giant Peach (2017) and Sultans of the Street (2014)
- Kiefer Sutherland — Drama School alumnus
- Drake — Drama School alumnus
- Sheila McCarthy — Director of The Adventures of Pinocchio (2019), starred in Really Rosie (1983)
- Eli Wallach — starred in The Diary of Anne Frank (1977)
Workshops and Classes
YPT’s Drama School is the largest theatre school in Canada providing drama classes for babies, toddlers, and youth in three different locations throughout the GTA: YPT 161 Studios, Etobicoke, and North York. It’s a place for young people to explore their interest in theatre, mentored by professional and experienced artists. The Drama School offers year-round programming celebrating all abilities and levels, offering kids and youth the opportunity to discover the power of their own voice and gain confidence, self-esteem, and self-awareness while making new friends and having fun! From weekly classes to full-day camps, the school — now in its 53rd year — embodies the theatre’s vision: to have a positive impact on the emotional, social, and intellectual development of young people.
For young writers, YPT offers Three Up — an international playwriting program for ages 13-18.
For Schools, YPT offers companion workshops for all productions, as well as Indigenous Artists in Schools — a new program in which teachers and students learn about Indigenous culture directly from Indigenous artist educators.
To discover more about YPT’s drama school, visit their website, or email YPTDramaSchool@youngpeoplestheatre.org to arrange a meeting with your child’s new teacher; and for more information about booking a school visit to a YPT show, visit their show enrichment page.
Where to Eat and Drink
Patrons can enjoy a selection of beverages and snacks, including gourmet-roasted coffee and hand-crafted cookies, at YPT’s concessions. Brand new tumblers are available for purchase (or patrons can bring your own — with a lid!) and enjoy their beverage at their seat.
A TRUE STORY
When a child’s suitcase arrives at the tiny Children’s Holocaust Centre in Tokyo, the curator embarks on an extraordinary journey to uncover the story of Hana and her fate at the hands of the Nazis.
Originally a radio documentary and then an international best-selling book, Hana's Suitcase premiered at YPT in 2005 with two of its real-life protagonists in attendance: George Brady and Fumiko Ishioka. The production was remounted in 2007, 2010, and 2015 due to overwhelming audience demand, and included tours to Montreal’s Geordie Productions and Seattle Children’s Theater. Jean Yoon (Kim’s Convenience) originated the role of Fumiko Ishioka in 2005.
Set & Costume Design by Teresa Przybylski; Lighting Design by Andrea Lundy; Image by Cylla von Tiedemann, courtesy of Young People's Theatre
DORA AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ORIGINAL CHOREOGRAPHY — KERRY GAGE
Jane and Michael’s father insists upon precision and order in their household. But when the children write their own advertisement for a nanny their dreams are answered with the practically-perfect Mary Poppins! The entire Banks Family learns a great deal about each other through Mary who has the uncanny ability to turn everything upside down and, miraculously, just right.
Directed by Thom Allison and starring Vanessa Sears as the beloved nanny, the 2018 production of Mary Poppins broke all sales records in YPT’s history.
Set Design by Brandon Kleiman; Costume Design by William Layton; Lighting Design by Jason Hand; Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann, courtesy of Young People's Theatre
DORA AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING NEW PLAY (TYA) & OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE — ENSEMBLE
The first party of the school year comes packed with expectations. It’s a time to renew old friendships and perhaps find new love. But what happens when an incident shatters the connections between three friends? Teenage relationships are complicated enough — especially when you add the reckless power of social media. Incisive and witty, Selfie is a powerful reflection on sexual consent, failed communication and self-promotion in this era of Instagram.
Playwright Christine Quintana’s Selfie received the Sydney Risk Prize for Outstanding Script by an Emerging Playwright. Christine also received the 2017 Siminovitch Protégé Prize for Playwriting.
Scenographv by Claire Allison Hill; Projection Design by Daniel Oulton; Lighting Design by Oz Weaver; and Sound Design by Deanna H. Choi. Photo by Ali Sultana, courtesy of Young People's Theatre
Sultans of the Street
A WORLD PREMIERE | 5 DORA AWARDS FOR OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION (TYA), OUTSTANDING NEW PLAY (TYA) — ANUSREE ROY, OUTSTANDING DIRECTION (TYA) — NINA LEE AQUINO, OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE — ENSEMBLE, & OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE — COLIN DOYLE
Four children from different social classes — two with the desire to purchase better kites, two with the simple wish to attend school Four children from different social classes — two with the desire to purchase better kites, two with the simple wish to attend school — are trapped in a world of begging on the streets of Kolkata, India. Dressed as gods they bless the generous and threaten to curse those who are not. Together, the quartet must work to escape servitude to the mysterious “Aunty” and set a course for a new life.
Set & Costume Design by Camellia Koo; Lighting Design by Michelle Ramsay. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann, courtesy of Young People's Theatre
Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang
YPT'S MOST PRODUCED SHOW | MULTI-DORAAWARD WINNER
Jacob is certain no one ever listens to him, especially his two older brothers, his two older sisters, and even his two distracted parents, so he develops the habit of saying everything twice. Jacob's trademark repetitiveness eventually lands him afoul of the law and into the fantastical children's court of Mr. Justice Rough. Sentenced to hard time on foggy, snake-infested Slimer's Island, Jacob falls under the menacing eye of dreaded warden The Hooded Fang and must plot his escape with the help of a heroic squad of older children known as Child Power!
Set Design by Dana Osborne; Costume Design by William Schmuck; Lighting Design by Jason Hand; Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann, courtesy of Young People's Theatre