Philadelphia has its own, unique, and very rich theater scene. It’s an easy drive from Trenton (under 40 minutes door-to-door, usually). Yes, there are presentation houses that book current touring companies from Broadway shows (at near Broadway prices). But there are also many, many outstanding theater companies that produce their own stage plays using predominantly Philadelphia-area actors (many actually live across the river in NJ). Venues range from pop-up, black-box locations in unlikely neighborhoods (e.g. during the Philly Fringe Festivals) to the oldest theater in America, built in 1809. The best of these companies provide outstanding theatrical experiences, usually at bargain prices (compared to New York): top prices for many “non profit” theaters are often $50-75, going down to as low as $10 or $15. Discounts for younger patrons are often available.
Below we’ve listed a selection of some of our favorite companies in town. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a good starting point. To find more, click on the “Website” link above to read the “Theatre Philadelphia” website, which sponsors the “Barrymore Awards” (Philly’s Tony’s) and lists most theater companies in the greater Philly area. However, our center-city favorites, in alphabetical order, include:
Arden Theater – a mid-sized theater in old-town that produces a range of outstanding productions from classic revivals to recent works.
InterAct Theatre Company – a small theater that produces mostly new plays, often thought-provoking with a social-justice theme.
Philadelphia Artist Collective – a small theater focusing on rarely performed (and therefore rarely seen) classical plays. They move from venue to venue downtown, sometimes site-specific. For example, in 2014 they produced O’Neil’s “Sea Plays” in the hold of a sailing ship tied up in Philly harbor. Exciting theater!
Philadelphia Theatre Company – a medium sized theater that produces recent American plays including new works.
Pig Iron Theatre Company – a theater collective that produces original performance works combining dance, drama, clown, puppetry, and multi-media. Their productions attract a young, hip crowd. Always fascinating. Usually irreverent and sexy.
Walnut Street Theatre Company – The “establishment” theater in town, performing in the same location since 1809. Usually high-quality productions of recent Broadway musical hits, and revivals of older classics.
Wilma Theater – an innovative, mid-sized theater that produces new work and edgy productions of cutting edge theater.