Where to See Live Theatre in Eugene

by Kali Kardas

Live local theatre performance at the Very Little Theatre, Photo by Travel Lane County

Maybe you have been to musical at The Hult Center, or down to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, but did you know that Eugene has a thriving community theatre scene? Seeing live theatre in your community offers numerous benefits to both the audience and the performers. Firstly, live theatre provides an opportunity to witness the power of storytelling in a unique and immersive way that cannot be replicated on a screen. It allows you to connect with the performers and other audience members in a shared experience that creates a sense of community and belonging. It can also be a great way to support local artists and theatre companies, contributing to your local cultural scene. In addition to the entertainment value, live theatre also provides educational benefits, such as learning about history, culture, and social issues. If you want an experience that stimulates your mind, emotions, and imagination, and fosters a sense of connection and community in your local area, check out these local theatre companies!

The Very Little Theatre

The Very Little Theatre, or simply VLT as members call it, is the oldest running theatre on the west coast. It will be celebrating its 94th anniversary this month! Plays at this venue are selected by a committee of members, which are made up of volunteers and patrons that help keep the theatre running. A variety of shows are produced at VLT, including musicals, locally written plays, newer classics, and “old chestnuts”. And don’t the name fool you, this little theatre has grown over the years into 2 spaces, to allow for even more shows. The volunteer talent at VLT is not to be missed!

Upcoming shows: Prelude to a Kiss (Heartfelt comedy) March 17-April 2, Cat Lady (Screwball comedy and world premiere!) April 13-24.

Oregon Contemporary Theatre

This semi-professional theatre company is run by artistic directors who watch the world of modern theatre closely bring shows that both challenge and thrill us. Plays here include world premiers and pieces by playwrights currently being celebrated on Broadway and across the country. This is where you will find the best local actors in Eugene, as sometimes traveling actors from different parts of the country. If you want to feel closer to modern arts culture, OCT is the place to be! The 3 quarter seating arrangement allows for up close intimacy with the stories. 

Upcoming shows: Something Clean (powerful drama) March 3-19, Northwest 10 Minute Play Festival (8 new short works), March 31-April 9.

Actor’s Cabaret of Eugene

Eugene’s only dinner theatre experience! Located right in downtown Eugene, you can see a show while being served dinner, signature cocktails, and delightful desserts. Actor’s Cabaret produces both modern and classic musicals, showcasing outstanding vocal performances and getting extra creative with their intimate space. Actors Cabaret has been producing shows for over 40 years and the leadership team there shows a clear passion for musical theatre. It is always a fun time at ACE! 

Currently showing Something Rotten (Shakespeare/Broadway mashup) through March 11, Rent showing June 9-July 8.

Pegasus Playhouse

Pegasus Playhouse is a newer theatre company, founded on giving young people training and experience, but Pegasus performs shows that are fun for the whole family! Their unique approach to theatre making showcases original work as well as old favorites, and gives adult and youth actors the chance to perform together as equals. Pegasus offers private parties that include shows and treats for kiddos, is producing a regular season of plays and musicals, and if offering kids classes and summer camps! Check out everything they are up to on their website. 

Upcoming shows: Snow White in Lights March 10-19, Sherlock Holmes March 18-April 9.

Free Outdoor Theatre in the Parks

Both Roving Park Players and Free Shakespeare in the Park offer a great opportunity to see a live performance for free. These outdoor shows invite you to bring a blanket or chair, a picnic, and all your friends out to some of Eugene’s excellent park spaces. These shows often have a large cast and always offer new and creative twists on old classical works or familiar stories. 

Upcoming Shows for Roving Park Players: Julius Caesar June 15-25, The Princess and the Goblin August 3-13.

This year’s Free Shakespeare in the Park show will be Much Ado About Nothing and will run all weekends in August.

Schools and Colleges

Both Lane Community College and University of Oregon have fantastic drama departments that produce shows open for community members to see! And always check what plays your neighborhood high school is performing, it means the world to student performers to have an audience! Mostly notably, South Eugene High School is known for producing modern and cutting edge works. 

I hope you make plans to see a show very soon, and make it a great date night or outing with friends.

Kali Kardas shares all the best places to catch all the theatre and performance arts shows in Eugene, Oregon.

Kali Kardas is a performer, writer, and fitness instructor. She is passionate about food, theatre, and body positivity! She also has an MBA in Sustainable Business from City University of Seattle and has ten years of marketing and communications experience. She lives in Eugene with her husband and three cats. See can be reached at kalikardas@gmail.com.

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