All the City's a stage
Washington, DC is a town of much renown: it is a government town, a company town,
a scandalous town and the political capital of the world.
But Washington also has another significant distinction - it is a theatre town.
It is a thriving cultural capital where each season approximately 65 professional theatres in the metropolitan
area produce more than 350 productions that run for a total of more than 8,000 performances and play to more than 2,000,000 audience members.
Beyond the numbers, Washington - the theatre town - is more than 200 years old. In 1791 architect Pierre L'Enfant's plan
for the new capital city included a congressional house and a presidential palace connected by a grand avenue lined with
More than two hundred years later, on any given night curtains are rising on upwards of
200 performances at theatres in the District, Virginia and Maryland.
And the theatre scene in Washington, DC is only getting bigger. Several of the city's most popular playhouses are responding
to the demand for live entertainment through capital improvement campaigns, adding playing spaces, educational facilities and more.
The magnificent National Theatre is the "Theatre of Presidents" located only a short walk from the White House on Pennsylvania
Avenue. The National Theatre has operated longer than any other major touring house in the United States.
Though it is still located in the same place on ceremonial Pennsylvania Avenue the structure itself has been
rebuilt six times since it opened in 1835. Because of the National Theatre's scope and size it is best suited to stage
touring Broadway spectacles like Les Miserables and Cats. A bit of history: Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth's father
Junius Brutus Booth was an actor in the first production at the National Theatre.www.nationaltheatre.org.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Having opened in 1971, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts doesn't have the storied past of
the National Theatre, however it has become one of the world's premiere performance spaces showcasing the classics
in performance art while also fostering new talent. Its roots date back to 1958, when President
Dwight D. Eisenhower signed bipartisan legislation creating a National Cultural Center.
The Kennedy Center complex includes two main performance halls, several rehearsal spaces
and smaller stages. The newly renovated Opera House is the main performance space for the Washington National Opera,
which performs under the artistic direction of Plácido Domingo.
The Center enabled Washington to become an international stage,
hosting the American debuts of the Bolshoi Opera and the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, as well as the first-ever U.S. performances
by Italy's legendary La Scala opera company.
Festivals are the most popular events at the Kennedy Center.
Each September, Washington, DC is treated to the Prelude Festival, a two-week gala of performances
to open the season. Since 2000, the Kennedy Center has featured the Millennium Stage,
which offers free performances every night of the week beginning at 6 p.m.
And now, the Kennedy Center is home to a 324-seat Family Theater, allowing the
Center to expand its vibrant family and children's programming