Best Local Theater Company

1. The Shedd Institute
868 High Street. TheShedd.org.

2. Very Little Theatre
2350 Hilyard Street. TheVLT.com.

3. Actors Cabaret of Eugene 9
96 Willamette Street. ActorsCabaret.org.

Pssst: Don’t tell anyone, but Eugene and its surrounding communities have been enjoying an incredible explosion of great local theater in the past few years. You might even call it a renaissance.

Practically any weekend you can find a performance in town that’s moving, funny, challenging, sweet, engaging, romantic or transcendent — or all of the above.

So it’s no wonder the voting was tight between the four best theaters in town.

Top honors went to The Shedd Institute, whose Shedd Theatricals has been staging excellent revivals of classic American musical comedy for many years. In the current season, audiences at The Shedd have seen Damn Yankees and Annie, with She Loves Me set to open Dec. 6.

But The Shedd isn’t simply a fine theater company. It also serves as an academy of performance where young and aspiring actors get the chance to work alongside seasoned stage professionals. Annie, for example, had tiny and adorable Eliyah Chandler playing the orphan Molly; she melted audience hearts and often succeeded in stealing the show from the very good golden retriever who played Annie’s canine sidekick, Kitty.

And Shedd regulars have had, in recent years, the joy of watching the incredible Conforth sisters — Cyra, Kenady and Campbell — grow up right onstage.

The thing is, we also get a lot of great theater from runners-up Very Little Theatre and Actors Cabaret of Eugene — not to mention from Oregon Contemporary Theatre, which placed No. 4 in reader voting.

What’s not to like?

Author: Bob Keefer