Where are the best places for live theatre in America?

A new report gives high marks to the U.S. theatre scene. Rankings are based on previously unreleased data of professional actors employed on the live stage and the number of weeks worked.

Central Florida, Washington, D.C./Baltimore, Twin Cities, St. Louis, Milwaukee/Madison, Kansas City, Denver, Seattle, Houston/Galveston, and Cincinnati/Louisville deserve a round of applause.

Broadway and off-Broadway theaters in New York City, along with theatres in Los Angeles and Chicago, employ thousands of actors on many stages, but what comes next? Where are the best places to see live theatre in the United States? Actors’ Equity Association, the union representing 51,000 live theatre actors and stage managers across the country, today released its first annual list, the 2018 Regional Theatre Report that provides some answers.

The report – a look at theatres outside New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles – uses never-before released data on the number of professional actors represented by Equity, employed in major cities across the United States, and the number of weeks worked to establish a ranking of the nation’s most vibrant theatre communities.

Collectively, the cities on this list are responsible for generating more than $112 million in wages for Equity actors and stage managers during the 2016-2017 theatre season.

The market leaders are Central Florida – home to roughly 1,000 Equity members, many of whom work on Disney productions on a daily basis – Washington, D.C./Baltimore, Twin Cities, St. Louis, Milwaukee/Madison, Kansas City, Denver, Seattle, Houston/Galveston, and Cincinnati/Louisville.

To view the full report, click here.

In a city like Washington and its suburbs, for example, audiences can attend performances virtually every night at Ford’s Theater, the Arena Stage, Signature and Roundhouse Theatres, Olney Playhouse, The Shakespeare Theatre Company, The National Theater and The Kennedy Center. Last year, Washington’s theatres employed 1,194 Equity members for 20,178 work weeks.

“Our data demonstrates that steady, high quality performances are being performed by hundreds of professional actors and stage managers in theatres all across the nation. We’re seeing great work in places as small as Madison, as well as major cities from coast to coast,” said Mary McColl, executive director of Actors’ Equity Association. “We hope that this report will demonstrate for audiences that exciting performances on the live stage may not be so far away.”

The study also found that New Orleans is the fastest growing regional market for professional theatre. That conclusion is based on a look at work in New Orleans over the last three theatre seasons. New Orleans reported 771 work weeks in the most recent season – a 68 percent increase compared to the 458 work weeks reported during the 2014-2015 season.

Some actors and stage managers are not represented by Actors’ Equity. Belonging to the union provides members with fair compensation and workplace protections that permit performers to give their all, at every performance. 

ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its Members by negotiating wages and working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. #EquityWorks.