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Paramount Theatre
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 10 best theaters in Seattle

The best theaters in Seattle go beyond the music scene that the city is renowned for: catch all sorts of shows when here

By Jacklyn Grambush

Seattle may be known for its music scene, but concerts aren’t the only shows that the city offers. From ballet to plays, operas to comedy, exciting performances abound all throughout the city. It should come as no surprise, then, for the town to be home to beautiful and often multipurpose theaters, some layered with history and others still coming into their own.

The versatility of the best theaters in Seattle is apparent in the type of art they showcase and in the respective ambiance they boast: some call for tuxedos and evening gowns, others are ideal for family-friendly affairs while others yet are adults-only destinations.

One thing remains consistent, though: Seattle's quintessential vibe—the same one that renders the city's neighborhoods, events and restaurant scenes so unique—finds residence across each one of these theaters.

Best theaters in Seattle

Paramount Theatre
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Amie B.

1. Paramount Theatre

Theater CBD

The Paramount is part of the Seattle Theater Group, which brings art to the public through historic venues. A lavish performance space, it first opened 90 years ago as the Seattle Theatre during the roaring twenties. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, it was renamed in 1995 after being bought, restored and renovated following financial difficulties. Today, the theater hosts live concerts, comedy shows, speaker sessions and Broadway shows.

The 5th Avenue Theatre
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ruth B.

2. The 5th Avenue Theatre

Theater CBD

Open since 1926, two years before the Paramount Theatre came into existence, the interior of the 5th Avenue Theatre was modeled after the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heavenly Peace and the Summer Palace in China. Even after a bout of restoration (financial struggles during the 1970s caused it to shut down for two years and re-open in 1980), the original design holds strong. Today, the theatre hosts Broadway shows and produces its own musicals.

Benaroya Hall
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Austin B.

3. Benaroya Hall

Music Music venues Central Business District

A rather young venue at only 20 years old, Benaroya Hall has quickly become an integral part of the city. Taking up an entire city block, the hall is home to the renowned Seattle Symphony. It houses a 2,500-seat-performance venue, a 536-seat recital hall, a stunning Chihuly chandelier and the Watjen concert organ, a 4,490-pipe organ. Performances range from the casual and educational to rather sophisticated ones.

ACT theater
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Sandra L.

4. ACT Theater

Theater CBD

Founded in 1965, the ACT Theatre didn’t move to its current location until a year later. The historic building it moved to was the very same venue where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke in 1961 and where iconic ‘60s and ‘70s bands were known to rock. Now, it works with up-and-coming as well as established artists to explore modern themes across several stages. Side note: ACT stands for A Contemporary Theatre, which makes the venue’s full name sort of repetitive.

McCaw Hall
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Mike C.

5. McCaw Hall

Music Lower Queen Anne

Located under the Space Needle at the Seattle Center, McCaw Hall opened in 2003 as the renovated Seattle Opera House. It is the performance venue for the Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Opera, hosting around 150 performances per year between the two. The hall, which has also hosted live concerts, includes a 2,900-seat auditorium and a 380-seat lecture hall.

Hale's Palladium
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Elaine K.

6. Hale's Palladium

Music Music venues West Woodland

Originally the warehouse for Hale’s Ales, this space was transformed into a performance venue specifically to accommodate the Moisture Festival, which takes place over several weeks during the spring. Throughout the rest of the year, the space is used for other performances and can be rented out for private parties.

Moore Theatre
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Tori W.

7. Moore Theatre

Music Pine Market

The oldest operating theater in Seattle, the Moore Theatre opened in 1907. Also part of the Seattle Theatre Group, it boasts 1,800 seats just two blocks from Pike Place Market. After a renovation in 2013, it continues to stage musicals, comedy shows and variety programs, among other sorts of performances. It also provides art education and development programs, always a plus.

Annex Theatre
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Cassandra A.

8. Annex Theatre

Theater Minor

Over the past 30 years, the Annex Theatre has produced over 300 performances. It hosts monthly shows, such as Spin the Bottle and Weird & Awesome with Emmett Montgomery, and produces eight plays every year. Often taking advantage of local talent, the theater has spun out nationally and internationally recognized actors, directors, playwrights and performances.


9. Seattle Public Theater

Theater Green Lake

Located in Green Lake Park, this space has been around for over 30 years in a converted bathhouse, mostly as a community theater. It is still constantly garnering attention throughout the city with plans to extend even further. In addition to the intimate 165-seat space, the theater offers education programs and the Emerald Prize, which is a scholarship for debuting playwrights.

Theater Off Jackson
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Hye-Eun P.

10. Theater Off Jackson

Theater Performing arts space International District

Located in the International District, this underground theater of 140 seats hosts plays, music events, burlesque shows and readings of the smaller, independent variety. Since its opening in 1987, it has come to be known for its edge: the community-minded venue is dedicated to keeping art accessible through continuous donations. It also offers co-production and space-rental, and it hosts the annual Solo Performance Festival.

Looking for other ways to spend an evening?

Photograph: Christopher Eltrich

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