Discover the Los Angeles Theater Scene

Yes, there is theater in L.A.!

"1776" at the Ahmanson Theatre
"1776" at the Ahmanson Theatre | Photo: Center Theatre Group

In the shadow of LA's world-renowned movie, TV, and music industries, the city’s theater scene sometimes gets overlooked. Yet there are around 200 professional theater companies in the Los Angeles area, not even counting comedy clubs, with thousands of stage actors treading their boards.

Many Los Angeles theater companies have been around for decades, often founded by actors looking for an outlet. Most are intimate settings with less than 100 seats, meaning that L.A. theatergoers get to see top-tier performers - including familiar faces from the big and small screens - up-close and personal in classics, new productions, and musicals.

While many small theaters struggled for survival even before COVID-19, L.A.’s intimate stage scene has survived the pandemic remarkably intact. Read on for an introduction to this robust and diverse collection of theater companies, venues, and productions, spanning everything from touring Broadway smashes in grand historic landmarks to edgy, experimental obscurities staged in tiny black-box spaces.

"Love and Information" at Antaeus Theatre Company
"Love and Information" | Photo: Antaeus Theatre Company


For classic productions done right, L.A. offers theatergoers multiple options. Originally an outgrowth of the prestigious Center Theatre Group in the early 1990s, Glendale’s actor-driven Antaeus Theatre Company is a beacon of world-class classical theater in a city dominated by screen productions. After years in temporary facilities, Antaeus opened its permanent home, the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center (110 E. Broadway, Glendale 91205) in 2017. Here, you can witness some of the best stage and screen actors around in a cozy, 80-seat setting.

A Noise Within (3352 E. Foothill Blvd, Pasadena 91107) has been dubbed "one of the nation’s premier classical repertory companies" by The Huffington Post. Its resident company practices a rotating repertory model at its state-of-the-art, 324-capacity performance space, where it has consistently surpassed previous box office and attendance records since opening in 1991. Along with its critically acclaimed classical theater productions, A Noise Within runs comprehensive educational programs committed to inspiring diverse audiences of all ages.

On the Westside, Pacific Resident Theatre (703 Venice Blvd, Venice 90291) produces the great works of renowned playwrights alongside more seldom-seen classic gems. Besides its two main stages, it is also home to the PRT Cooperative, which puts on workshop productions in an experimental, black-box space - many of which are new works by playwrights in residence.


In a city known for both performing arts and the music business, it’s no surprise that musical theater is well represented. Far removed from the intimate L.A. theater movement detailed above, many of these musicals are big-budget spectaculars in large venues that host touring productions and reinterpretations of popular Broadway shows.

Audiences can experience Broadway-level production values at Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center (135 N. Grand Ave, Los Angeles 90012); the gorgeous, 2,700-capacity Pantages Theatre in the heart of Hollywood (which even bills its current season as “Broadway in Hollywood”); and La Mirada Theatre (14900 La Mirada Blvd, La Mirada 90638), located off the Golden State Freeway near the border of L.A. and Orange County.

"Transparent" musical finale
"Transparent" musical finale | Photo: Amazon Studios

One of the nation’s most influential nonprofit theatre companies, Center Theatre Group also programs subscription seasons at two more local theaters: Downtown LA's Mark Taper Forum, which mostly imports plays making the rounds of America’s regional theaters; and the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, which is dedicated to more adventurous works.

"The View Upstairs" at the Celebration Theatre
"The View Upstairs" | Photo: Celebration Theatre

Smaller L.A. venues serve as incubators for new musicals that may be destined for bigger stages and brighter lights. A prime example is the Celebration Theatre, one of America’s oldest LGBTQIA+ theaters, founded in Silver Lake in 1982 and currently performing at the Davidson/Valentini Theatre inside the Los Angeles LGBT Center in Hollywood (1118 N. McCadden Pl, Los Angeles 90038).

Elizabeth McGovern as Ava Gardner in "Ava: The Secret Conversations" at the Geffen Playhouse
Elizabeth McGovern as Ava Gardner in "Ava: The Secret Conversations" | Photo: Justin Bettman, Geffen Playhouse
"A Little Night Music" at the Pasadena Playhouse
"A Little Night Music" | Photo: Pasadena Playhouse

Also in Tinseltown, Sacred Fools Theatre (1076 Lillian Way, Los Angeles 90038) – founded in actor John Sylvain’s Santa Monica living room in 1997 – has premiered works that later transferred to much larger local venues, such as the UCLA-owned Geffen Playhouse in Westwood Village (10886 Le Conte Ave, Los Angeles 90024); and the Spanish Revival-style Pasadena Playhouse (39 S. El Molino Ave, Pasadena 91101), recognized as the Official State Theater of California in 1937 and one of the region’s most architecturally beautiful theater spaces.

Independent Shakespeare Co. "Twelfth Night" at the Old Zoo
"Twelfth Night" | Photo: Independent Shakespeare Co., Facebook

Classics and New Plays

Serving up a mix of classics and new/new-ish plays, the Fountain Theatre in East Hollywood (5060 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles 90029) is a tiny theater committed to fastidious artistry. The Fountain has done breathtaking productions of plays by Tennessee Williams, adaptations of works by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and premiered plays by Athol Fugard (Exits and Entrances) and their own artistic director Stephen Sachs (Bakersfield Mist), which made its way to London’s West End with Kathleen Turner.

