Editors' pick

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts photo
Carol Pratt - Kennedy Center

Pedja Muzijevic

The Bosnian-born pianist makes his Washington Performing Arts debut with works by 20th-century composers. Presented by Washington Performing Arts. At the Terrace Theater.
Through 2/7

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Led by artistic director Robert Battle, the dance company returns with new and classic works, including Alvin Ailey's signature piece "Revelations.". At the Opera House.

Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra

Led by Muhai Tang, the ensemble makes its Kennedy Center debut with violinist Dan Zhu and pianist Haochen Zhang. At the Concert Hall.

Marina Piccinini

The flutist performs works by living composers with her husband, pianist Andreas Haefliger. At the Terrace Theater.

Matthew Whitaker

At the Terrace Gallery.

The Whitfield Family Band

At the Terrace Gallery.

Budapest Festival Orchestra

Led by former NSO principal conductor Ivan Fischer, the BFO presents a program of Eastern European music featuring Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 with pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin. At the Concert Hall.

Il Volo

The Italian pop opera trio makes its Kennedy Center debut. At the Concert Hall.

Chris Botti

At the Concert Hall.
2/12 - 2/20

Lost in the Stars

Bass-baritone Eric Owens stars in the Washington National Opera's production of Kurt Weill's last stage work, a tragedy based on author Alan Paton's "Cry, the Beloved Country.". At the Opera House.

Living the Dream...Singing the Dream

The Choral Arts Society of Washington and Washington Performing Arts Gospel Choirs perform their annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. At the Concert Hall.
Through 2/21

OLIVERio: A Brazilian Twist

Charles Dickens's story is re-imagined as a musical set in Rio with a girl disguised as a boy while searching for her mom. Best for age 8 and older. At the Terrace Theater.
2/6 - 2/21

OLIVERio: A Brazilian Twist

Charles Dickens's story is reimagined as a musical set in Rio with a girl disguised as a boy while searching for her mom. Best for age 9 and older. At the Family Theater.

Leah Crocetto

The soprano performs a recital after making her WNO debut in "Dialogues of the Carmelites.". At the Terrace Theater.

Calder Quartet

The foursome performs works by Janacek and Beethoven as well as Los Angeles composer Andrew Norman's "Sabina.". At the Terrace Theater.
2/6 - 2/28

Shear Madness

A comedy-mystery set in Georgetown, audience participation helps solve a mock murder. At the Theater Lab.
3/3 - 3/5

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by Christoph Eschenbach, the NSO performs two Prokofiev symphonies and Bruch's "Scottish Fantasy" with violinist Ray Chen. At the Concert Hall.
3/4 - 3/6

The Language of the Future

A collection of songs and stories about contemporary culture by performance artist Laurie Anderson. At the Terrace Theater.

Eighth Blackbird

The Grammy-winning sextet performs a Fortas Chamber Music concert featuring a world premiere by David T. Little and Bryce Dessner's "Murder Ballades.". At the Terrace Theater.
3/11 - 3/12

World Stages: The Odyssey: From Vietnam to America (Vietnam/United States)

The East Coast premiere of composer-performer Van-Anh Vo's latest, multi-media performance piece. At the Terrace Theater.
3/10 - 3/12

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by Christoph Eschenbach, the orchestra performs works by Brahms as well as the world premiere of Picker's "Opera without Words." Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet performs Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2. At the Concert Hall.

Montreal Symphony

Led by Kent Nagano, the ensemble performs in D.C. for the first time in 30 years. The program features Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring," Debussy's "Jeux" and Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 with pianist Daniil Trifonov. At the Concert Hall.

Paul Jacobs

The Grammy-winning organist plays the Rubenstein Family Organ. At the Concert Hall.

Sir James Galway

The Irish flutist performs accompanied by flutist Lady Jeanne Galway and pianist Phillip Moll. At the Concert Hall.

Javier Camarena

Accompanied by pianist Angel Rodriguez, the tenor performs works by Beethoven, Liszt and Tosti. Presented by Vocal Arts DC. At the Terrace Theater.

Barbara Cook's Spotlight: Frances Ruffelle

The Tony Award-winning original Eponine in Les Miserables on London's West End and Broadway makes her Kennedy Center debut. At the Terrace Theater.

