While Vallarta has certainly known its share of drama, we didn't have much of an English-language theater scene until recently, just one hard-working thespian company, Spotlight Productions, and one venue capable of hosting its productions, Theater Agustin Flores Contreras, formerly Cecatur.

Now we've got four noteworthy stage companies and several easily accessible and comfy spots to watch their productions: the 80-seat Cuale Cultural Center at the eastern tip of Isla Rio Cuale, with room for an additional 300 in front of its outdoor stage; the eclectic, alternative space L'Opera on nearby Encino, host to all kinds of events, theatrical included; and the always upbeat Santa Barbara Playhouse Dinner Theater on Olas Altas, which deserves a big part of the credit for raising the bar on the burgeoning scene.