The Best Los Angeles Theatre Productions in 2018

Broadway musicals, world premieres, Jeremy Irons & "Hair" 50th anniversary

"Come From Away" at the Ahmanson Theatre | Photo courtesy of Centre Theatre Group

Home to more than 250 theatre companies, Los Angeles is truly a mecca for theatre lovers. Every night, there are productions across the city taking place on stages large and small, featuring award-winning actors alongside rising local stars. From world premieres to the L.A. stage debut of Jeremy Irons to the 50th anniversary of Hair and much more, read on for highlights of must-see L.A. theatre productions in 2018.

Ahmanson Theatre | Photo: By Ryan Miller for Center Theatre Group 

The Music Center's Ahmanson Theatre

The Ahmanson Theatre showcases the plays and musicals that everyone has been talking about or will be talking about. At the Ahmanson, Center Theatre Group produces and presents pre-Broadway runs as well as the best of Broadway and the West End.

What begins as a contemporary comedy explodes into a futuristic Chinese musical in this time-bending, genre-busting World Premiere play (with a musical) from Tony Award® winner David Henry Hwang (Yellow Face, M. Butterfly). Inspired by the West's often ridiculously inauthentic portrayals of Asia, Soft Power (May 3 - June 10) is a Center Theatre Group commission and the first collaboration between two of America's great theatre artists: Hwang and Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home).

Stephen Karam’s The Humans (June 18 - July 29) is an uproarious, hopeful, and heartbreaking play that takes place over the course of a family dinner on Thanksgiving. This new American classic that won the 2016 Tony Award® for Best Play.

Named "the greatest R&B group of all time" by Billboard Magazine, The Temptations rose to the top of the charts with their signature dance moves and unmistakable harmonies, creating an amazing 42 Top Ten Hits with 14 reaching number one. Ain't Too Proud: The Life & Times of The Temptations (Aug. 21 - Sept. 30) is an electrifying new musical about the legendary group, featuring iconic hits such as "My Girl," "Just My Imagination," "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," and many more.

The winner of six Tony Awards® including Best Musical, Dear Evan Hansen (Oct. 17 - Nov. 15) is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it. Dear Evan Hansen features a book by Tony Award winner Steven Levenson, a score by Tony Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and direction by four-time Tony Award nominee Michael Greif.

"On 9/11, the world stopped. On 9/12, their stories moved us all." Come From Away (Nov. 28, 2018 - Jan. 6, 2019) takes you into the heart of the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships.

Mark Taper Forum
Mark Taper Forum | Photo: by Tom Bonner for Center Theatre Group

Mark Taper Forum - LACO 50th Anniversary (April 14, 2018)

Located at The Music Center in Downtown L.A., the Mark Taper Forum provokes conversations with world premiere plays, second productions, and revivals of important works. After celebrating its 50th anniversary season in 2017-18, the Mark Taper will be announcing its 51st season soon.

On April 14, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) returns to its original home at The Music Center's Mark Taper Forum to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The annual gala concert will feature performances by Sir Neville Marriner's son and London Symphony Orchestra principal clarinetist Andrew Marriner and starlet Rumer Willis. The gala's concert program includes Mozart’s timeless Clarinet Concerto, Prokofiev's "Classical" Symphony and Songs from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Black tie preferred.

Pink Chair
Pink Chair | Photo: REDCAT, Facebook


Located at the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theatre (REDCAT) is a multidisciplinary center for innovative visual, performing and media arts. 

The Wooster Group weaves together live performance, music, and video in an encounter with the work of visionary Polish artist, writer and stage director Tadeusz Kantor (1915-1990). A PINK CHAIR (In Place of a Fake Antique) (April 5-15) takes the form of a conversation between The Wooster Group and Kantor's daughter, Dorota Krakowska.

Emmett “Bobo” Till, a 14-year-old Chicago youth, walked into a store in Money, Mississippi to buy bubble gum from Carolyn Bryant, a 21-year-old, white mother of two. Days later, Till’s body was found in a shallow part of the Tallahatchie River. What happened in those fateful minutes inside the store? Created by Nataki Garrett and Andrea LeBlanc, The Carolyn Bryant Project (May 17-20) layers historical transcripts, video imagery, and re-imagined encounters to expose what lies beneath the exchange between Bryant and Till in 1955.

Palace Theatre stage
Palace Theatre | Photo: by Downtown Palace, Facebook 

Palace Theatre - "Hair" 50th Anniversary (April 20 - June 30, 2018)

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hair, which opened on Broadway in 1968, a new production of the landmark musical will launch a national tour in April 2018. Produced by Michael Butler, who also produced the 1968 and 1977 Broadway productions of Hair, performances of "The American Tribal Love Rock Musical" are scheduled for April 20–June 30 at the newly renovated Palace Theatre in the historic Broadway Theatre District. Michael Arabian directs the new production, which will have a new, revised book written by original writer-lyricist James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. “The timing of this revival could not be better, as we are experiencing once again social activism very much like the '60s," said Arabian. "Fighting for human rights, love and peace, pro-environment, anti-war, freedom of religion, race and gender equality—all proving that the themes of Hair are still relevant." Arabian continued, “There will be a ‘Happening’ outside of the theatre before the show, with displays and representatives from many progressive organizations. The show will have a new staging, using period TV broadcasts and images from the '60s combined with the state-of-the-art projection technology of today.”

