The singing Mounties, parka-clad damsels and lumberjacks welcome you to Niagara Falls!
Ranking somewhere just below the falls themselves in popularity with tourists, the Oh Canada Eh? Dinner Show has been wildly successful since its opening 25 years ago, in 1994.
Who knew that serving a great meal in a giant log cabin setting, while Anne of Green Gables, maybe a hockey player or two and any number of other Canadian icons sings, dances and cracks jokes on stage – and then serves the meals – would be such a winning combination?
That it has been, is beyond question. It’s a genuine Canadian success story.
A quarter-century ago, though, it didn’t open its doors with a splash, but more of a whisper. It was originally located on Clifton Hill and found a tough time competing with the wax museums and ice cream shops in those days before there were even any casinos in Niagara Falls.
It built its reputation the hard way, through word of mouth, and eventually moved to its current home at the west end of Lundy’s Lane.
The opening of the first casino in the late 1990s forced all of Niagara Falls’ tourism community to up its game, and it responded. New, state of the art attractions and restaurants popped up almost weekly, it seemed at the time and investors poured millions and millions of dollars into the city.
Oh Canada Eh? followed suit moved to Lundy’s Lane and concentrated on improving its marketing to spread the word about shows that audiences loved.
Word of mouth went worldwide and the theatre’s reputation grew as more and more travellers learned of it. The summer show was wildly successful.
Running from April through October, it features all the singing and dancing, set to music by iconic Canadian singers and musicians like Paul Anka, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, the Barenaked Ladies, Justin Bieber and Avril Lavigne.
Then somewhere along the way, a wholly unexpected turn happened – another of its shows, its production of The Rocky Horror Show at Halloween, became a classic.
Now, every year fans look forward to dressing up for the show as Brad, Janet, Dr. Frank N Furter or one of the other zany characters and dancing and singing along to songs like The Time Warp and Dammit Janet.
Then at Christmas, there is the Jump, Jive and Jingle production – more seasonal Canadian comedy and Christmas songs, with a great meal.
Also on schedule are The Show Must Go On, which features classics from the 1960s and 70s by Queen, Pink Floyd, the Jackson 5, Simon and Garfunkel and Jefferson Airplane, and in the spring it is Broadway Show Stoppers featuring well-loved songs from plays like Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and Crazy For You.
According to Niagara This Week, the theatre expects to draw 40,000 visitors this year and there are more than 250 shows scheduled for 2018.
This year, the show’s script went in for a full overhaul but the music kept its roots in Canada, spotlighting traditional songs as well as current hits by Canadians like Justin Bieber.
Oh Canada Eh has won some prestigious awards in its time, too, and is a 2018 TripAdvisor hall of fame inductee.