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Washington D.C. and Maryland Performing Arts City Guide

September 20, 2021

Music, Dance, Drama – Washington D.C. and Maryland house some of the finest performing arts venues and performances in America. 

Do you wish to see ballet or contemporary? 

Are you in the mood of watching plays or musicals? 

Would you rather visit a jazz club or a National opera?

You don’t have to choose one because the U.S. Capitol has it all!

Starting from The Walnut Street Theatre in 1808, America’s performing arts are highly influenced by British theater. In this city guide, we will share the best places you can visit to enjoy the rich performing arts culture of this iconic hub of The United States. 

Washington D.C. Performing Arts

Speaking of performing arts, how can we forget the capital of America. The constituent state of Washington D.C. lies on the northwestern corner of 48 other states. Famous for its theatrical performances and jazzy clubs, this is the perfect place to visit if you wish to see performing arts in all their glory. Here are some of the places you must visit during your trip to Washington D.C.:

Kennedy Center

(image credit: Kennedy Center)

Washington’s most iconic theatre, the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, hosts over 2200 world-class performances every single year! This vibrant cultural hub is home to thousands of highly talented artists. Launched at a budget of $30 million, back in 1962, Kennedy Center is one of the largest theatres bearing over 2 million visitors yearly.

Did I mention their outreach programs? Well, Kennedy Center has outreach programs in 50 states and 29 different countries. The volunteer corp here speaks around 27 languages. So if you are a fan of historic, rich culture being depicted into world-class talent, Kennedy Center is the perfect representation of it.

The National Theatre

Famously known as the ‘Theatre of Presidents’, Washington’s National Theatre is one of the best portrayals of performing arts. Located right in the heart of DC, the National Theatre is the oldest organization operating on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Here, you will find the highest caliber performing arts programs from Broadway productions to award-winning entertainment, and from world-class educational programming to the richest history presentation. Some of the most popular shows here include Alton Brown Live, Pretty Woman, Tootsie, and Come From Away. 

Led by James L. Nederlander, the National Theatre continues to give the most impressive theatrical performances. Built near the White House, it is actually the nation’s oldest venue still presenting touring Broadway. This theatre showcases the enhancing the vibrant cultural and economic landscape of the Washington area.

Washington National Opera

Five decades of countless artistic leaps, 1000s of quality productions, and over 500 successful shows – welcome to the Washington National Opera. This exquisite hub has earned its position through the variety of its new, rich production pieces and significant musicals – the kind that is rarely presented on today’s opera stages. 

Washington National Opera has been hailed for its work with operas on the epic scale. The Opera is also well-known for its discovery and nurturing of important young talent and the international collaboration system it has put in place with leading foreign opera companies to bring us world-class variety when it comes to screening performing arts.

Blues Alley Club

(photo credit: DCist)

Let’s switch the mood. This one is Washington’s oldest continuing jazz supper club! Blue Alley takes pride in bringing us 50 years of funk and soul. Located at Wisconsin Avenue, this one is a must-visit place. 

This red brick carriage house has hosted performances from many renowned artists including Eva Cassidy, Charlie Byrd, Nancy Wilson, and Dizzy Gillespie. Also, if you are a foodie like us, know that Blues Alley specializes in authentic Creole cuisine!

Alice’s Jazz & Cultural Society

This non-profit jazz club in the Brookland neighborhood is a community-oriented space for musicians and listeners. You can come here to enjoy snacks with weekly jazz shows and enjoy music from budding artists. 

The shows run from 18:00hrs to 21:00 hrs every Wednesday to Friday and, on nights without shows, Alice’s jazz club is available for community use. This small space is perfect for getting a sneak peek of Washington community culture.

Maryland Performing Arts

Speaking of performing arts, the second-best place to visit is the Maryland area. This blue crab state of the US is extremely popular for its high-tech equipment and manufacturing. But that’s not our target at the moment. With regards to performing arts, Maryland offers music, drama, opera, theatre …. everything!

Here are some of the places that you absolutely HAVE to visit:

The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

Opened in 2001, the Clarice Smith art center is all about the future of art. Here, the next generation of creative innovators are educated, trained, and presented, with the experience of past artists. At this art center, you will find 6 different performance venues.

The Carfitz foundation theatre is a black box theatre with a capacity of 86 people. This one is purely for special events, lecture meetings, and performances. The Dance Theatre, at the other end, is a 190 seat capacity theatre built with wood sprung floor. Here, you will get to see world-class musical dance performances. 

The Deckelbaum concert hall has a capacity of over 1500 people. Here you get a wonderful view of the stage and big sweeping sounds of ensembles. Kay and Kogod theatres are both multi-purpose and can accommodate large casts with elaborate sets. The Glidenhorn recital hall is more like an intimate jewel theatre specifically built for solo and chamber artists.

So which venue would you like to visit?

Hippodrome Theatre

(image credit: Hippodrome Theatre)

Seven decades of top vaudeville performances, revitalized city spirit, and transformed structure – the Hippodrome Theatre is a place you don’t want to miss. This art center has numerous amenities which enhance the experience of live theatre. For instance, you will find ample parking space within a short distance. Similarly, abundant cafe, lobby spaces, and restrooms are available. The Hippodrome Theatre is here to provide world-class entertainment to you since its stunning renovation in 2004.

Imagination Stage

In the 40+ years of its existence, The Imagination stage has remained one of the most dedicated performing art centers embracing innovation and reaching young individuals. Their specialty lies in the theatre productions they carry out to showcase cultural divides and uplift the suppressed, underrepresented voices. 

Some of the impressive initiatives by the Imagination stage include 10 seconds, iOYEME, Youth & Police partnership, and voice beyond the bars. Every single project is focused to bring the voice of communities and build positive relationships between individuals.

Did I mention you have the opportunity to act on stage? Because at Imagination theatre, the focus is on performance and production. Individuals can actually take up 1-2 week courses and experience the summer production.

The Maryland Cultural and Conference Center

Also known as MC3, the Maryland cultural and conference center is a multileveled hub spread over an area of 65000 sq. ft. This world-class cultural and conferencing center holds a seating capacity of over 1200. 

All year round, MC3 offers a full season of arts programming. It has one of the largest outdoor performing art venues that represent all of the cultural heritage within our community. Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and technology, this center offers first-rate acoustics to viewers.

Want to enjoy Mc3 to the fullest? Grab your blankets (or umbrellas) and kick back while enjoying the live outdoor performances. Multiple vendors are also available for your hunger needs. The performances include a vast variety of contemporary jazz, rock n’ roll, party pop, and Irish bands.

Modell Performing Arts Center at Lyric

This non-profit performing art center is an extremely popular entertainment venue in Baltimore. The reason behind their fame is their diverse audience (from Baltimore and Maryland combine). Here, you will find amazing, historic performances such as Dave Chappelle, Disney Junior, Bill Maher, Alvin Ailey, and Robin Williams. 

The Modell Performing arts center has a variety of youth-centric music, comedy, and dance to offer. Since its making in 1894, this center has brought some of the best local events, live entertainment shows, and concerts. If you are a fan of great sight lines, warm customer support, and an outclass performing arts view, this is the place to go.

Be it music, acting, dance, or any other form, America’s art has a fantastic variety to offer for every taste. Today, we spoke about Washington and Maryland in particular. Have you been to these areas? Have we missed any place on the list? Let us know in the comments below!

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© Red Curtain Addict 2021