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
1/27

Open Rehearsal: Mariinsky Ballet

Dance scholars present an insider's look at Mariinsky Ballet as they prepare onstage for performance. At the Opera House.
1/30 - 1/31

Company E Presents: Long Road Home

The repertory dance ensemble will perform two world premieres; "Dialogue of a Portrait" by D.C. choreographer Robert J. Priore and a piece by Dallas-based choreographer Joshua L. Peugh. At the Terrace Theater.
1/29 - 1/31

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by conductor Christoph Eschenbach, the NSO performs Tchaikovsky's "Fate," Symphony No. 4 and Violin Concerto with violinist Arabella Steinbacher. Part of "Fantasy and Fate: Tchaikovsky Masterworks.". At the Concert Hall.
Through 1/31

Shear Madness

The audience plays armchair detective in the comedy. At the Theater Lab.
1/24 - 2/1

Mockingbird

Adapted by Julie Jensen from the 2010 award-winning book by Kathryn Erskine, this vibrant and moving world premiere play tells the story of a young girl on the autism spectrum who changes a community.
Through 2/1

Mariinsky Ballet

The Russian ballet company performs a program featuring Hodson's "Le sacre du printemps" inspired by Nijinsky, Fokine's "Le Spectre de la Rose" and "The Swan," and Petipa's "Paquita Grand Pas.". At the Opera House.
2/3

Karine Deshayes

Joined by pianist Carrie-Ann Matheson, the French mezzo-soprano makes her Washington debut with an all-French program of works by Gounod, Bizet, Faure, Berlioz and Duparc. Presented by Vocal Arts DC. At the Terrace Theater.
2/4

Cameron Carpenter

The organist returns to the Kennedy Center with a program featuring works by Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Bach, and William Walton. At the Concert Hall.
2/6

Maceo Parker

At the Atrium.
2/7

Chris Brubeck's Triple Play

At the Terrace Gallery.
2/7

NSO Teddy Bear Concert

NSO violinist Marissa Regni and soprano Kari Paludan perform in a family-friendly program called "Two Divas and a Bear!". At the Family Theater.
2/7

Revelations Workshop with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Learn choreography from Alvin Ailey's signature hit "Revelations.". At the Grand Foyer.
2/6 - 2/7

Zero Hour: Tokyo Rose's Last Tape

The story of a Japanese American radio broadcaster during World War II is brought to the stage for its D.C. premiere. At the Terrace Theater.
2/5 - 2/7

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by conductor Juraj Valcuha, the NSO present's "Fantasy and Fate," a program featuring Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, Stravinsky's "Pulcinella Suite," and Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 with violinist Vilde Frang. At the Concert Hall.
2/3 - 2/8

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.
2/10

Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio

The Kennedy Center's chamber ensemble-in-residence performs piano trios by Haydn, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky. At the Terrace Theater.
1/27 - 2/12

Gigi

Vanessa Hudgens stars in Lerner and Loewe's musical comedy set in Belle Epoque Paris. At the Eisenhower Theater.
2/13

Jenny Scheinman, Brian Blade

At the Terrace Gallery.
2/13

LaChanze

At the Terrace Theater.
2/14

Kurt Elling

At the Terrace Theater.
2/15

Jazz Master Class: Kurt Elling

At the Terrace Gallery.
2/15

NSO Family Concert

Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke's composition set to the poem "Casey at the Bat" is performed in a concert about teamwork. At the Concert Hall.
2/14 - 2/15
2/18

Eric Owens

The bass-baritone teaches a opera master class for emerging artists from the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists Program and others.
2/21

Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Led by conductor Charles Dutoit, the OSR performs Stravinsky's "Song of the Nightingale" and Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" with Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky. At the Concert Hall.
2/19 - 2/21

National Symphony Orchestra

The NSO performs works by Faure and Ravel and conductor Matthias Pintscher leads the U.S. premiere of his violin concerto "Mar'eh" with violinist Karen Gomyo. At the Concert Hall.
2/22

Living the Dream.... Singing the Dream

The Washington Performing Arts Gospel Choirs performs its annual concert celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the Choral Arts Chorus. At the Concert Hall.
2/18 - 2/22

Sleepy Hollow

Director Septime Webre's newest creation was inspired by Washington Irving's short tale, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.". At the Eisenhower Theater.
2/23

Renee Fleming

The soprano performs with pianist Olga Kern in this Star Series concert presented by Washington Performing Arts. At the Concert Hall.
2/24

