The arts in D.C.: Take in a show at the Kennedy Center

by Jill Berry on August 13, 2010

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

If you only have two days in Washington, D.C., you will probably want to visit the war memorials and monuments on the National Mall and pop into one or two of the Smithsonian museums. But if your trip to D.C. is three days or more, you should definitely consider seeing a show at the Kennedy Center.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is home to several performance spaces. Overlooking the Potomac River, the Kennedy Center is located off Rock Creek Parkway at F Street. It presents more than 2,000 performance of theater, musicals, dance, orchestral, jazz, and cutting-edge multimedia programs each year.

Shows from Broadway generally make a stop at the Kennedy Center. The touring production of the Broadway hit Mary Poppins will be at the Kennedy Center through August 22 in the Opera House.  A staple at the Kennedy Center is Shear Madness — a whodunnit set in Georgetown — in the Theater Lab. Shear Madness is the second longest running show in the U.S., and it combines audience participation with up-to-the-minute D.C. references to.

But there’s something for everyone. Musical theater, opera, and ballet can be found at the Opera House, the site of the illustrious Kennedy Center Honors. The Eisenhower Theater is the location for theater, dance, and opera productions. The Concert Hall is the home of the National Symphony Orchestra. Smaller stages can be found as well. Families will enjoy the intimate 320-seat Family Theater. The Terrace Theater is the ideal setting for chamber music, jazz, recitals, and more.

To find out about performances during your visit, visit the Kennedy Center website.

Stopping by the Kennedy Center, but don’t have time to see a full performance? The Millennium Stage is the site of a unique free program of performances 365 days per year.  You can catch the live broadcast from the Millennium Stage each day at 6pm EST. To find out who will be performing during your visit, visit the Millennium Stage section of the Kennedy Center website.

There are several hotels in close proximity to the Kennedy Center. The Fairmont Hotel is close by with one of D.C.’s largest health clubs. Another option is the Westin Grand Hotel, which has spacious bathrooms with deep tubs. 

If taking Metro, use the Orange or Blue line to Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro station. Once at Foggy Bottom Metro, there is a free, frequent Kennedy Center shuttle. On Monday through Friday the shuttle runs from 9:45 a.m. to midnight; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to midnight; Sundays, noon to midnight; and holidays, 4 p.m. to midnight.

The Kennedy Center performance spaces are sandwiched between two Halls:  the Hall of States and the Hall of Nations. The Shuttle bus stops at the entrance to the Hall of Nations. If you are traveling from your hotel by taxi, you will be dropped in front of the Hall of States entrance. Visitors old and young will marvel at the enormous flags stretching the length of each Hall. The Hall of States features this nation’s flags in the order that each state was admitted to the Union; the vibrant flags in the Hall of Nations are from countries that are diplomatically aligned with the United States.

Once in the Kennedy Center visitors should proceed to the Main Box Office in the Hall of States or the Concert Hall Box Office in the Hall of Nations to purchase tickets. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone at 202-467-4600 or 1-800-444-1324.

When not taking her children to see a show, Jill blogs at Musings from Me. I was given a ticket to see Mary Poppins as part of my review. The views expressed in this article are my own.

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