Washington's performing arts scene has an international reputation. Anything on Broadway ends up being presented in a theater in Washington DC. Also, a Washington DC theater includes excellent repertory theater troupes, and fine ballet, opera, and symphony companies. Rock musicians, major comedy shows, and great performers worldwide consider Washington DC a mandatory stop whilst touring.
There are many fabulous performance venues in Washington DC, but perhaps the most significant is the Kennedy Center. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America's National Cultural Center. In its 30th year, the Kennedy Center continues to fulfill Kennedy's vision, presenting the greatest performers and performances from across America and around the world, nurturing new works and young artists, and serving the nation as a leader in arts education. Artistic Director Placido Domingo's guidance has elevated the Washington Opera to world-class prominence, regularly selling out the Kennedy Center Opera House.
The National Theater DC, which is the oldest historic theater to have maintained a continuous business operation, features favorite shows and premieres that have universal appeal and/or are iconic to the national identity. This historic Washington DC landmark playhouse (known as the "Theatre of the Presidents" since 1835) is in the Penn Quarter arts district, close to many other tourist sites. Another national theater DC offers downtown - also well reputed amongst Washington DC theaters - is Ford's Theatre. A living monument to Abraham Lincoln's memory, Ford's Theatre offers plays and musicals that support the messages of family, multiculturalism, and the mosaic composition of American culture.
Considered one of the best ballet companies in America,
the Washington Ballet was founded in 1976 by the renowned
American ballet leader Mary Day. The company is esteemed
worldwide for its rigorous production values, its creative
integrity, its relentless pursuit of the absolute best
ballet can offer, presented in numerous Washington DC
theaters. Also for the classically minded is The Shakespeare
Theatre. Under the stewardship of Michael Kahn, Artistic
Director since 1986, this Washington DC theater presents
five classic plays each season, in its intimate theater
in DC's artsy Pennsylvania
Another major theater in Washington DC is Arena Stage. The primary mission of Arena Stage is to create performances that exhibit the wild, deep, and passionate side of the American spirit. Arena has vastly talented resources, and can produce a wide range of projects, from huge epics to intense drama. They focus on themes of the Americas, when choosing their classic productions and play premieres.
There are also several Washington DC theaters offering contemporary fare. When the Warner Theatre opened in 1924, it received acclaim as an extremely beautiful building, featuring a stupendous lobby of gold leaf and marble, and a similar huge theater with glorious chandeliers. Currently, having just been restored at great expense, the Warner presents dance, film, comedy, Broadway productions and music concerts. Also cutting-edge, The Studio Theatre, founded in 1978, is the third largest producing theater in Washington DC, recognized as a Major Cultural Institution in the nation's capital. The Studio is Washington's premiere stage for the best in contemporary theater.
The newest among Washington DC theaters is the Smithsonian Discovery Theater, dedicated to offering the best in live performing arts for young people. Each season more than a dozen productions feature storytelling, puppetry, acting and dancing, music and mimicry, in well-known children's stories and folk tales from around the globe innovatively presented. There truly is something here for everyone!