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John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Open today: 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
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Reviewed yesterday

Shows come and go, so this review is more of the venue. It's old but decently arranged. The theater we were in for Anastasia looked like it hadn't been updated since opening sometime around the introduction of tube televisions. But the show itself had lots of technological marvels for set design, so maybe the producers bring in the 21st century. The ushers were quite helpful getting around, though, and the seats were okay. Do bring some binoculars if you're up in the nosebleed section. But they do tolerate people relatively dressed-down (still respectfully), so it's a bit more accessible to the masses.

Thank Hatzlacha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 1 week ago

If you get an opportunity to attend a Declassified event hosted by Ben Folds, GO! Ticket prices range from $26 - $86. We saw Regina Spektor (pianist/vocalist), Caleb Teicher (tap), and Simon Trpceski (pianist) and it was fantastic! The artists interact with the audience, dress is casual, the NSO is simply amazing, and it was very "in the moment." Parking in the underground garage was $23. We parked first, then went across the street for pizza and salads (very quick service as they know performances await). My only regret is that Caleb Teicher and Simon Trpceski didn't perform a second number. Keep in mind that there are multiple performance venues within the Kennedy Center, so there are many people going to other areas. Anastasia was adjacent to us.

The gift shop had LOTS of nicely made items for gifts and the prices weren't too terrible. We bought a t-shirt and pj pants for $55.

Thank McFamGo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 1 week ago

Just a few minutes walk from our hotel (Hive), the Kennedy Center was a beautiful to behold and we were lucky enough to get free seats for the Marine Band concert - featuring the creme de la creme of virtuoso musicians playing an hour of jazz.

Thank Terry G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 2 weeks ago via mobile

The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts offers free 75 minute tours. You don’t have to sign up in advance and the docent was very knowledgeable about the numerous gifts that were donated by countries as memorial gifts for President Kennedy. This building is a national monument you should not miss in your visit to Washington DC.

Thank KSUDeb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 3 weeks ago via mobile

I was initially anxious, taking teens to the orchestra. They loved it. The movie was good, the music was incredible, complex and uplifting. We never understood what it takes to create this music, it was an education and a fantastic experience. Highly recommended.

Thank Escape763338
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 3 weeks ago

I had heard that Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius. Now, having seen the musical Hamilton, I suspect he is the reincarnation of Alexander Hamilton. In any case, he is brilliant. The Kennedy Center Honors for groundbreaking work is more than justified awarding Hamilton as a theatre piece, as it is much greater than the sum of its many parts. Miranda’s capacity to seize a moment in time and set it to poetry and music has made history come alive to many.

Throughout the show, themes of urgency, lack of time, and not being satisfied, kindle the destiny of this time period. How young our founding fathers were (late teens and early twenties for Hamilton, Burr, Lafayette, Laurens, and Mulligan) as they passionately planned the revolution! Hamilton, an orphan and self-made man, was highly intelligent, elegant, and stood out as a prolific writer and leader. As a line in the song My Shot states, “I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry, and I’m not throwing away my shot.”

Six vital artistic choices make Miranda’s theatrical work magical. Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton draws extensively from Alexander Hamilton’s own writing, the written perspectives of Hamilton’s contemporaries, and other biographies. The writing and footnotes are meticulous, but Chernow’s book is instantly accessible: it reads like a story being told beside a warm fireplace. As I read it, I noticed phrases and descriptions that Miranda turned into a song, a scene, or dialogue. Miranda is a wordsmith, crafting lyrics that are at times informative, whimsical, prophetic, and heartbreaking. Both Chernow and Miranda opted to favor fact over fiction in this show, which is a great strength. I thought that the character Hamilton as an immigrant was a brilliant context for then and now, and my favorite lines remain, “Immigrants: we get the job done.”

Hamilton is a well-oiled endeavor of precision, thanks to the team that Miranda selected. Thomas Kail, the director, keeps an overall fast pace that drives the characters and story. Choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler creates an ensemble that acts much like a Greek chorus in motion. Through their movement, they fill in the story during and in between the music, as well as setting up scenes with props and set pieces. In fact, all of the cast dances.

Alex Lacamoire (Music Supervisor/Orchestrations/Co-Arranger) is Miranda’s right hand man when it comes to the music. They have given us such a lush score that it became a cherished part of my life. To categorize Hamilton as a hip-hop musical minimizes the many styles of music that make up this show. I was entranced by the lovely haunting melodies in Miranda’s ballads. It took me several repetitions to be able to not cry when listening to the second act. And when I saw Hamilton onstage, I again succumbed to the death scenes with tears. However, Miranda composed other songs with humor (King George), bravado and courage (those revolutionaries!), and strong women to give voice to the women’s perspective.

Another great choice in Hamilton is the extraordinary set by David Korins (look up the fascinating interview with him at Huffington Post). The set has staircases on both sides of the stage leading up to balconies on the sides and across the entire back, which are used masterfully. But my favorite feature is the two concentric turntables comprising most of the stage floor, which works beautifully for scene changes, battles, freezes, and more. It is spectacular.

Yet another key choice contributing to the show’s success was casting Aaron Burr as a narrator of sorts from the beginning, introducing the characters and setting the tone. Burr furthers the plot from time to time, including a poignant song about the woman he loves. In the duet, Dear Theodosia, Burr and Hamilton sing about their first-born children in wonder, giving us another side of their personalities.

Paul Tazewell’s costumes are beautiful and authentic, and I know those magnificent actors are really hot on that stage with what they wear and what they do over the two hours and 40 minutes. I meant “hot” as in room temperature, but the other definition applies as well. Not only is the entire cast gorgeous, but they sing, act, and dance with high energy that is non-stop; their endurance and talent are unbelievable.

Hamilton is a wonder, a treasure to behold, and I urge you to see it. Even if you don’t see the stage version, get the CD and read the lyrics while you listen. It goes pretty fast, but you may just find yourself humming along.

Thank Kathleen L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

We were in the rafters and it did not matter...such a beautiful performance. Could see all and there was translation. People dressed from casual to black tie. Gift shop was fun.

Thank lisab4142014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Its worth a visit to the Performing Arts center to see the very ugly looking JFK bust and some interesting pieces in the lobby but the flags from the ceiling are impressive (Sheldon would love it), didn't take in a show just a wander through the building.

Thank TeamWard
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

We attended the opera at the Kennedy Center. The staff is really friendly and handle the crowds well. I've been to several performance at the opera house over the past few years and I don't think there are any bad seats. You get a good view of the stage and can hear the performers.

Thank TooOldtoRun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

Been coming to the Kennedy Center since it opened. Been to countless shows over the years, but never have reviewed it on TA. Went last night to see Lilly Tomlin in the Concert Hall. We sat in the 2nd tier, 1st row at a corner. Great view from these seats. My wife is vertically challenged and these seats were perfect to see the stage, although opera glasses would have made seeing Lilly up close and personal a little easier. Sound wise, the acoustics in the Concert Hall are superb. We could easily hear and understand what Lilly was saying. Parking at the Center was made easy and cheaper by prepaying on-line. Go to the Kennedy Center website and search for parking. They will link you to their on-line parking vendor which will save you $3.00. Not a great savings, but it's convenient. Only complaint would be for the personnel staffing the snack bar. Understaffed and rude in my opinion. We purchased a couple of sandwiches from it and the cashier couldn't be bothered to find us condiments to go with the sandwiches.

Thank Mark L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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