Joseph Moog

The pianist performs works by Beethoven, Liszt and Tchaikovsky. At the Terrace Theater.

Helen Sung Quintet

At the Terrace Gallery.

Maz Jobrani

The founding member of The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour and stand-up comedian headlines an evening of comedy. At the Concert Hall.
3/31 - 4/2

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by Cristian Macelaru, the NSO performs works by Faure, Debussy and Jalbert. Violinist Nikolaj Znaider kicks off his NSO residency with a performance of Brahms's Violin Concerto. At the Concert Hall.

NEA Jazz Masters

At the Concert Hall.

Stefon Harris and Sonic Creed

At the Family Theater.
4/7 - 4/9

National Symphony Orchestra

Nikolaj Znaider completes his NSO residency, leading the orchestra in a program that features Mahler's Symphony No. 1 and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 27 with Benjamin Grosvenor. At the Concert Hall.

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Led by conductor Mariss Jansons, the ensemble presents a program featuring Mahler's Symphony No. 5 and Korngold's Violin Concerto with pianist Leonidas Kavakos. At the Concert Hall.

Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax

The Grammy Award-winning cellist and pianist perform Beethoven's cello sonatas. At the Concert Hall.

Mason Bates and Anne Akiko Meyers with the National Symphony Orchestra

The DJ/Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence, violinist and orchestra present a multimedia symphony as part of the "Declassified" series. At the Concert Hall.

San Francisco Symphony

Led by Michael Tilson Thomas, the ensemble performs Schubert's Symphony No. 8 and Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and tenor Simon O'Neill. At the Concert Hall.
4/14 - 4/16

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by Hugh Wolff, the NSO performs works by Barber and Ives as well as a new violin concerto by Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates with violinist Anne Akiko Meyers. At the Concert Hall.

Julia Bullock

Accompanied by pianist Renate Rohlfing, the soprano performs works by Pierre Revel, John Cage, Faure and Wolf. Presented by Vocal Arts DC. At the Terrace Theater.

Takacs Quartet

The Grammy-winning ensemble performs works by Webern, Dvorak and Beethoven in this Fortas Chamber Music Concert. At the Terrace Theater.

Peter and Will Anderson Quintet

At the Terrace Gallery.

Tracy Morgan: Picking Up The Pieces

The "Saturday Night Live" alum and "30 Rock" actor returns to the Kennedy Center to perform stand-up. At the Concert Hall.

Miranda Sings

The YouTube comedy star sings, performs dramatic readings of hate mail and plays never-before-seen videos. At the Concert Hall.

Antoine Tamestit

The violist performs works by Bach and Ligeti. At the Terrace Theater.
4/23 - 4/24


A three-man production of Herman Melville's masterpiece featuring a variety of musical instruments. Age 7 and older. At the Family Theater.

Josef Spacek and Miroslav Sekera

The violinist and pianist perform Szymanowski's "Mythes" as well as works by Bach, Ysaye, Prokofiev and Saint-Saeans. At the Terrace Theater.

Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran

At the Terrace Theater.

Storm Large with the National Symphony Orchestra

The Pink Martini vocalist joins the NSO for its new "Declassified" series, performing Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht's "The Seven Deadly Sins.". At the Concert Hall.
4/28 - 4/30

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by James Gaffigan, the NSO performs Dvorak's "American Suite," Rodgers's "Carousel Waltz" and Ravel's "La valse." Pink Martini's Storm Lange sings Kurt Weill's "Seven Deadly Sins.". At the Concert Hall.

Michelle DeYoung

Joined by pianist Kevin Murphy, the mezzo-soprano performs works by de Falla, Brahms, Strauss, Marx and Mahler. Presented by Vocal Arts DC. At the Terrace Theater.

The Washngton Chorus

"Parisian Spring" includes works by French composers and French organist Thierry Escaich. With the Washington National Cathedral Choir of Boys and Girls. At the Concert Hall.

Ben Folds and yMusic

At the Concert Hall.

Christopher Houlihan

The organist plays the Kennedy Center's Rubenstein Family Organ. At the Concert Hall.

