Believe it or not, San Antonio boasts an incredibly robust live theater community. Yes, even in the age of streaming! Local theater companies put on everything from Andrew Lloyd Webber hits to wacky original musicals starring frogs, so whether your tastes skew toward canonized classics or experimental performances, there’s something here for you to love.
The Public Theater
Originally established as the San Antonio Dramatic Club in 1912, the Public Theater of San Antonio is the oldest theater company in South Texas. If the name sounds unfamiliar, it may be because you know them as the Playhouse – in early 2018, the company rebranded under the name the Public with a renewed mission to “produce live theater that inspires, educates and connects communities.”
The Public produces plays in two performance spaces: splashy musicals and other big productions in the Russell Hill Rogers Auditorium, and smaller, more intimate performances in the Cellar Theater. The alternating schedule allows the company to put on productions at a breakneck pace, so there’s very little time in which there’s not a play running.
Highlights from this year include hit musicals Once (May 16-June 9), Mary Poppins, (September 12-October 13) and Elf: The Musical (November 21-December 22), as well as more experimental productions like Freud’s Last Session (April 18-May 12), Sink, Florida, Sink (June 13-30), and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (December 26-January 19). $10-$40, 800 W. Ashby Pl., (210) 733-7258, thepublicsa.org.
Founded in 2012, the Woodlawn Theatre is relatively new on the scene, but that hasn’t stopped them from making a splash. The company puts on six musicals a year in the historic Woodlawn Theatre, which was originally built in 1945 (and notably hosted the 1960 premiere of John Wayne’s The Alamo). The Woodlawn incorporates both canonized classics and contemporary hits each year, and for 2019 audiences have In the Heights (April 12-May 5), Dreamgirls (August 23-September 15), and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (October 11-November 3) to look forward to. $18-$30, 1920 Fredericksburg Rd., (210) 267-8388, woodlawntheatre.org.
The Classic Theatre
Right next door to the Woodlawn is the Classic Theatre’s black-box performance space. Founded in 2008, the Classic’s mission is to produce “excellent theatre that is relevant, diverse, entertaining and transformative.” Each season features both local and national artists in four main-stage shows, plus several smaller productions that fall under the umbrella of the Second Series. Upcoming plays include the midcentury drama Little Foxes (May 3-26), followed by the one-man show I’m Not Lying starring Jaston Williams of Greater Tuna fame (June 7-17). $18-$33, 1924 Fredericksburg Rd., (210) 589-8450, classictheatre.org.
It’s hard enough to plan a trip to NYC, let alone try to snag notoriously sold-out and insanely priced Broadway tickets to hit musicals like Hamilton. Fortunately, there’s not one but two ways to catch touring Broadway productions in the city at two premiere performance spaces.
For its BMW of San Antonio Signature Series, the Tobin Center hosts one-night engagements of touring musicals. This spring’s events include The Wizard of Oz (March 12), Monty Python’s Spamalot (April 24), and The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical (May 15). After each performance, the artists will pop back out for a Q&A session as part of the Tobin’s Generation NEXT Education Initiative. Prices vary, Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, H-E-B Performance Hall, 100 Auditorium Circle, (210) 223-8624, tobincenter.org.
If your schedule is a bit more crowded, Broadway in San Antonio hosts longer-running engagements at the Majestic Theatre. Mixed in with the long-touring classics on this year’s schedule are the hotly anticipated Hamilton (May 7-26) and Dear Evan Hansen (Dec 17-22), plus an appearance by Blue Man Group in November. Prices vary, Majestic Theatre, 224 E. Houston St., (210) 226-3333, sanantonio.broadway.com.
Located inside the Barshop Jewish Community Center is the Sheldon Vexler Theatre — affectionally nicknamed “the Vex” — a black-box performance space that hosts four productions per season. This year, the Vex will conclude its 20th season and enter a new decade of performances, continuing the company’s tradition of performing shows with its own unique “Vex twist.” Once the season closes out this spring with a rousing performance of Cabaret (May 4-June 2), the Vex will undergo a major expansion project that includes renovations to the lobby, theater seating and more. $15-$23, 12500 NW Military Hwy., (210) 302-6835, vexler.org.
Jump-Start Performance Co.
Jump-Start Performance Co. is the longest-running performance-art company in San Antonio. Since 1985, the company has produced performance art and experimental theater, including “over 500 original performance works.” Jump-Start has a long history of collaboration in the city, working with San Antonio College, the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center and the Classic Theatre, among others. Not limited to just theatrical works, Jump-Start hosts dancers, musicians and visual artists in its space as well. Exemplifying their mission is this spring’s “W-I-P Performance Lab,” which gives a space for artists to present “new, in-progress performance-based work,” after which they will engage in a dialogue with the audience for constructive feedback. Prices vary, 710 Fredericksburg Rd., (210) 227-5867, jump-start.org.
The Overtime Theater
Tired of seeing productions of Rent and Les Misérables constantly dominating the stage? Never fear, the Overtime Theater is here! Founded in 2007, the Overtime puts on live theater unlike anything you’ll see at other companies in town. Dedicated to promoting new work by local artists — the weirder the better — the Overtime also hosts improv group the Denials as well as one-off events like Nerd Court’s geeky debate nights. Premiering in March is the new, original musical Frog’s Legs: Love Among the Lily Pads, featuring singing frogs and cats in a story described as “a modern-day setting of Midsummer Night’s Dream with a Seinfeld spin.” Prices vary, 5409 Bandera Rd., Suite 205, (210) 557-7562, theovertimetheater.org.
Based out of the Public Theater, Teatro Audaz is a Latinx pop-up theater company that seeks to center marginalized voices, including people of color, LGBTQ individuals, immigrants and women. The company produces plays in both English and Spanish and also hosts special events like the Glam Clam, “a drag novela brunch series.” Past productions include a 2019 DreamWeek performance of William Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew, in which the setting was updated to a modern border town, and Casa de Muñeca, an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Prices and locations vary, (210) 401-7060, teatroaudaz.com.