The San Antonio Symphony is the city's largest resident performing arts company. There are also a few theaters with their own professional companies who keep the local arts scene lively, and cultural organizations that bring well-known performing artists to San Antonio. The city provides some unique venues -- such as the elegant Majestic and Empire theaters, the Arneson outdoor theater on the River Walk, and the state-of-the-art AT&T Center.
Most of San Antonio's major road shows turn up at the Majestic or Empire theater, but several smaller theaters are of interest too. The Actors Theater of San Antonio, 1920 Fredericksburg Rd. (tel. 210/738-2872), uses local talent for its productions, which tend to be in the less commercial, off-Broadway tradition. Their venue is the Woodlawn Theatre, opened as a movie house in 1945. The community-based Josephine Theatre, 339 W. Josephine St. (tel. 210/734-4646; www.josephinetheatre.org), puts on an average of five productions a year -- mostly musicals -- at the Art Deco-style theater, only 5 minutes from downtown.
Whether it's an original piece by a member of the company or a work by a guest artist, anything you see at the Jump-Start Performance Company, 108 Blue Star Arts Complex (1400 S. Alamo; tel. 210/227-JUMP ; www.jump-start.org), is likely to push the social and political envelope. This is the place to find performance artists such as Karen Finley or Holly Hughes.
Magik Theatre, Beethoven Hall, 420 S. Alamo, in HemisFair Park (tel. 210/227-2751; www.magiktheatre.org), puts on shows exclusively for children and families. It's one of very few such organizations to have its own professional company and venue. The theater, Beethoven Hall, used to belong to an old German singing society and has 600 seats. Shows are popular, so you need to reserve in advance, especially on weekends. Magik Theatre performs a full season of plays, mostly adaptations from children's books.
San Antonio's first public theater, the San Pedro Playhouse, 800 W. Ashby (tel. 210/733-7258; www.sanpedroplayhouse.com), presents a wide range of plays in a neoclassical-style performance hall built in 1930. For information on other small theaters in San Antonio and links to many of those listed in this section, log on to the website of the San Antonio Theater Coalition at www.satheatre.com.
A Theater that Lives Up to Its Name -- Everyone from Jack Benny to Mae West played the Majestic, one of the last "atmospheric" theaters to be built in America. The stock market crashed 4 months after its June 1929 debut, and no one could afford to build such expensive showplaces afterward. Designed in baroque Moorish/Spanish revival style by John Eberson, this former vaudeville and film palace features an elaborate village above the sides of the stage and, overhead, a magnificent night sky dome, replete with twinkling stars and scudding clouds. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the Majestic affords a rare glimpse into a gilded era (yes, there's genuine gold leaf detailing).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.