Theater 101 photo
(Richard A. Lipski - The Post)

Theater 101

Michael O'Sullivan | Washington Post Staff Writer  |  Updated 07/14/2010

The Washington area is thick with theaters, so we've put together this guide to help the novice sort out the local scene.

 

Ford's Theatre

Washington, DC

Recently restored, the theater where Abraham Lincoln was shot is not just vastly more comfortable and audience friendly. It also aims to make its mark artistically, with a mix of crowd-pleasers such as "Little Shop of Horrors."

 

Olney Theatre Center

Olney, MD

With four performance spaces of varying sizes (one outdoor stage, a barnlike historic hall, a state-of-the-art contemporary house and a small black box), the theater doesn't have a single niche.

 

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Washington, DC

This massive complex overlooking the Potomac River has seven stages (nine if you count the two free Millennium stages in the Grand Foyer) and is one of the best places to catch world-class talent such as Cate Blanchett, appearing in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

 

Round House Theatre

Bethesda, MD

Performing out of its six-year-old theater in downtown Bethesda and a satellite black box in Silver Spring, Round House features a 400-seat space notable for its wide stage (best viewed, for lovers of good set design, from the balcony). Known for often provocative adaptations of literary works, Round House can't be dismissed as a purveyor of bland, suburban entertainment.

 

Shakespeare Theatre Company - Harman Hall

Washington, DC

Why is the company, which also performs at Lansburgh Theatre, so good at making the greatest works in the English language accessible to a mass audience? Artistic director Michael Kahn attributes that to recruiting the best talent from around the world -- onstage and behind the scenes -- and to the theater's longer-than-usual rehearsal periods and previews.

 

Signature Theatre

Arlington, VA

Winner of the 2009 Tony Award for regional theater, Signature is known for reinvigorating shows from the musical-theater canon, as well as producing newer works. From the light show under the stairs to the people-watching in the lounge-like lobby, the space crackles with what artistic director Eric Shaeffer calls "creative energy."

 

Studio Theatre

Washington, DC

Studio, which began as an acting conservatory, features four smallish theaters, none of which puts the audience very far from the actors. "We want audiences to see them cry and laugh," says artistic director Joy Zinoman.

 

Woolly Mammoth Theatre

Washington, DC

It's hard to imagine, but the enfant terrible of Washington theater, known for edgy, new material, is turning 30 years old this season.

 

Synetic Theatre

+ Multiple Locations

Fusing original music, dance drama and a little text, the young company -- which has no permanent home -- has a way of telling stories that makes it one of the hottest tickets in town. Synetic performs its brand of intensely physical, very nearly wordless theater at the Rosslyn Spectrum, the Lansburgh Theatre and the Kennedy Center's Family Theater.

 

Go Out Lists
A fun way to save and share your favorites

These are Post writers' picks, but what are yours? Make your own list to show others what you recommend. Here's how to get started.

 
 
 
 
 
What You've Recently Viewed On Going Out Guide

E-mail This List to a Friend

Theater 101

(Enter the e-mail address of the recipient(s), separated by commas. Please limit to 10 recipients. )

chars typed
 
Submit
 
 
 
 
Cancel
 
 
 
 
 

Save to Go Out List

You must be signed in to complete this action. Sign In or Register

Editors' Picks: Theater 101
Expand
What is this toolbar at the bottom of my screen?
It's a new way to save your ideas about places to go and shows to see in Washington, and it can help you find things to do with your friends.
See something interesting?
Click on the I want to go button to add it to your Want to go list. The number on the button shows how many people want to go. If you're signed in with a Facebook account, your friends can see where you'd like to go.
Already been there?
If you have been to a place or event already, click the I've been there button to add it to your Been there list. The number shows how many people have been there. If you're signed in with a Facebook account, your friends can see where you've been.
Where are my lists?
The things you add to your Want to go and Been there lists will be saved for you. Click on your username anytime to view your list and see all those ideas.
When you want to keep your plans private, turn off the sharing toggle. You'll be able to save items to your lists without sharing them on Facebook.
Why should I sign in with Facebook?
It can help you make plans with friends for things to do together. When you share your Want to go and Been there lists with your Facebook friends, it's easy to see when you and your friends want to go to the same place.
Close
For a better experience, Please login with Facebook
What are the benefits of connecting with Facebook?
Sharing your ideas about places to go and things to see just got easier. Share your Want to go and Been there lists with Facebook friends and see where your friends want to go or where they've been and make plans together.
Ready to get started?
Log in to Facebook
Close