When one thinks of Broadway, the iconic theaters of Manhattan’s Theater District immediately come to mind. However, in recent years, the influence of regional theater companies across the United States has been on the rise. These companies, located in cities and towns far from the bright lights of New York City, are making a significant impact on the world of theater and are gaining recognition for their innovative productions and talented performers.

The Growth of Regional Theater

Regional theater has a long history in the United States, with companies such as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis dating back to the mid-20th century. However, in recent years, the number and influence of regional theaters have grown significantly. Cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Seattle have vibrant theater scenes, with companies producing a wide range of plays and musicals that rival Broadway productions in quality and artistry.

One of the reasons for the growth of regional theater is the increasing cost of producing shows on Broadway. The high rents and labor costs in New York City make it difficult for smaller, independent companies to mount productions on Broadway. Regional theaters, with their lower overhead costs and dedicated local audiences, are able to take more risks and produce a wider variety of shows.

The Impact of Regional Theater

Regional theaters are not just producing local productions of Broadway hits; they are also creating original works and reimagining classic plays in new and exciting ways. Many regional theaters have developed close relationships with playwrights, composers, and directors, leading to the development of new works that go on to have successful runs on Broadway and beyond.

Regional theaters are also becoming increasingly important in the development of new talent. Many actors, directors, and designers get their start in regional theater before moving on to Broadway or other major theater markets. The training and experience they receive in regional theaters often set them apart from their peers and help them succeed in the competitive world of professional theater.

The Future of Regional Theater

As regional theaters continue to grow in influence and popularity, the future looks bright for the American theater scene. The diversity of voices and perspectives found in regional theater productions is helping to make theater more inclusive and accessible to a wider audience. With their innovative productions and talented artists, regional theaters are proving that you don’t have to be on Broadway to make a big impact in the world of theater.


What is regional theater?

Regional theater refers to professional theater companies located outside of major theater markets such as New York City. These companies produce a wide range of plays and musicals and play an important role in the development of new works and talent.

How is regional theater different from Broadway?

Regional theater companies are typically smaller and have lower overhead costs than Broadway theaters. They also have a more local focus and often produce works that reflect the interests and concerns of their communities.

Can regional theater productions compete with Broadway shows?

Absolutely! Many regional theater productions are of the same quality and artistry as Broadway shows. Regional theaters often take more risks and produce a wider variety of works than Broadway theaters, leading to innovative and exciting productions.