The Vibrant Theatre Scene in Maricopa County, AZ: A Local Expert's Perspective

As a theatre enthusiast and resident of Maricopa County, AZ, I have had the pleasure of witnessing the growth and evolution of the local theatre scene. With a population of over 4 million people, this county is home to a diverse and thriving theatre community that offers a wide range of performances for all to enjoy.

The History of Theatre in Maricopa County

Theatre has been a part of Maricopa County's cultural landscape for over a century. The first recorded performance in the area was in 1879, when a traveling troupe of actors put on a show in Phoenix. As the county grew and developed, so did its theatre scene.

In the early 1900s, vaudeville shows were popular in Phoenix, with performances taking place at the Orpheum Theatre and the Adams Hotel. By the 1920s, silent films had become all the rage, and many of the vaudeville theaters were converted into movie houses. However, live performances continued to thrive in Maricopa County, with touring companies bringing Broadway shows to the area. In the 1950s and 1960s, community theaters began to pop up throughout the county. These small, volunteer-run theaters provided an outlet for local actors and playwrights to showcase their talents. Today, there are over 30 community theaters in Maricopa County alone.

The Major Theatres in Maricopa County

Maricopa County is home to several major theatres that attract top talent from around the country.

These venues offer a wide range of performances, from musicals and plays to concerts and comedy shows.

1.ASU Gammage

Located on the campus of Arizona State University, ASU Gammage is one of the largest and most prestigious theaters in the county. Designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, this 3,000-seat theater hosts Broadway shows, dance performances, and concerts throughout the year.

2.Orpheum Theatre

The Orpheum Theatre, built in 1929, is a historic landmark in downtown Phoenix. After being closed for several years, it was restored and reopened in 1997. Today, it is a popular venue for touring Broadway shows, concerts, and other live performances.

3.Herberger Theater Center

The Herberger Theater Center is a multi-venue performing arts complex in downtown Phoenix. It is home to several resident companies, including Arizona Theatre Company and Center Dance Ensemble.

The center also hosts a variety of touring productions and special events.

The Community Theaters of Maricopa County

While the major theatres in Maricopa County may get most of the attention, the community theaters are the heart and soul of the local theatre scene. These smaller, more intimate venues provide a platform for local actors and playwrights to showcase their talents.

1.Desert Stages Theatre

Located in Scottsdale, Desert Stages Theatre has been entertaining audiences since 1995. This non-profit community theater offers a variety of productions throughout the year, including musicals, plays, and children's shows.

2.Theater Works

Theater Works is a professional theater company located in Peoria. In addition to producing their own shows, they also offer educational programs for children and adults. Their main stage productions range from classic plays to contemporary musicals.

3.Ghostlight Theatre

Ghostlight Theatre, located in Sun City West, is a volunteer-run community theater that has been entertaining audiences since 2007. They produce a variety of shows, including dramas, comedies, and musicals, and also offer acting classes for all ages.

The Future of Theatre in Maricopa County

The theatre scene in Maricopa County shows no signs of slowing down.

In fact, it is only getting bigger and better. With the recent opening of the Mesa Arts Center and the upcoming renovation of the Phoenix Theatre, there are even more opportunities for residents to experience live performances. In addition, many of the community theaters are expanding and upgrading their facilities to accommodate larger audiences and more elaborate productions. This growth is a testament to the passion and dedication of the local theatre community.


From its humble beginnings in the late 1800s to its current vibrant state, the theatre scene in Maricopa County has come a long way. With a wide range of venues and productions to choose from, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you are a seasoned theatre-goer or new to the world of live performances, Maricopa County has something to offer you.

Nikki Specking
Nikki Specking

Wannabe pizza fan. Tv practitioner. Food guru. Passionate pizza buff. Subtly charming tv enthusiast. Amateur coffee scholar.