Located in D.C.’s southwest waterfront neighborhood, Arena Stage is a not-for-profit, regional theater in operation since 1950, and it's a Tony Award–winning venue. I’ve been coming to this gem of a performance center since I was a child, when my parents would bring me to see children’s plays. Back then, there were two separate theaters, making up the complex, one of which was theatre in the round, a very unusual stage for its time.
Over the years, other D.C. theaters rose in design and function to surpass Arena Stage, which was sad because this place is truly a gem of a performance arts center, located in an area that sees little theater.
In 2008, Arena Stage underwent a massive renovation. The architect decided to preserve the existing theaters by building a bold, new structure around them. The result is a cloudlike roof that caps an expanse of canted glass, supported by inclined wooden columns. It’s a stunning building.
Inside, the original venues exist intact, and the best part about this is that they remain small and intimate. Even if you have a seat in the very last row of the balcony, you have a good view of the stage and the acoustics have improved greatly with the renovation.
Arena Stage is a great venue to catch a show. Check the website for performance schedules and look on LivingSocial and Groupon for deals. There are plenty of restaurants nearby for a pre/post show meal.