Opera Lafayette

The company presents "A Wink at the Past: Chamber Music of Handel and Bach" featuring soprano Dominique Labelle, violinist Ryan Brown, cellist Loretta O'Sullivan and harpsichordist Andrew Appel. At the Terrace Theater.
2/28

Eric Owens

At the Terrace Theater.
2/26 - 2/28

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by conductor Herbert Blomstedt the NSO performs an All-Beethoven program featuring Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 with pianist Emanuel Ax. At the Concert Hall.
3/1

Imani Winds

The Grammy Award-nominated quintet performs flutist Valerie Coleman's "Tzigane," excerpts from Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring," Kowalewski's arrangement of Debussy's "Bruyeres.". At the Terrace Theater.
3/1

The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma

The international ensemble celebrates its 15th anniversary by touring with its founder, cellist Yo-Yo Ma. At the Concert Hall.
2/20 - 3/1

Outside the Bachx

Full Circle Production combines hip-hop and classical music for their show. Best for age 8 and older. At the Family Theater.
3/3

Iberian Suite: global arts remix

The festival kicks off with a concert that highlights some of the programs to come including the Arakaendar Choir and Orchestra, PostClassical Ensemble, Eugenia Leon and others. At the Eisenhower Theater.
3/4

Arakaendar Choir and Orchestra

Led by founder Ashley Solomon, the Bolivian choral group presents "Baroque Music from Jesuit Reductions in Bolivia" as part of the Iberian Suite Festival.
3/4

Contos em Viagem -- Cabo Verde

The solo show made up of writings by Cape Verde authors is presented by Portugal's Teatro Meridional and staged as part of the Iberian Suite series. At the Family Theater.
3/4

Master Class: Brazil's Grupo Corpo

An adult class for intermediate to advanced dancers led by members of the Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo.
3/5

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by conductor Jesus Lopez-Cobos, the NSO performs a program of fado or "the soul music of Portugal," as part of the Kennedy Center's festival "Iberian Suite: global arts remix.". At the Concert Hall.
3/7

Lang Lang

The pianist performs Bach's "Italian" Concerto, Tchaikovsky's "The Seasons" and four scherzos by Chopin in this recital presented by the National Symphony Orchestra. At the Concert Hall.
3/6 - 3/7

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by conductor Jesus Lopez-Cobos, the NSO performs works by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and Spanish composers Halffter, de Falla, Turina and Albeniz with Spanish pianist Javier Perianes and Colombian soprano Juanita Lascarro. At the Concert Hall.
3/8

Concha Buika

The two-time Latin Grammy Award-winning Spanish singer performs with pianist Ivan "Melon" Lewis and his Continuum Quartet. Part of the Iberian Suite festival. At the Concert Hall.
3/7 - 3/8

By Heart and Three Fingers Below the Knee

The double bill from Portugal's Mundo Perfeito features a show in which audience member must memorize a poem and another that recalls reports from theater inspectors. Both are staged as part the Iberian Suite series. At the Terrace Theater.
3/9

IBERIAN SUITE: Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras (Spain): Voces, Suite Flamenca

Flamenco star Sara Baras and her company present the D.C. premiere of "Voces, Suite Flamenca.". At the Eisenhower Theater.
2/21 - 3/10

Dialogues of the Carmelites.

The Washington National Opera presents the company premiere of Poulenc's opera about an order of nuns in the French Revolution, in a Francesca Zambello production conducted by Antony Walker and featuring powerhouse mezzo Dolora Zajick as Madame de Croissy. At the Opera House.
3/10 - 3/11

IBERIAN SUITE: PostClassical Ensemble (Spain/U.S.): Iberian Mystics: The Confluence of Faiths

A U.S. premiere multimedia program of music, flamenco dance, poetry, and visual art inspired by a confluence of Islamic, Catholic and Jewish influences. At the Family Theater.
3/10 - 3/11

PostClassical Ensemble

The ensemble presents "Iberian Mystics: The Confluence of Faiths," the U.S. premiere of Antonio Munoz Molina and Joseph Horowitz's multimedia program featuring music, visual art, flamenco dance and poetry. Part of the Iberian Suite: global arts remix. At the Family Theater.
3/13

IBERIAN SUITE: Tres Pablos

Moderated by Marie Arana, this tribute to Casals, Neruda and Picasso features short videos, live music, and interviews with Marta Casals Istomin, widow of Pablo Casals, and Julia Alvarez, a translator of Pablo Neruda. At the Eisenhower Theater.
3/13 - 3/14