Hollywood Pantages Theatre
Hollywood Pantages Theatre | Photo: Hollywood Pantages, Facebook

Hollywood Pantages Theatre

Located at the iconic intersection of Hollywood and Vine, the stunning Hollywood Pantages Theatre opened in June 1930 and is renowned for presenting spectacular Broadway productions.

The ultimate love story continues in Love Never Dies (April 3-22), Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. This story of boundless love, full of passion and drama, follows one of the most successful musicals of all time, which has now been seen by more than 130 million people worldwide and is the winner of over 50 international awards.

STOMP (April 24-29) is explosive, provocative, sophisticated, sexy, utterly unique and appeals to audiences of all ages. The return of the percussive hit also brings some surprises, with sections of the show now updated and restructured, plus two new full-scale routines, utilizing props like tractor tire inner tubes and paint cans.

Based on the hit film, School of Rock (May 3-27) follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher who turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. This high-octane smash features 14 new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber, all the original songs from the movie, and musical theatre’s first-ever kids rock band playing their instruments live on stage.

The 2016 Tony Award® winner for Best Musical Revival, The Color Purple (May 29 - June 17) has been hailed as “a direct hit to the heart” by The Hollywood Reporter. Directed by Tony winner John Doyle with a soul-raising score of jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues, this joyous American classic is a stunning re-imagining of an epic story about a young woman’s journey to love and triumph in the American South.

Upcoming productions include Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (June 19-24), On Your Feet! (July 6-29), Waitress (August 2-26), Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Sept. 12-30), A Bronx Tale (Nov. 6-25), and Wicked, opening Nov. 28.

Geffen Playhouse
Geffen Playhouse | Photo: by Geffen Playhouse, Facebook

Geffen Playhouse

The Geffen Playhouse in Westwood Village has been a hub of the L.A. theatre scene since opening its doors in 1995. In her new solo show Sell/Buy/Date (Feb. 27 - April 15), Tony Award-winning writer/performer Sarah Jones brings to life an entire cast of characters, all of whom have something to say about gender, sex, work and the time in which we are living. In the smash hit comedy Significant Other (April 3 - May 6) from Bad Jews writer Joshua Harmon, twenty-something Jordan is the life of the wedding party, until it dawns on him that he is "always a groomsman, never the groom." The season also includes Fat Pig (May 16 - June 24), Skeleton Crew (June 5 - July 8), and Our Very Own Carlin McCullough (June 19 - July 29) in the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater.

The Broad Stage
The Broad Stage | Photo: The Broad Stage, Facebook

The Broad Stage

Renowned as "an artist’s dream and an audience’s delight," The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center opened its doors in October 2008. Theatre highlights of the tenth anniversary season include Bedlam: Hamlet + Saint Joan (April 5-15), featuring unique on-stage seating options; and shows by Impro Theatre: Shakespeare Unscripted (April 20-22), Dorothy Parker Unscripted (May 18-20) and Tennessee Williams Unscripted (June 15-17);   

Kirk Douglas Theatre
Kirk Douglas Theatre | Photo: by Craig Schwartz for the Center Theatre Group 

Kirk Douglas Theatre

Located in Downtown Culver City, the Kirk Douglas Theatre is Center Theatre Group's home for adventurous new work. Taking place March 29 to May 20, the second annual Center Theatre Group Block Party is a showcase for exceptional new theatre from the past year that you may not even know you missed. To celebrate all that L.A.’s acclaimed theatre scene has to offer, the Douglas will once again present encore productions from three outstanding local companies.

Brought to you by an award-winning team of Los Angeles artists, Mutt House: The Musical (July 10 - Aug. 5, 2018) is a world premiere feel-good family musical in the tradition of Annie and Little Shop of Horrors.

El Portal Theatre in the NoHo Arts District
Photo: El Portal Theatre, Facebook

El Portal Theatre

Built in 1926, the historic El Portal Theatre is a performing arts complex located in the heart of the NoHo Arts District, featuring the 360 Debbie Reynolds MainStage, 96-Seat Monroe Forum and Stuart Roger’s 42-Seat Theatre Tribe. Upcoming highlights include All Shook Up (April 13-22) featuring the songs of Elvis Presley in this musical about a mysterious, leather-jacketed stranger who shakes up a small Midwestern town in the 1950s; and The Amazing Acrocats (May 10-13) an all-cat performing troupe featuring the world's only all-cat band, Tuna and the Rock Cats!

Pasadena Playhouse
Pasadena Playhouse | Photo courtesy of Pasadena Playhouse

Pasadena Playhouse

The Pasadena Playhouse was established in 1917 and is the Official State Theatre of California. Twenty years after their searing hit Bordertown premiered, the Playhouse sends L.A.’s very own Culture Clash back to the border to investigate. Re-imagined, remixed and fully reloaded, Bordertown Now  (May 30 - June 24) is an irreverent, hilarious exploration of the regions and people at the center of one of America’s most hot-button and controversial issues.