Toronto Birthplace of Camelot Will Be Spruced Up and Renamed Sony Center

News   Toronto Birthplace of Camelot Will Be Spruced Up and Renamed Sony Center The Hummingbird Centre in Toronto will be renamed the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts and will undergo a complete interior renovation commencing June 2008, the venue's board and Sony Canada announced Sept. 7.

The theatre, which opened as the O'Keefe Centre in 1960 with the pre-Broadway tryout of Camelot, attracts over 400,000 patrons per year.

This $10 million, 20-year title sponsorship "will re-energize the entertainment venue with aesthetic improvements and technical upgrades, all while maintaining the heritage of the Toronto landmark," according to the partners.

When completed, the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts "will be transformed into a state-of-the-art, versatile, multimedia theatre and concert venue. The 47-year-old historic building will be outfitted with the most technically advanced audio and video Sony products that offer the ultimate entertainment experience."

Renowned architect Daniel Libeskind will redesign the complex, which includes "two key concepts": the creation of a $75 million "Arts & Heritage Awareness Centre" (the AHA! Centre) and above it, the 47-story residential L Tower.

* In 1954, philanthropist, horse breeder, and developer E.P. Taylor, the head of the O'Keefe Brewing Company and Argus Corporation, offered to build a much-needed performing arts centre for the city. On Oct. 1, 1960, the complex, which became known as the O'Keefe Centre, opened with the pre-Broadway premiere of Alexander H. Cohen's production of the Lerner and Loewe musical Camelot with Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet.

In 1967 the building and land were sold to the City of Toronto and in 1996 the facility was renamed The Hummingbird Centre after the naming rights were purchased by the Canadian software company Hummingbird Ltd.

The auditorium was designed to serve a wide range of performing arts, and has seen such artists as Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Yul Brynner, Carol Channing, Pearl Bailey, Petula Clark, Duke Ellington, Marlene Dietrich, Diana Ross, Shirley MacLaine, Judy Garland, Sammy Davis Jr., Liza Minnelli, Liberace, Placido Domingo, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Vivien Leigh, Christopher Plummer, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and Michael York.