What I Heard About the World

Portugal's Mala Voadora and England's Third Angel use current events to inspire their show. Staged as part of the Iberian Suite series. At the Family Theater.
3/12 - 3/14

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by conductor Christoph Eschenbach, the NSO presents "Four French Composers Inspired by Spain," a program featuring Ravel's "Bolero," Debussy's "Iberia," Chabrier's "Espana" and Lalo's "Symphonie espagnole" with violinist Leticia Moreno. Part of Iberian Suite: global arts remix. At the Concert Hall.
3/14 - 3/15

Eugenia Leon

The Mexican singer celebrates Ibero-American female singers in "Las Voces de Mujeres, Voces del Pueblo," a multimedia performance featuring works by composers from 13 countries. Part of the Iberian Suite festival. At the Eisenhower Theater.
3/16

IBERIAN SUITE: Carmen Souza

At the Eisenhower Theater.
3/17 - 3/18

Entremeses

Three short, comedic plays are presented by Spain's Teatro de La Abadia as part of the Iberian Suite series. At the Terrace Theater.
3/18 - 3/19

O Jardim [The Garden]

A family struggles to deal with a man suffering from dementia in this play presented by Brazil's Companhia Hiato as part of the Iberian Suite series. At the Eisenhower Theater.
3/20

Washington National Opera

Under the mentorship bass-baritone and "The Flying Dutchman" star Eric Owen, members of the WNO's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists perform selections from operatic favorites. At the Opera House.
3/21

Ballet 360&Deg;: ABT at 75

Dance critic Alexandra Tomalonis uses video of well-known ballets to take audiences beyond the steps and into the fine craft of making a ballet. Part of the center's Ballet 360&Deg; lecture series.
3/20 - 3/21

IBERIAN SUITE: Piazzologia (Argentina): El Mundo de Piazzolla su Vida y su Obra

Combining music, video and dance, the ensemble traverses the life and major works of tango maestro Astor Piazzolla in a U.S. premiere tribute to his legacy. At the Eisenhower Theater.
3/20 - 3/21

Ode Maritima [Maritime Ode]

Actor Diogo Infante and guitarist Joao Gilin team up for a stage adaptation of a poem by Fernando Pessoa. Staged as part of the Iberian Suite series. At the Terrace Theater.
3/19 - 3/21

National Symphony Orchestra

The orchestra continues conductor Christoph Eschenbach's exploration of Mahler's works with a performance of the composer's Symphony No. 9. At the Concert Hall.
3/7 - 3/21

Washington National Opera

Grammy Award-winning bass-baritone Eric Owens makes his stage role debut in this WNO revival of Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman.". At the Opera House.
3/22

Orquestra Jovem do Estado

Led by maestro Claudio Fruz and joined by soprano Harolyn Blackwell, the orchestra makes its U.S. debut with a program featuring works by Brazilian composers Tom Jobim and Heitor Villa-Lobos. Part of the Iberian Suite festival. At the Concert Hall.
3/21 - 3/22

Somewhere in Quixote

A barber and a priest help Miguel de Cervantes overcome his writer's block and finish "Don Quixote." The play is presented by Spain's Ron Lala Theater Company as part of the Iberian Suite series. At the Family Theater.
3/4 - 3/22

Picasso, Ceramist and the Mediterranean

A carefully curated selection of more than 150 of Pablo Picasso's ceramic pieces that reveal how the prolific artist reshaped the very notions of how clay could be used.
3/24

Sharon Isbin and Isabel Leonard

The guitarist and mezzo-soprano perform Spanish duo and solo works as part of the Kennedy Center festival Iberian Suite: global arts remix. At the Terrace Theater.
3/26

Emerson String Quartet

The eight-time Grammy Award-winning ensemble performs works by Purcell, Beethoven and Ravel. At the Terrace Theater.
3/27

Cassandra Wilson

At the Eisenhower Theater.
3/27

Malcolm Gets

The Tony Award nominee performs as part of the cabaret series curated by Barbara Cook. At the Terrace Theater.
3/28

Jan Lisiecki

The Polish-Canadian pianist performs works by Paderewski and Chopin. At the Terrace Theater.
3/28

Jason Moran

At the Eisenhower Theater.
3/27 - 3/28
3/29

NSO Family Concert

"Sahara Bob" presents "The Magic Horn," a program named for Broughton's four-movement concert work and also featuring Grieg's "Peer Gynt" suites and "Bacchanale" from Saint-Saens's "Samson and Delilah.". At the Concert Hall.
3/24 - 3/29