If you’re in L.A. during the summer and fancy a witty, accessible interpretation of a Shakespeare classic, head to bucolic Griffith Park for the Independent Shakespeare Company’s annual free Shakespeare Festival (registration through their website required). These are evening performances and it can get chilly in the park after dark, so check the weather forecast and dress in layers. Picnic blankets and low beach chairs (legs shorter than 3 inches, out of consideration to audience members around you) are welcome, as are picnic dinners, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages. Since 2011, Independent Shakespeare Company has also operated a super-intimate, year-round space at the nearby Atwater Crossing Complex in Atwater Village.

"La Egoista" at Skylight Theatre Company
"La Egoista" | Photo: Skylight Theatre Company

For solidly-produced new plays with thought-provoking angles on society and culture, Hollywood’s Rogue Machine (7657 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles 90046) is a must. Works by the company’s playwright-in-residence, John Pollono (Small Engine Repair) have migrated successfully to off-Broadway. Top-tier takes on new works can also be found at the Echo Theater Company in Atwater Village (3269 Casitas Ave, Los Angeles 90039), which has presented nearly 50 world premieres; and at Skylight Theatre Company in Los Feliz (1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles 90027), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary season and was declared a "powerhouse of new play development" by The Dramatist magazine.

If you're looking for plays that are already in the new-play pipeline across the country, Boston Court Pasadena (70 N. Mentor Ave, Pasadena 91106) is another small but up-to-date and technically masterful venue that stages innovative and diverse works inviting us to view the world from refreshingly unconventional angles.

"Yaacobi & Leidental" at Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
"Yaacobi & Leidental" | Photo: Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

Founded by a collective of actors in 1969, West L.A.’s Odyssey Theatre Ensemble (2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles 90025) is one of the granddaddies of the local intimate theater scene. It comprises three unique, up-close 99-seat theaters that host not only theater productions but also dance, concerts, films shoots, and events. The Odyssey’s sometime partner, The New American Theatre (1312 N Wilton Pl, Hollywood 90028), presents classic plays with imaginative contemporary twists, such as Macbeth: Revisited, a gender-bending re-telling of the Bard’s seminal tragedy.

"Whittier Boulevard" at Latino Theatre Company
"Whittier Boulevard" | Photo: Latino Theatre Company

Located in the heart of Downtown LA, the Latino Theatre Company manages the Los Angeles Theatre Center for the City of Los Angeles (514 S. Spring St, 2nd Fl, Los Angeles 90013). As the cornerstone tenant of this five-theater complex inside a repurposed bank building, the Latino Theatre Company has provided both a world-class arts center and a laboratory where theatrical tradition and innovation are honored and honed since 1985. Dedicated to serving the Latina/o/x community while also reflecting the diverse cultural experiences of LA, its recent highlights include many critically-acclaimed and award-winning productions, two three-week-long theater festivals, and free touring productions staged in underserved communities.

"Amor a la Muerte" at REDCAT
"Amor a la Muerte" | Photo: REDCAT

Los Angeles also boasts a number of excellent presenting organizations offering Broadway touring productions, concerts, dance, and comedy specials.

Tucked inside Walt Disney Concert Hall, REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney Cal-Arts Theatre) presents dance, performance, experimental music and visual arts, including routinely hosting New York’s edgy Wooster Group theater company, with a focus on developing new works.

The eclectic programming of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills 90210) has been nominated for 48 Ovation Awards and seven L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards in just a decade of existence.

Over at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, the 538-capacity BroadStage (1310 11th St, Santa Monica 90401) programs mostly musical offerings, but also some theater, and is designed to allow eye contact with artists all the way to the back row. In addition to BroadStage, the facility features The Edye, a 100-seat black-box theater that hosts new, developing, and innovative theatre, music, dance, and more.

"Voices From Ukraine" at City Garage Theatre
"Voices From Ukraine" | Photo: City Garage Theatre

Experimental Theaters

Located at Bergamot Station, the company behind City Garage (T1 Space, 2525 Michigan Ave, Santa Monica 90404) dates back to 1987, when it was founded by artistic director Frédérique Michel and producing director Charles Duncombe. It’s been producing innovative, award-winning theater ever since, including new works and U.S. premieres, with a penchant for heady, ruminative works both domestic and European, often with a political bent.

City Garage’s spiritual cousin, Son of Semele, lost its Silver Lake home of 18 years in 2021 due to a change of landlord, but continues to produce cryptic, surreal, poetic, and visually arresting performances, most recently a work-in-progress presentation of Matthew McCray’s documentary-play about the war in Ukraine, Special Military Operation, staged at the Skylight Theatre on Vermont Avenue (see above).


This is just a cross-section of the vibrant and diverse Los Angeles theater landscape, where you can witness future Broadway hits in the making and time-honored vintage classics dating all the way back to Shakespeare – both in the same weekend. "Break a leg!"

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