State-of-the-art technical equipment, grandiose theater spaces and flexible seating arrangements are just a few of the reasons why D.C. offers some of the finest performing arts venues in the country. To foster its culture and growing artistic communities, the city has been reinvesting in its theater scene lately, and the result has attracted waves of artists and creators. The city now boasts a collection of performance venues capable of bringing every creative group’s artistic visions to life. To help you find the perfect spot for your group to either watch an acclaimed performance in one of these classic theaters or take to the stage themselves, here are our top five picks for performance venues in the capital city.
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Music and More at Strathmore
A performance at The Music Center at Strathmore, just outside of the city in North Bethesda, Maryland, will set the tone for your trip and your group’s experience of Washington D.C.’s culture. This sophisticated and modern structure signals elegance with its curved, sloped architectural style and six-floor-high glass window façade. The center is dedicated to showcasing a variety of musical styles, from folk, blues and jazz to rock, pop and show tunes. The 16-acre center contains the main 1,976-seat Concert Hall with adjustable acoustics, a sprung dance floor, four dressing rooms, 12 warm-up rooms and the 2,300-square-foot Orchestral Rehearsal Rooms. Interested group directors can apply to rent one of these spaces or inquire about discounted group tickets available with rental purchases here.
Take the chance to relive history when you visit the Ford’s Theatre, the historic site where actor John Wilkes Booth fatally shot President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. Today the theater functions as part of the Ford’s Theatre Museum and depicts the event and Lincoln’s life while continuing to put on plays year-round. In addition to catching a performance of one of the theater’s upcoming shows, groups can also tour the inside of the theater and learn about the events of that night on their own with a National Park Service ranger leading them or, in the spring or summer months, through a half-hour informational play depicting the assassination from the perspective of an audience member. To learn more about both tickets for shows and tours, head over to the theater’s website.
Bringing Back the Bard
Heralded by the city as its premier classical theatre, the Shakespeare Theatre Company is famous for putting on plays by its namesake and other classical playwrights. The company has three different venues available for rental capable of accommodating both large and small performing arts groups and their audience. The largest is the Sidney Harman Hall, which can seat 774 or 678 with the orchestra pit. It features a flexible stage that can convert to thrust, end stage or proscenium formations and includes a fully trapped stage floor. The Lansburgh Theatre offers seating for 451 people and a proscenium stage while the 2,400-square foot adaptable space in The Forum seats 150 people for a more intimate atmosphere. The center also has meeting and event spaces available to rent for pre- or post-performance ceremonies or meals. To explore these options or book tickets for an upcoming show, check out the theater’s website.
An American Arena
Join the Arena Stage in discovering what it means to be an American by booking a rental for one of the Mead Center for American Theatre’s various theater spaces or attending one of its thought-provoking shows. The theater proudly puts on shows that encourage discussion and interaction with topics of American identity. Talented performing arts groups have the opportunity to choose among The Fichandler Stage, the uniquely four-sided, 10,000-square-feet auditorium with 680 seats, the Kreeger Theatre with a modified thrust stage and 510 seats and the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, an oval-shaped theatre with 200 seats, to host their performances. The theater also offers versatile Rehearsal Halls with high ceilings, sprung floors and the theatrical lighting and sound equipment necessary to prepare for any type of show. The theater’s website provides more information about each of these spaces and how to rent them.
Hailed as D.C.’s most iconic theatre, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is home to the world-class National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera and the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. The expansive theater not only has seven state-of-the-art venues of varying capacities for your group to rent or attend a show in, but it also offers tours that groups of 15-60 people can reserve. These tours feature the theater’s memorial to the former president, a look at the art and decorations gifted to the theater from foreign supporters and a visit to the building’s rooftop terrace with stunning views of the city. Groups scheduling both a tour and a show may qualify for discounted tickets. The largest of the “Ken Cen” venues are the Concert Hall with a high-tech acoustical canopy and room for 2,456 people and the 2,364-seat Opera House designed for ballet, opera and musical theater. Slightly smaller are the recently renovated Eisenhower Theatre and Terrace Theatre, which seat 1,164 and 490 people respectively. On the smaller side, the Theater Lab can seat up to 388, the Family Theatre can accommodate 324 people to enjoy its modern theatrical innovations and the Terrace Gallery, which features the center’s Jazz Club, seats 160. Interested group directors should submit an application to reserve a space.