Enso String Quartet with Avi Avital

The ensemble performs works by Beethoven and Sibelius as well as David Bruce's "Cymbeline" with mandolinist Avi Avital. At the Terrace Theater.

Ambrose Akinmusire

At the Terrace Theater.

Yury Shadrin and Tian Lu

The married musicians present a program of piano works. At the Terrace Theater.
5/5 - 5/7

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by Andrew Litton, the NSO presents an all-Russian program featuring Shostakovich's Symphony No. 11 and Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with violinist Vadim Gluzman. At the Concert Hall.

Itzhak Perlman and Emanuel Ax

The violinist and pianist perform works by Mozart, Faure, Strauss and others. At the Concert Hall.
5/13 - 5/14

Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival

At the Terrace Theater.

Renee Fleming and Norm Lewis

The soprano and baritone perform Broadway classics by Rodgers and Hammerstein and the American Songbook. At the Concert Hall.
4/30 - 5/17

Ring Cycle: The Rhinegold

The Washington National Opera presents the first chapter of Wagner's Norse mythology-inspired "Der Ring des Nibelungen" cycle. At the Opera House.
5/2 - 5/18

Ring Cycle: The Valkyrie

The Washington National Opera presents the second chapter of Wagner's Norse mythology-inspired "Der Ring des Nibelungen" cycle. At the Opera House.
5/18 - 5/19

Ireland 100: The Plough and the Stars (Abbey Theatre)

Abbey Theatre's production of Sean O'Casey's classic drama. Directed by Sean Holmes. At the Eisenhower Theater.
5/4 - 5/20

Ring Cycle: Siegfried

The Washington National Opera presents the third chapter of Wagner's Norse mythology-inspired "Der Ring des Nibelungen" cycle. At the Opera House.

Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists

The young artists perform arias and scenes from well-known operas, and American conductor James Gaffigan makes his Washington National Opera debut. At the Opera House.
5/20 - 5/21

NSO Pops: Boyz II Men

At the Concert Hall.
5/19 - 5/21

Ireland 100: All That Fall

The Irish company Pan Pan Theatre's unique staging of Samuel Beckett's 1957 radio drama "All That Fall." Audiences are immersed in an atmospheric chamber of multiple speakers and ambient lights. At the Terrace Gallery.

Ireland 100: Camille O'Sullivan

At the Terrace Theater.
5/20 - 5/22

Ireland 100: The Girl Who Forgot to Sing Badly

Peggy O'Hegarty wakes up one morning to find winter has arrived and her parents and entire town have disappeared. Can her off-key voice save the day? A one-man show starring storyteller Louis Lovett. Best for age 7 and older. At the Family Theater.
5/6 - 5/22

Ring Cycle: Twilight of the Gods

The Washington National Opera presents the final chapter of Wagner's Norse mythology-inspired "Der Ring des Nibelungen" cycle. At the Opera House.
5/24 - 5/25

Ireland 100: Tiny Plays for Ireland and America

Stories submitted by citizens of Ireland and America offers glimpses into contemporary Ireland and the legacy of America's first Irish-Catholic president, President John F. Kennedy. Presented in collaboration with Fishamble: The New Play Company and the Irish Arts Center. Best for age 14 and older. At the Terrace Gallery.
6/2 - 6/4

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by Christoph Eschenbach, the NSO presents a program featuring works by Haydn and Schumann as well as the world premiere of Shepherd's Violin Concerto with violinist Leila Josefowicz. At the Concert Hall.
6/14 - 7/10

Kinky Boots

The Broadway musical about a young man who inherits a shoe factory from his father and enlist a drag queen's help to bolster business.

Editorial Review

Kennedy Center Snapshot

Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, Sept. 11, 2009

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" (Oct. 29-Nov. 21), as well as lighter offerings such as "Young Frankenstein" (Dec. 15-Jan. 10). "In any given year," says Max Woodward, the center's vice president of theater programming, "you can see practically anything you're interested in."

