The best performing arts centers and theaters in Los Angeles

From glittery performing arts complexes to traditional stages—here are the best theaters in Los Angeles for plays and live shows.

Courtesy Geffen Playhouse
Geffen Playhouse courtyard

Recommended: See more theater in Los Angeles

Move over Broadway, Los Angeles has some of the best theaters and performing arts spaces in the nation. Whether you're looking for intimate and avant garde or sweeping orchestral maneuvers and lively musicals, there's a wide range of venues and shows at these houses to suit every taste. Here are just some of the best theaters and performing arts spaces in LA.

You voted for your favorite theaters and performing arts spaces in Los Angeles, and the results are in!

The winner is: A Noise Within

Here are the statistical results:

34% - A Noise Within       
25% - Bootleg Theater      
11% - LA Theatre Center    
11% - REDCAT                 
7% - Geffen Playhouse      
2% - Mark Taper Forum    
2% - Royce Hall               
2% - Broad Stage            
2% - VPAC                     
2% - Walt Disney Concert Hall

Geffen Playhouse

Critics' pick

The West Side's most glittery theatrical venue is home to a good-sized main stage, the Gil Cates Theater, and the cozier Skirball Kenis Theater. The company offers a mix of new work and local premieres, frequently with big-name (though sometimes second-tier) Hollywood talent. Special nights include Wine Down Sundays, Lounge Fridays and Talk Back Tuesdays, where a special drinks or coffee reception is held before the performance. Saturday mornings often feature great kid-oriented shows.

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Westwood

A Noise Within

Critics' pick

The LA region's leading classical theater company presents two annual seasons, each containing three productions in repertory. Workshops, lectures and classes are also held in  the splendid new Pasadena facilities, opened in 2011.

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Mark Taper Forum

Critics' pick

Distinguished as the first non-New York theater to win consecutive Pulitzer prizes two years in a row (for The Kentucky Cycle and Angels In America), this 739-seat theater holds a high standard for its year-round program of plays—and as a result, tends to draw keen, theater-literate audiences.

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Downtown

Bootleg Theater

Critics' pick

This 1930's warehouse-turned-theater (complete with an exposed beam ceiling, swoon) hosts performances of all kinds, including music, theater, dance and film. Indie rock bands and local talent are often on tap here, and it's one of the best small music venues on the Eastside. The theater's owners are steeped in the arts as well, from actors to set designers to welders—it's no wonder they fill Bootleg's calendar with such varied and quality shows.

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Echo Park

Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT)

Critics' pick

Located in the back of the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex, the prestigious CalArts–owned multipurpose space leads the way in compelling avant-garde performances in dance, music and theater—not to mention the exhibits mounted in the center's 3,000-square-foot gallery.

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Downtown

Los Angeles Theatre Center

Critics' pick

This city-owned, four-theater complex is housed in a former bank close to Skid Row in Downtown, and can be one of the city's most exciting venues. The Latino Theater Company (www.latinotheater.com) has operated from here since 2006.

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Downtown

The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage

Critics' pick

The stage named for and by LA's top downtown arts philanthropists might seem a bit out of place, miles away from their Grand Avenue Corridor, but the Broad Stage is an elegant venue for theater, dance and music performances throughout the year.

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Santa Monica

Walt Disney Concert Hall

Critics' pick

The $274-million crown jewel of the LA Music Center—home of the LA Philharmonic and the LA Master Chorale—is a terrific venue. Designed by Frank Gehry, the hall features a 2,265-capacity auditorium with an open platform stage and virtually perfect acoustics.

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Downtown

Kirk Douglas Theatre

Critics' pick

The West Side branch of the Center Theatre Group offers the company's most adventurous fare, along with intermittent collaborations with some of LA's smaller troupes. The theater itself was originally built as a cinema and retains its iconic old neon sign out front.

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Culver City

Royce Hall

Critics' pick

Named for American philosopher Josiah Royce, UCLA's grand 1,800-seat theater has a history of legendary performances that dates back to the 1930s, when Jimmy Dorsey’s Band, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and Arnold Schoenberg graced the stage.

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Westwood

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