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Vancouver History Blog

The Forbidden Vancouver Blog
Theatre Under the Stars at Makin Bowl, 1954. Postcard via @Rob on Flickr.

An Illustrated History of Malkin Bowl

Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park is Vancouver’s premiere outdoor performance venue. Today it’s mainly used for Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) musical theatre productions and the Concerts in the Park series produced by Live Nation. Bands that have graced the outdoor stage include the Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, Elvis Costello, the New Pornographers, the Flaming Lips, and a Tribe Called Red.

The bandstand in Stanley Park in the 1920s that was replaced with the Malkin Bowl. City of Vancouver Archives #St Pk P277.

The bandstand in Stanley Park in the 1920s that was replaced by the Malkin Bowl. City of Vancouver Archives #St Pk P277.

Promo still for the 2017 TUTS production of Mary Poppins.

Publicity shot for the 2017 TUTS production of Mary Poppins.

TUTS has been there since 1940 and has performed too many popular musicals to list here. In 2017 they presented Mary Poppins, starring Forbidden Vancouver alumni Ranae Miller as Mary herself!

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra opening the Malkin Bowl in 1934 to a crowd of 15,000. City of Vancouver Archives #316-1.

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra opening the Malkin Bowl in 1934 to a crowd of 15,000. City of Vancouver Archives #316-1.

Souvenir program for Theatre Under The Stars, 1945. From the collection of Jason Vanderhill at Illustrated Vancouver.

Souvenir program for Theatre Under The Stars, 1945. From the collection of Jason Vanderhill at Illustrated Vancouver.

Malkin Bowl goes back to the Great Depression, when Vancouver Symphony Orchestra conductor Allard de Ridder persuaded former Vancouver mayor and wholesale grocery magnate William Malkin to finance an outdoor band shell for the city’s orchestra. Malkin agreed, and the result was the Marion Malkin Memorial Bowl, named in honour of his late wife. It opened on 8 July 1934 with a free VSO concert that attracted 15,000 people.

Memorial for King George V, 1936. Photo by WB Shelly, City of Vancouver Archives #371-45.

Memorial for King George V, 1936. Photo by WB Shelly, City of Vancouver Archives #371-45.

Originally conceived as a miniature version of the Hollywood Bowl, it has gone through some serious changes over the decades, including a major reno in 1952. A fire nearly destroyed it in 1982, but the bowl was quickly repaired and TUTS was able to continue calling it home.

TUTS performers behind the Malkin Bowl, 1942. Photo by Jack Lindsay, City of Vancouver Archives #1184-410.

TUTS performers behind the Malkin Bowl, 1942. Photo by Jack Lindsay, City of Vancouver Archives #1184-410.

In response to rumours that TUTS wanted to replace the aging Malkin Bowl with a more modern facility, Heritage Vancouver placed the venue on its 2004 and 2006 “watch lists” of endangered Vancouver heritage structures.

Theatre Under the Stars, 1944. Photo by Don Coltman, City of Vancouver Archives #586-2927.

Theatre Under the Stars, 1944. Photo by Don Coltman, City of Vancouver Archives #586-2927.

Audience on the grass for a concert, 1940s. Photo by Jack Lindsay, City of Vancouver Archives #1184-1963.

Audience on the grass for a concert, 1940s. Photo by Jack Lindsay, City of Vancouver Archives #1184-1963.

TUTS manager James Cronk said that replacing it has “never been a mandate of ours whatsoever,” and instead of demolition, the venue received a major upgrade of nearly $700,000 for general upgrades, improved security, and winterization so that it can now be used year-round as a rehearsal space.

For more Stanley Park history, come on our Secrets of Stanley Park walking tour, happening every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday through the summer.

Aerial view of Malkin Bowl, 1953. Photo by Charles Spurgeon Jones, City of Vancouver Archives #392-34.1.

Aerial view of Malkin Bowl, 1953. Photo by Charles Spurgeon Jones, City of Vancouver Archives #392-34.1.

Malkin Bowl in the 1950s. Photo by Jack Lindsay, City of Vancouver Archives #1184-3196.

Malkin Bowl in the 1950s. Photo by Jack Lindsay, City of Vancouver Archives #1184-3196.

Cover photo: Postcard of Theatre Under the Stars at Malkin Bowl, ca. 1954, via Rob on Flickr.