A Musical Gem in the Heart of the City
As so many clubs closed for good during and post the Covid 19 pandemic, the Biltmore Theatre, in contrast, opened. The 536-capacity club at 39 King St. East in downtown Oshawa continues to thrive
with a litany of sold-out shows, among them David Wilcox, Big Wreck, Kim Mitchell, Crown Lands, The Trews, Matthew Good, illScarlett, Sloan, and Sean McCann. The club has a seated capacity of 260.
Before we get to the history and unique decor of the theatre, one should note the one thing that really matters in a live venue is the quality of the sound, and let me tell you, the sound at the Biltmore Theatre lives up to the billing.
General Manager, Jacob Haymada, no stranger to a soundboard, says they shopped locally for their front-of-house speakers.
“We use an Adamson PA, which is manufactured in Port Perry, for our front-of-house speakers, but the
rest of our audio, lighting and video system are all different brands and makes to meet national touring standards,” he says.
And now to the decor, which is what makes the place such a gem. If I may editorialize here, literally everyone I have ever been with at the Biltmore comments favourably on the stunning statuary, including two massive gold urns on each side of the stage, side lamps, chandeliers, seating, and layout. And all of it is offset by Garnet Red Austrian floor-to-ceiling drapes. It is such a plush environment within which to experience music.
There are two VIP wings on the tiered mezzanine level with a bar at the back wall, all offering sightlines on the stage. It is up here where the Biltmore becomes a time machine bringing one sideways to a place one imagines Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra or Kenny Rogers’ ‘The Gambler’ to be right at home sitting at the round tables jawing. The triangular bar is one of the best bars to sit at, it has a hotel bar feel, and there is even a piano to lounge over.
The touch of genius came from the late owner Julius Kedvessy and his collection of art deco objects d’art. Tragically Julius passed away in September 2021 before the club could open. Fortunately, his daughter Diana Cerovich has taken up the mantle, and under her guiding hand, her dad’s dream has become a reality.
Along with the inside makeover, Kedvessy’s vision also included restoring the building to its former glory, beginning with returning the venue to its original name. Oshawa’s Biltmore Theatre was commissioned and built by the Okum Brothers of Toronto, who made their fortune selling hats under the Biltmore name. It was one of five in their chain (Kingston, Kitchener, Toronto, and Sault Ste Marie were the other locations) and was designed by the architectural company Webb, Blythe and Sproule in the Art Deco style with seating for 699. It was the smallest in the chain and operated as a “B” movie theatre. In the 1960s, the Biltmore closed and reopened as the Odeon before closing its doors in 1989. From then on, the building became a series of nightclubs and music venues, leading us to today with the heritage and history of the building recognized and restored by one visionary and guided into the future by another.