17 More Regional Houses Every Theatre Lover Should Know

Lists   17 More Regional Houses Every Theatre Lover Should Know
 
From Seattle’s Intiman to Connecticut’s Yale Repertory Theatre, these houses produce groundbreaking works across the U.S.
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Earlier this year, we brought you 20 regional houses that every theatre lover must know, but any true theatre lover knows there are more than 20 regional houses that should be on your radar. In that spirit, we’ve got 17 more regional houses for you to track. Plan your visit now!

WEST COAST

5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington
With a self-appointed mission to nurture, advance, and preserve the musical theatre, Seattle’s 5th Avenue is known for professional Broadway-quality productions. This reputation has made them a frequent choice for producers seeking a regional home to develop Broadway-bound musicals. 5th Avenue premiered such shows as Hairspray, Shrek the Musical, and, most recently, Aladdin. They are set to present the new Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty musical Little Dancer beginning March 2019.

Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles, California
With three venues, Center Theatre Group (CTG) is one of the largest regional producing companies in the United States; their total annual audience numbers exceed 750,000. CTG both presents its own productions and plays host to national tours. CTG is also a popular destination for developing musicals. Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang’s new musical Soft Power premiered at CTG’s Ahmanson earlier this year, and the new jukebox musical featuring the songs of The Temptations, Ain’t Too Proud, is scheduled to begin performances August 2018.

Intiman Theatre in Seattle, Washington
The mission of the Intiman Theatre is to wrestle with American inequities, an effort the institution backed up in 2017 when they hired Phillip Chavira as executive director. A Tony-nominated producer of Eclipsed on Broadway, Chavira is the first person of color to lead the Intiman. Recent productions included Taylor Mac’s Hir and Allison Gregory’s Wild Horses. The theatre won the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2006, fresh off the Broadway success of The Light in the Piazza, which had its world premiere at the Intiman. Fun fact: Resident director of Lincoln Center Theater Bartlett Sher—who directed Piazza—is a former artistic director of the Intiman.

American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, California
American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) was founded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1965 as a repertory company and acting conservatory—the original 27-actor company included future Tony winner René Auberjonois (Coco, City of Angels), future Tony nominee Ruth Kobart(...Forum), and Charles Siebert (The Changing Room). After touring the country in that inaugural season, the company sought a permanent home and settled in San Francisco; A.C.T. has been based there ever since. In the late 1960s, they became the first theatre to use the title “sound designer” for the position on the technical/creative team we know today. The usage of the job title then trickled down to the film world after Francis Ford Coppola directed A.C.T.’s production of Private Lives while editing his 1972 film The Godfather. Now headed up by Tony-winning director Pam MacKinnon as their artistic director, A.C.T. recently produced well-received productions of Vietgone, Heisenberg, and Father Comes Home From the Wars, along with producing the world premiere of the new musical A Walk on the Moon. They received the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1979.


MIDWEST

Cleveland Play House in Cleveland, Ohio
Founded in 1915, the Cleveland Play House holds the distinction of being America’s first professional regional theatre. In a time where theatre was primarily melodrama and vaudeville, Cleveland Playhouse emerged as a destination for theatre presented specifically as art. More than a century later, the Play House is running strong, with Alan Alda, Joel Grey, and Austin Pendleton all sitting on the Board of Directors. Their upcoming season, beginning September 2018, will include productions of The Seagull, Sweat, A Christmas Story, Hay Fever and more. Cleveland Playhouse was awarded the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2015, their centennial year.

Denver Center for the Performing Arts in Denver, Colorado
If you’re really into seeing new Disney musicals as soon as possible, you might need to get yourself to Denver. Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA), a large theatrical complex with multiple venues and its own theatre company, held the world premieres of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Frozen, both of which transferred to Broadway immediately after trying out in Denver. DCPA has also become a popular spot to launch national tours, having served as the inaugural stop for tours of The Lion King, Sunset Boulevard, August: Osage County, and Hello, Dolly!. The Denver Center Theatre Company also produces original productions, including the upcoming 75th anniversary all-black production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, a new production of The Whistleblower by The Band’s Visit Tony-winning book writer Itamar Moses, and Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer-winning Sweat. The company won the Regional Theatre Tony in 1998.

Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas
Founded in 1947, the Alley Theatre is one of the country’s oldest regional theatres. Offering both new productions of existing works along with several notable world premieres (such as Frank Wildhorn’s Jekyll & Hyde and The Civil War, Tennessee William’s Not About Nightingales, and, more recently, Rajiv Joseph’s Describe the Night). In 2017, the Alley sadly incurred severe damages during Hurricane Harvey, with their basement Neuhaus Theatre taking on 17 feet of water leaving their extensive prop storage completely destroyed. But the Alley was resilient: performances resumed just a few months later with their annual presentation of A Christmas Carol, and they are currently preparing to launch a full 2018–2019 season. The Alley was awarded the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1996.

Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago, Illinois
Lookingglass primarily produces new work, with an emphasis on collaborative ensemble theatre. They gave world premieres to such works as Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, founding member David Schwimmer’s The Jungle, and Studs Terkel’s Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession. The company was founded in 1988 by graduates of Northwestern University, a connection that still lives on through educational programs with Chicago-area students. They received the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2011.


EAST COAST

Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia
Located just outside of Washington, D.C., Signature Theatre (not to be confused with Off-Broadway’s Signature Theatre Company in New York City) is known for making big musicals like Show Boat and Sunset Boulevard flourish in their relatively small space, often directed by the theatre’s co-founder and artistic director Eric Schaeffer (also known for his Broadway productions of Million Dollar Quartet, Follies, and Gigi). Founded by Schaeffer and Donna Migliaccio, Signature also produces and commissions new work, giving 56 pieces their world premiere since the theatre’s inception in 1989. The theatre won the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2009.

Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut
Meant to create collaboration between theatre professionals and the students of Yale University’s School of Drama, Yale Repertory Theatre was founded in 1966 and quickly became one of the country’s leading regional theatres. The dean of the School serves as artistic director of the theatre, currently a position held by James Bundy. Yale Rep is known for developing new work, having mounted world premieres to more than 100 pieces—two of which went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Seventeen Yale Productions transferred to Broadway, such as Indecent and The Realistic Joneses. The company premiered several of August Wilson’s Century Cycle plays, including Fences, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Two Trains Running, Radio Golf, and The Piano Lesson. Yale Rep won the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1991.

Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut
The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, founded in 1964, is dedicated to developing all things theatre. In addition to developing and producing such plays and musicals as Violet, Nine, Avenue Q, In the Heights, [title of show], and The House of Blue Leaves, The O’Neill hosts educational programs that aim to develop theatrical artists, not just their individual works. Their National Playwrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Critics Institute, National Puppetry Conference, Cabaret & Performance Conference, and more offer formal training as well as a place to learn and collaborate for theatre artists across disciplines. The Center also manages and operates Monte Cristo Cottage, the childhood home of the center’s namesake, Pulitzer– and Nobel-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill. The O’Neill received the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2010.

Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey
Just a short train ride away from New York City, Paper Mill Playhouse has become known as an incubator for future Broadway productions and national tours, as well as a producer of large-scale musicals with major Broadway talent. Musicals like Bandstand, A Bronx Tale, Honeymoon in Vegas, and Newsies all played Paper Mill before opening on Broadway. They recently presented a Broadway-aimed production of Half Time directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell and starring André De Shields, Georgia Engel, Lillias White, and Donna McKechnie and a production of the original musical The Honeymooners starring Michael Mastro, Laura Bell Bundy, Leslie Kritzer, and Michael McGrath. Through its education and outreach programs, such as the Adopt-A-School Project and the Broadway Show Choir, Paper Mill fosters the talent of tomorrow. Paper Mill was awarded the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2016.


SHAKESPEARE COAST-TO-COAST
Are you a fan of The Bard? There are many theatres with long traditions of presenting first-rate Shakespeare productions, especially during the summer. Many have also transitioned to include non-Shakespeare pieces into their seasons, either presenting similar works by other writers or modern play and musical classics.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon operates year-round in repertory, with works like Othello, Henry V, and a re-gendered production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! in their current circulation. They won the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 1983.

Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, Utah runs from June to October with nine works presented in repertory. This season includes Henry VI Part One, Othello, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Big River. They won the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2000.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater in Chicago, Illinois is a year-round theatre that performs in multiple Chicago venues, including the Navy Pier. Their 2018–2019 season includes George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s Peter Pan, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a hip-hop version of A Christmas Carol, Macbeth, and the world premiere of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, adapted from the film of the same name. They won the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2008.

Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., operates year-round, with works like Romeo & Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, An Inspector Calls, and Richard the Third planned for their 2018–2019 season. They won the Regional Theatre Tony Award in 2012.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in Center Valley, Pennsylvania is a summer repertory that presents works like Twelfth Night and All’s Well That Ends Well alongside newer works like Ahrens and Flaherty’s Ragtime and a play adaptation of the film Shakespeare in Love.

Logan Culwell-Block is a musical theatre historian, Playbill's manager of research, and curator of Playbill Vault. @loganculwell

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