Where to eat? Two in-house restaurants offer the most convenience: the cafeteria-style KC Cafe and the fancier Roof Terrace Restaurant. Off-campus, there isn't much in the immediate neighborhood, but Notti Bianche (202-298-8085; http://www.nottibianche.com) and Dish + Drinks (202-338-8707; http://www.dishdc.com) are good options in nearby hotels.

Concession-stand fare: A cut above: prepared sandwiches and baked goods; beer, wine, cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks.

Tickets: Ticket prices vary widely, depending on the production. Seats for "Streetcar" in the Eisenhower Theater, for example, start at $58 for the side balcony and run to $110 for the box tier. Prime orchestra seats for this show will set you back $80 to $90, depending on the performance.

Getting there: The center is an eight-minute walk from the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro station. Or catch a free shuttle, departing every 15 minutes from the 23rd Street curb just outside the subway entrance. On-site parking is $18.

Season spotlight: Three Terrence McNally plays, including one D.C. premiere, in three theaters next spring: "Golden Age" (March 12-April 4 in the Family Theater); "The Lisbon Traviata" (March 20-April 11 in the Terrace Theater); and "Master Class" (March 25-April 18 in the Eisenhower Theater).

Kennedy Center Overview

Opened in 1971, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has become one of the nation's busiest performing arts venues, with more than 3,000 performances that play before nearly two million patrons each year. It is home to the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Ballet and the Washington Opera, and hosts artists from around the world. The center's profile raised even higher recently, thanks to a repertory festival of Stephen Sondheim musicals in 2002 and the beginning of a five-year partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2003.
-- Brad Hathaway

Here are the primary venues of the center:

Family Theater
Opened in the former American Film Institute Theater space in December 2005, the 324-seat theater is home to the Kennedy Center's performances for children.

Millennium Stage
Located at either end of the Grand Foyer are the two stages for the free concert series, offering open-to-the-public performances every evening (except Dec. 24) at 6. These shows are simultaneously fed to the Internet and can be viewed live from streaming video-equipped, Internet-connected computers anywhere in the world.
-- Brad Hathaway

Concert Hall
A renovated Concert Hall opened in October 1997 with better acoustics and improved access for people with disabilities. From onstage box seats you can see the conductor's face. Some chorus seats, behind the stage and facing out into the audience offer a "musician's-eye-view" of the proceedings. The handsome hall has plush, dusty-red seats, gold-colored checkerboards inlaid on the fronts of the balconies, and wooden panels placed throughout the house. Among the original features retained are the crystal chandeliers, which have been reconfigured. The embossed hexagonal patterns on the ceiling have been buffed up but remain intact. The largest of the Kennedy Center auditoriums, the Concert Hall has 2,518 seats.
-- Beth Brophy

Eisenhower Theater
A friendly looking bronze bust of Dwight Eisenhower peers down from the box tier of the Eisenhower Theater. At 1,142 seats, the Eisenhower is the smallest of the three theaters on the main level of the Kennedy Center. There is something cozy about sinking into a plush red seat surrounded by wood-paneled walls as the lights high above your head fade and the red curtain rises to reveal a new performance. Although the exclusive box tier claims the most-expensive seats, the orchestra rows often offer a more intimate connection with the performance, because the seats are physically closer to those on stage. The first tier proves a good vantage point for taking in the whole picture and the reactions of the theatergoers below.
-- Nicole Lewis

Opera House
There is no mistaking the grandeur of the place -- the exquisite Lobmeyr crystal chandelier, a gift from Austria, dwarfs the one used in "The Phantom of the Opera." The theater has 2,318 seats and one of the largest stages of its kind in the country. Productions tend to be big and flashy, not to mention pricey, although there's always standing room if the show is sold out. Ballets, musical theater and operas are performed here, and patrons like to get gussied up for a night out at the Opera House, especially on the weekends, but no official dress-code exists. The four levels of the theater can give your legs a real work-out: orchestra, box tier, first tier and second tier. The box tier claims the most expensive tickets and if you are lucky, you'll sit near the White House box, which is reserved by the White House and usually occupied by someone or other from the administration (former first daughter Chelsea Clinton was a fan of the ballet). The Kennedy Center Opera House is perhaps best known nationally as the home of the annual Kennedy Center Honors recognizing lifetime contribution to the arts. Taped at the center in early December, with the president and first lady in attendance, the show normally airs on television the week between Christmas and New Year's.
-- Nicole Lewis

