About Musical Theatre West
The story of Musical Theatre West is the 66-year journey from a group of volunteers performing in a high school auditorium to one of the largest and most respected theatrical production companies in Southern California. Beginning as the Whittier Civic Light Opera in 1952, the company originally produced two shows a year for just two days each, back when shows like RIO RITA and THE RED MILL were still in vogue. During most of the 1960s and 1970s, the group remained an all-volunteer effort, producing one show a year. Back then tickets were sold at Hinshaw’s and Myers department stores and could be had for all of $1.50 (75 cents for children)! In 1977 the group moved to the brand-new La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts and began to produce a full season of shows.
During the 1980s and 1990s the company began to assert itself as one of the top companies in the area, utilizing professional talent and producing regional premieres and even a world premiere musical (1992’s HURRY! HURRY! HOLLYWOOD), while continuing to honor the tradition of classic musical theater. The company entered a new phase in 1997 when it began to produce shows at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach and quickly became the largest arts producer in the Long Beach area. The company greets the 21st Century by continuing to produce newer fare (RENT, THE FULL MONTY, THE PRODUCERS, HAIRSPRAY) alongside classics of the genre (MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, THE KING & I, MAN OF LA MANCHA), and has recently produced two additional world premieres.
The company continues to receive critical acclaim and national recognition – and many performers who cut their teeth on the MTW stage have gone on to successful careers on Broadway and in television and film. Just as important, stage and screen veterans now come to Musical Theatre West to perform, finding it to be one of the friendliest and most fun venues to work. A key aspect of the company is its dedication to education, and the Education and Outreach Programs of Musical Theatre West brings the joy and magic of musical theater to over 17,000 children each year through special morning performances, school assemblies, and the Summer Youth Conservatory. We hope that you’ll join the thousands of performers, technicians, audience members, donors and volunteers that make up the Musical Theatre West family as we look forward to another 61 years of bringing Broadway to Southern California.
Enrich the community with Broadway-quality productions, preserve musical theatre as a unique American art form and expose people of all backgrounds to the excitement of musical theatre.
To be recognized as the premier musical theater company in Southern California.