Looking for good theater, opera, ballet, musicals, etc in the DC metro area
May 9, 2011 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Looking for good theater, opera, ballet, musicals, etc in the DC metro area

I went to the opera at the kennedy center recently and really enjoy it, so now I want to try and make an effort to see more performance in the area. However, not being from here I'm not sure where I should be looking....I especially don't want to overlook good, smaller companies that put on great shows (and probably don't cost as much!).

So obviously, I know about the kennedy center, and have also been looking at the washington ballet, but I'd love any and all performance companies (or good blogs or sites that highlight good events in the area) that are worth checking out.

Also, and this may sound ignorant, but what is the dress code for not-opera? Is ballet suits? How about a musical?

posted by wooh to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
DCist is a good source for news on what the smaller theaters are doing. As far as a "dress code" I think DC is a pretty casual town. I've been to plays and musicals wearing nice jeans and tops for a matinee.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:49 AM on May 9, 2011

My wife and I have been enthusiastic subscribers to the Shakespeare Theatre Company for three seasons. Very high quality productions with excellent set design. And each season is only about half Shakespeare -- they put on works by Moliere, Oscar Wilde, Harold Pinter and others.

At least at the STC, dress code is slightly dressy. Jeans and a button up shirt fine for guys, if that helps.
posted by gabrielsamoza at 11:57 AM on May 9, 2011

Seconding the Shakespeare Theatre Company. I haven't seen of their shows yet (always sold out of the cheap seats) but I hear good things about the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

I've only seen one play by No Rules Theatre Co. (their recent production of "Touch"), but it blew me away, and I'm keeping an eye on their schedule for the future.

If you're up to take some (generally less expensive) chances on smaller, odder stuff, get yourself on the Capital Fringe mailing list.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:19 PM on May 9, 2011

If your schedule is flexible, keep an eye on TicketPlace to find half-price deals on seats to many DC theaters. It's a great way to explore different options without shelling out too much money to do so.
posted by arco at 12:28 PM on May 9, 2011

I've seen some neat performances at Signature Theatre in Arlington (which is not near the Metro, unfortunately).
posted by exogenous at 1:45 PM on May 9, 2011

We've got theater coverage at We Love DC. In addition to DCist which Joan mentioned you can also follow what City Paper writes; they even have a weekly email newsletter which is a good way of watching what's currently available. Personally I think DC Theater Scene - while run by lovely people - is too Leonard Maltin in their love of everything, but they are voluminous in their coverage. Might be a better place to find stuff than pick stuff.

Then again I imagine they think I'm too big a hard-ass so you pick your own poison :)

Arco's mention of TicketPlace is a good one for discounts. You might also want to sign up for TravelZoo's local deals; they have half-price theater offerings all the time, including things that are likely to have a good amount of interest (like the return of Arena's OKLAHOMA! production this summer). Additionally plenty of places have their own discount deal - Arena just altered their deal to be a pay-your-age plan for folks 30 and under.

Kudos on your interest in smaller companies. Personally I think that's where some of the most interesting stuff comes from; I've got a serious grudge about productions that seem like they're trying to reproduce tv/movie experiences rather than leveraging the uniqueness of theater. Our local companies often do interesting stuff (maybe by necessity but who cares why?).

No Rules has done some neat stuff and you might also look at Taffety Punk. I've found both uneven over their short lifetimes but I give them both credit for taking risks (except that Charlie Brown thing. WTF, No Rules?) and they're a price that allows for rolling the dice.

You're also lucky that Fringe will be along soon. More odd little cheap ways to sample than you can shake a stick at. Unfortunately about 1/3 of it will be uninspired lame-o cabaret or old standards but there's still some real effort at doing different and interesting things. Last year there was a Red Riding Hood take that I thought was fantastic.

Other notes:

exogenous is right that Signature isn't near the metro but it's just 2 blocks from a major bus station. One of the lines - I think it's the 23C - runs between Ballston and Crystal City metro stations and stops there. So you can grab it from either station, depending on what line is more convenient to you, and be there in very little time.

You may also want to look into Synetic, the company that does silent productions with a strong dance and costume content. Their Lear just ended - Don Quixote is up next - and they're in Arena's old temporary space in Crystal City now. Very metro accessible.
posted by phearlez at 2:12 PM on May 9, 2011

Response by poster: I have a car, so I do not care about metro accessibility. Thanks for the awesome recommendations, I am loving it (maybe I'll come to like DC in the process...). Definitely looking forward to any and all recommendations :)
posted by wooh at 2:17 PM on May 9, 2011

Seconding Shakespeare Theatre Company and also Arena Stage. I never made it to Signature Theater while I was in DC (despite all the time I spent in the Shirlington area) but I heard great reviews of stuff there. The one Taffety Punk show I went to was weeeeeeeird but also the kind of thing that I totally believe in supporting, and the performers are extremely nice people, so I have to put in a plug for them.

(P.S. phearlez - you write for We Love DC? I love you guys! I am friends with someone who was an occasional blogger there but seems to have disappeared lately...)
posted by naoko at 3:39 PM on May 9, 2011

Goldstar.com is another discount ticket service that will alert you to events and cheap tickets to them.
posted by Xalf at 4:39 PM on May 11, 2011

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