Terrace Theater
Take the elevator in the Hall of States to the second level of the Kennedy Center and you'll discover two things: great theater spaces and great views. The theater closest to the notorious Watergate complex is the 512-seat Terrace Theater. A bicentennial gift from Japan, the interior swims in deep purple with velvet lavender seats, each row on a gentle grade affording perfect sightlines to the stage. The most traditional and the most quirky programming can materialize in this space. Each spring the Terrace Theater presents its chamber music series, showing off new artists and old favorites. Each fall, the theater transforms into a venue for the cutting edge. This theater has an intimate setting and generally cheaper ticket prices. And you can't beat the views if you choose to stroll outside on the Roof Terrace during intermission.

Remember to pick up tickets for the Terrace on the main level in the Hall of States box office. If you arrive unfashionably late and have to wait a few minutes to be seated, don't despair: A TV monitor across from a comfy couch (purple, of course) displays the action on stage.
-- Nicole Lewis

Theater Lab
By day, the Theater Lab at the Kennedy Center entertains children seated on rows of orange-carpeted benches. By night, '70s disco music blares from a tacky hair-salon set and an audience of all ages watches "Shear Madness," the half mystery, half farce that has been ensconced here since the 1988 season. The long-running show, plus staged readings of plays in progress, is the bill for the Lab, originally conceived as an experimental theater space (Willem Dafoe and Gary Sinise played here for free once upon a time). There is no curtain; the set sits naked on stage, giving audiences a sense of being part of the show. Black swatches of material create the theater's walls. Inches behind the fabric lies the production office and dressing rooms. With 399 seats, this is the smallest and sparest of the Kennedy Center's performing spaces; the atmosphere is functional, rather than elegant. It's a place for children to feel comfortable for what may be their first introduction to live theater.
-- Nicole Lewis

The KC Jazz Club enlivens the intimate, roof-level Theater Gallery.

Tours at the Kennedy Center

This Free Tour Is Just the Ticket

By Amy Orndorff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 27, 2008

There is a certain magnificence about the Kennedy Center with its red-carpeted Grand Foyer. Its seats have held royalty, presidents and those who can pay more than $100 to witness the best that the arts have to offer.

What makes the Kennedy Center extraordinary is that its mission is to make the arts accessible to everyone from America's most notable citizens to its most ordinary ones. You probably know about free Millennium Stage shows daily at 6 p.m., but did you know that you can get into the Kennedy Center's theaters -- without buying a ticket -- as part of free daily tours?

On a recent Sunday morning, the 10 people who stood in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall admiring the organ with its 4,144 pipes and 11 Hadelands crystal chandeliers were in jeans and tennis shoes. They were visitors from abroad as well as area residents, but one thing was clear: Everyone was, well, ordinary.

Members of the Friends of the Kennedy Center, a 500-person volunteer group, lead 45-minute tours whenever someone stops by their kiosk on the main foyer level. Positioned near the elevators from the parking garage, the tour leaders are the first people visitors see when they walk in. A new tour starts about every 10 minutes.

Brochures for self-guided tours are available, but the real fun is going with a docent, who takes guests into the expansive theaters and discusses little-known facts about the center. Did you know that the ceiling in the Concert Hall can be raised and lowered to create the best acoustics possible?

The docents are quick to point out that the nation's home for the performing arts is filled with gifts from other countries: curtains, artwork and even a theater. With that kind of international presence, there's little doubt that the Kennedy Center is truly for everyone.

WHEN SHOULD I GO?Tours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Go as early as possible on the weekends since certain theaters close for matinees. During the week, later is better. Take off work early, tour the center, find happy hour deals at the center's kiosks and catch the Millennium Stage show.

WHERE IS IT? 2700 F St. NW (Metro: Foggy Bottom-GWU, with free shuttles). Tours depart from the kiosk on the main level, midway between the entrance plaza and the Grand Foyer. If you can't find it, anyone in a red jacket will point you in the right direction.

WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION? 202-416-8340 or http://www.kennedy-center.org.