American Ballet Theatre

American Ballet Theatre returns with Ashton's romantic "Cinderella" and a program featuring Balanchine's "Theme & Variations", Tudor's "Pillar of Fire", and de Mille's "Rodeo". At the Opera House.
3/30

Raphael Severe

The clarinetist performs works by French composers including a new work by Sylvain Picart. At the Terrace Theater.
3/31

Joshua Bell, violin

The violinist performs works by Beethoven, Grieg, Brahms and Bartok with pianist Sam Haywood. At the Concert Hall.
4/1

Stephen Hough

The British pianist performs works by Chopin and Debussy. At the Terrace Theater.
4/3

Nate Smith + Kinfolk

At the Terrace Gallery.
4/2 - 4/4

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by conductor Krzysztof Urbanski,the NSO presents a concert featuring Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10 and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 with pianist Daniil Trifonov. At the Concert Hall.
4/7

Karen Cargill

The Scottish mezzo-soprano and pianist Simon Lepper make their Washington debuts with a recital featuring Richard Wagner's "Wesendonck Lieder" as well as works by Alma Mahler, Gustav Mahler and Edvard Grieg. Presented by Vocal Arts DC. At the Terrace Theater.
4/7

Philadelphia Orchestra

Led by music director Yannick Nezet-Seguin, the orchestra performs Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2 and Grieg's Piano Concerto with pianist Jan Lisiecki. At the Concert Hall.
4/8

Edgar Meyer

The four-time Grammy Award-winning double bassist and MacArthur "Genius" performs Bach's Suite for Cello No. 1 and a new work. At the Terrace Theater.
4/10
4/11

Creative Movement with New York City Ballet

This creative movement class for non-dancers is led by New York City Ballet company members. Enjoy learning movement inspired by the ballet program being danced by NYCB during their Kennedy Center engagement.
4/11

Dianne Reeves and Friends

At the Concert Hall.
4/12

CUA Symphony Orchestra

In celebration of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music's 50th Anniversary, the orchestra and choruses perform led by conductors Simeone Tartaglione, Thomas Pedersen and Les Nestor. At the Concert Hall.
4/12

Jay Campbell

The cellist performs works by Brahms, Carter, Fulmer and Stravinsky as well as Debussy's Sonata for Cello and Piano with pianist Conor Hanick. At the Terrace Theater.
4/11 - 4/12

NSO Teddy Bear Concert

Married violinist Glenn Donnellan of the NSO and Jan Chong perform works from the classical repertoire along with stories, children's songs and sound effects in "Imagination Duo.". At the Family Theater.
4/7 - 4/12

New York City Ballet

The company performs two programs: "20th-Century Classics", featuring three of Balanchine's most iconic ballets, and "21st-Century Choreographers", which includes works by Peck, Ratmansky, Martins, and Wheeldon. At the Opera House.
4/17

The Irene Ryan National Acting Scholarship Auditions

Students compete for scholarships, awards and fellowships. At the Terrace Theater.
4/16 - 4/18

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by conductor Vassily Sinaisky, the NSO performs Rachmaninoff's "The Bells," Borodin's "Prince Igor" Overture and Mozart's Clarinet Concerto with NSO Principal Clarinet Loren Kitt. At the Concert Hall.
4/21

English Baroque Soloists

Led by Sir Eliot Gardiner, the soloists perform Monteverdi's opera "L'Orfeo" with the Monteverdi Choir. At the Concert Hall.
4/25

Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell FOR ADULTS! 201

A master class led by Suzanne Farrell for non-dancers who previously participated in Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell FOR ADULTS.
4/26

NSO Family Concert

The NSO pairs excerpts from 20 of American composer George Gershwin's works with a story of a poor newspaper boy who meets the composer in "Gershwin's Magic Key.". At the Concert Hall.
4/25 - 4/26

TETRISplus

The Netherlands' Arch8 use dance and movement to create different forms during the family-friendly show. At the Family Theater.
4/29

Miro Quartet

Joined by mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, the quartet performs chamber works for voice and strings by Copland, Wolf and Schubert. At the Terrace Theater.
4/29

New World Symphony

In celebration of founder Michael Tilson Thomas's 70th birthday, the NWS makes its Washington debut with a program featuring selections from Schubert's Incidental Music to "Rosamunde," Debussy's "La Mer," Norbert Moret's "En Reve" and Berg's Violin Concerto with violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. At the Concert Hall.
4/30

