The lights go on, the curtains part and the stage floods with sound—the experience of live theater is brighter than ever before! A spotlight is on the Utah theater scene, with local playwrights and performers eager to step onstage for an expanding audience in several new venues. Award-winning and veteran storytellers at the Salt Lake Acting Company and Plan-B Theatre Company reflect on the human experience and shed light on important social topics. The Off Broadway Theatre helps audiences laugh their troubles away with witty parodies and live improv. The Hale Centre Theatre, meanwhile, serves big and beloved Broadway hits like Les Misérables and Guys and Dolls for fans of all ages. These four theaters showcase the diverse magic of the local theater scene with a uniquely Utah flavor.
Beloved Show Tunes and Bright Spectacles at Hale Centre Theatre
9900 S. Monroe St.
Boasting two high-tech stages capable of presenting impressive theater magic, Hale Centre Theatre provides a multi-sensory experience for lifelong family memories. Hale has a 900-seat stage where “the design of this theatre puts you literally in the same worlds as the performers,” says Kacey Udy, Hale’s Creative Director and Resident Scenic Designer. “The theater also only has 10 rows of seating, so every seat is very close.” The Hale has a second, 467-seat theater, which allows a closer observation of the performers’ expression.
Coming to Hale, audiences can get the full experience of live theater effects, with stages that allow for quick scene changes and flying rigs that can transport complete flying stages. “The combination of our arena style seating, incredible talent, innovative technology, and automation systems elevates each production,” Udy says. “You may have seen a production before on Broadway or at another theater, but you will not see it the same way you will see it at Hale.” You can see show times and upcoming shows on Hale’s website.
Raucous, Unpredictable Family Fun at the Off Broadway Theatre
12366 S. 900 East
A longtime local favorite for pop culture and political satire, The Off Broadway Theatre—now located in Draper—is rolling out quick-witted hilarity with a lineup of “family-friendly parodies intended to make people laugh, from the preschooler to the grandparent,” says Eric Jensen, Artistic Director of Off Broadway Theater.
With a lighthearted approach, Off Broadway provides fun high notes to the state’s diverse theater offerings. Improv, offered at the theater by the comedy troupe Laughing Stock (first formed in 1994), provides a unique viewing experience that kids and adults alike will get a kick out of. “[A live performance] will happen this one time and never again,” Jensen says. “So when you experience it, you realize that it’s not something that can be bottled or done again.”
Now that the troupe and local performers can stretch out in a newer location, audiences don’t have to grapple with challenging aspects of being formerly located downtown. When asked what he likes best about the new location in Draper, Jensen answers in the relatable humor the Off Broadway is known for: “I never get parking tickets!” See their lineup online.
Veteran Local Arthouse with the Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC)
168 W. 500 North
Vibrant and smart, SLAC is a longtime jewel in the crown of Utah theater and continues to inspire progress and artistic mastery at a local level. Founded in 1970 by Edward Gryska, a gay man who sought to create a counterculture in Salt Lake City, SLAC has a deep commitment to producing works that will spark ideas and broaden audience horizons. “Each of SLAC’s productions is carefully selected to support our mission of bringing brave, contemporary theater to our audiences from around the world,” says Cynthia Fleming, SLAC’s Executive Artistic Director.
With a colorful and distinguished history of pushing the envelope, contemporary offerings continue to challenge the status quo with productions about religious rights and gay marriage (Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake), the issue of euthanasia and end-of-life rights (Julie Jensen’s Winter), being born deaf in a hearing family (Nina Raine’s Tribes) and timely questions about racial equity (American Dreams, co-produced with lead producer Working Theater, among various other collaborators).
Looking into the future, the theater has just started a new series called #SLACabaret, which will repeat with new playwrights and cast each summer. See SLAC’s progressive upcoming plays online.
Cutting-Edge and Creative with Plan-B Theatre Company Plays performed at Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
138 W. Broadway
Rooted in the Salt Lake City community and dedicated to fostering new, unique talent, Plan-B Theatre Company brings engaging drama that centers on the voices and nuanced storytelling of a diverse range of local playwrights. With a special focus on bringing marginalized perspectives to the forefront, Plan-B is the first professional arts organization in Utah history to be led by an artist of color and is the only theatre company in the state to create both a new LGBTQ+ play and a new play for K–6 students each season. Each production from Plan-B is guaranteed to reach into your heart and give you something to ponder long after the play has ended.
“We create character-driven plays in which characters face real issues in real ways,” says Jerry Rapier, Artistic Director of Plan-B Theatre. “We reflect our community as it is now, not as it has been, with an eye toward what it may become. And we focus on raising questions that create conversation rather than trying to provide answers.”
With a colorful and expansive approach to creative and cutting-edge theater, Plan-B adds invaluable artistry to the local theater scene. Check out their upcoming shows here.
The Utah theaters that have entertained for generations bring us together to laugh and cry, and there’s no doubt that the lauded local theater scene is quickly growing into one of the region’s best and most diverse. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to learn more about upcoming cultural events in Utah.