Theaters Take Center Stage in Washington, D.C.

19 Aug
August 19, 2011

Washington, D.C.’s cultural scene surpasses many cities in this country. The area boasts a plethora of excellent galleries and museums.

The city also has a phenomenal aspect of the art world that is often overlooked: theater. Within the city limits, the District of Columbia has three top-notch theaters that anyone in the area would be remiss to miss.

This first option is, right now, also the cheapest. In Penn Quarter, directly across the street from the Verizon Center, sits the Harmon Center for the Performing Arts. With its massive glass façade, the building is nearly impossible to miss.

Located on 7th Street, the center hosts the Shakespeare Theatre Company. The building opened in September of 2007 and since then, the 750-seat theater has held about four plays a year.

If you’ve never seen the Shakespeare Theater Company perform before, the shows in the coming weeks are the perfect opportunity. Every August, the troupe puts on “Free For All,” where a play of their choice gets a three-week run at the cost of absolutely nothing. This year, the Shakespeare Theater Company performs ‘Julius Caesar,’ which runs from now until September 4th. Shows are in the evening from Tuesday to Saturday, with a matinee on Sunday.

There are a number of ways to get free tickets to a show. People who donate to the troupe, Subscribers and Friends of Free For All, are offered the first opportunity to get tickets. But if you are not a member, there are still options to get tickets. Either enter the website’s online lottery, which draws tickets at random for the following day, or on the day you’d like to go, simply head to the theater, where they give out approximately 200 tickets starting two hours before the show.

If Shakespeare isn’t to your liking, there are still two other great options in the area. In Southwest D.C. is the newly redesigned Arena Stage. The Arena Stage has resided on Maine Avenue, across from the street from the Maine Avenue Fish Market, for nearly 40 years.

In 2008, the land underwent an enormous facelift. While the stage was left untouched, architects enclosed it in sweeping glass walls — a wavy and wild structure with a stainless steel roof. The amazing design needs to be seen in person to fully appreciate.

At the largest of the building’s three stages—The Fichandler Stage—which seats nearly 700 people, one of Broadway’s most famous and successful plays is running. Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! tells the story of a couple of couples who fall in love on a farm in the play’s namesake state.

The show runs from now until October 2nd, and tickets cost between $61-105.

The last option for impressive theater in Washington, D.C. is also the most familiar.

Located near the Watergate, on the edge of the Potomac River in Northwest, D.C., The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, is one of Washington, D.C.’s most grandiose buildings, with bright white walls and gold columns running up the side.

The Kennedy Center is easily the area’s most visited theater. It was finished in 1971 and now hosts nearly two million visitors a year. The building houses three different theaters: the Concert Hall, Opera House and Eisenhower Theater. All three theaters can fit over 1,000 people, with the Concert Hall topping out at over 2,400 seats.

The musical Wicked closes its summer run this weekend, but Shear Madness, a murder mystery/comedy begins a fall run this week with tickets, at just $45, a real steal.

So, whether you are interested in Shakespeare, musicals or comedies, the theater scene in Washington, D.C. is one that should not be skipped.

-David

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