New York Festival of Song

Joined by soloists Corinne Winter, Theo Lebow and Alexei Lavrov, co-artistic directors and pianists Steven Blier and Michael Barrett present "Letters from Spain: A World of Song from Spanish Poetry," a recital of songs by Schumann, Wolf, Taneyev, Shostakovich, Granados, and Montsalvatge inspired by Spanish poetry. Presented by Vocal Arts DC. At the Terrace Theater.
5/1

National Symphony Orchestra

Using narration, visual aides, actors and musical excerpts, the NSO explores Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in this "Beyond the Score" concert. At the Concert Hall.
5/1

The Blues Hall of Fame Tour

At the Terrace Theater.
5/2

NSO Ensemble Concert

Joined by other NSO performers, cellist and host Yvonne Caruthers presents "Connections: Science & Math and Music," a multimedia program that explores the connections between the three subjects. At the Family Theater.
4/30 - 5/2

National Symphony Orchestra

Led by conductor Christoph Eschenbach, the NSO performs Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 as well as works by Penderecki and J. Strauss Jr with NSO cellists Steven Honigberg, James Lee and David Teie. At the Concert Hall.
5/8

Antonio Hart Organ Trio

At the Terrace Gallery.
5/9

Igor Levit

The pianist performs a work by Ronald Stevenson inspired by Britten's opera, "Peter Grimes.". At the Terrace Theater.
5/9

NSO Kinderclassics

NSO violinist Glenn Donnellan (who plays a fiddle made out of a baseball bat) and Washington Nationals ballpark organist Matthew Van Hoose present the world premiere of "Beethoven at the Ballpark!". At the Family Theater.
5/7 - 5/9

National Symphony Orchestra:

Led by Christoph Eschenbach, the NSO presents a program featuring Mahler's Symphony No. 5 and Sibelius's Violin Concerto with violinist Leonidas Kavakos. At the Concert Hall.
5/10

Paul Lewis

The pianist performs Beethoven's last three sonatas in his first Washington Performing Arts concert since his 2005 debut. At the Terrace Theater.
5/11

Leonidas Kavakos and Christoph Eschenbach

The violinist and pianist perform together in a Fortas Chamber Music Concert. At the Terrace Theater.
5/13

Thierry Escaich

The French organist performs in a recital presented by the National Symphony Orchestra. At the Concert Hall.
5/13 - 5/15

Tour-de-Force: Serenade-The Washington Ballet

The production features an iconic ballet by George Balanchine and a gala-style program of classical and contemporary pieces and excerpts. At the Eisenhower Theater.
5/15 - 5/16
5/15 - 5/16

Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival

At the Terrace Theater.
5/14 - 5/16

National Symphony Orchestra

Conductor and violinist Leonidas Kavakos performs the solo in Bach's Violin Concerto No. 1 and leads the NSO as they perform Ravel's arrangement of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" and Sibelius's "Pelleas and Melisande.". At the Concert Hall.
5/17

Choral Arts Society

Led by conductor Scott Tucker, the choral group performs Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana.". At the Concert Hall.
5/15 - 5/17

Feet Don't Fail Me Now!

Rhythmic Circus uses tap dancing to create a family-friendly show. At the Family Theater.
5/19

The Myriad Trio

The trio performs works for flute, viola, and harp as well as Dvorak's "Slavonic Dances" with Metropolitan Opera Orchestra principal clarinetist Anthony McGill. At the Terrace Theater.
5/29 - 5/30

National Symphony Orchestra

Led conductor by Manuel Lopez-Gomez, the NSO presents a percussion-themed program featuring works by George Gershwin and Antonio Esteves as well as the world premiere of American composer Andy Akiho's new work for steelpan and orchestra with steelpan artist Liam Teague. At the Concert Hall.
5/28 - 5/30

Scottish Ballet

In their Kennedy Center debut, Scottish Ballet infuses drama and dance in a bold new take on Tennessee Williams's "A Streetcar Named Desire". At the Opera House.
5/30 - 5/31

NSO Teddy Bear Concert

Trombones, a garden hose, violins and a funnel horn are played in "Violins and Trombones and Bears, Oh My!". At the Family Theater.
6/6

Francesco Piemontesi

The Swiss-Italian pianist and Queen Elisabeth Competition laureate performs a new work composed for him by the Berlin-based composer/organist Maximilian Schnaus for his D.C. debut. At the Terrace Theater.
6/23 - 6/24

Obsessions by the Polish National Ballet

The company D.C. debut at the Kennedy Center, called "Obsessions", will feature Emmanuel Gat's "Rite of Spring" and "Moving Rooms" and Pastor's "Adagio & Scherzo."
'

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.