Great Evenings Now, and Coming Soon

Fall has come to the DC area. Kids are back in school. Air conditioners are looking forward to a few months of rest. And we are pleased to trumpet the release of the latest edition of our free guide: Just the Ticket: An Insider’s Guide to Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC. In this time of transition let’s take a look at great shows still on stage from the last edition and a couple that are just popping onto the scene from the new book.

With seven shows in five neighborhoods, we’ve got fun things all over DC.

From the June – September edition, a few shows are still going strong and making these great evenings for you to check out:

Hand to God at Studio Theatre has been a big hit for the theater and the run has been extended several times, so it’s still onstage for at least another week or two. This story of a foul mouthed puppet in a church basement has been packing them in for months now. Insiders show up early for the best seat and a drink from the bar, and then get a genuinely fun arts-and-crafts project for the audience: make a sock puppet of your own to take and keep. Pro tip: Tuck the toe of the sock inward to make the articulated mouth. (1501 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005 202.332.3300 https://www.studiotheatre.org/plays/play-detail/hand-to-god)

Urinetown at Constellation Theatre will keep rocking audiences with laughter through October 9th. It has been playing to sold out houses most nights, so jump on it quickly or you’ll miss it. (1835 14th Street NW Washington D.C. 20009 202.204.7741 http://www.constellationtheatre.org/urinetown.html)

Angels in America at Round House Theatre continues through October 30th. We haven’t seen this yet ourselves, but have heard great reports from friends who have. (4545 East-West Highway Bethesda, MD (240) 644-1100 http://www.roundhousetheatre.org/performances/angels-in-america/)

We thoroughly enjoyed Be Awesome: A Theatrical Mix Tape at Flying V Theatre, which will be on stage through October 9th. It includes 16 songs from the 1990’s, 3 performed live, all with interpretive performances which tie together into the story of a mix tape made by a parent for a newborn child. (4508 Walsh St, Bethesda, MD 20815 No box office phone http://www.flyingvtheatre.com/2016-season/be-awesome-a-theatrical-mixtape-of-the-90s/)

Sense and Sensibility at the Folger Theatre on Capitol Hill. It will continue through November 9th. We’ll be seeing it in about two weeks ourselves. This promises to be spectacular, oh, and the museum exhibit at the Folger Library comparing the literary fame of Shakespeare and Austen is a lot of fun. (201 E Capitol St SE, Washington, DC 20003 202-544-7077 http://www.folger.edu/events/sense-and-sensibility)

And already open or spinning up soon from the October-December edition:

Romeo and Juliet has broken from yon window at The Shakespeare Theatre.

Love’s LaBeers Lost by LiveArtDC clinks glasses for the first time this Thursday night.

Tap the download icon on this page to pull down the latest number and get all the details on these and the rest of the upcoming quarter’s greatest evenings out!

What you see when you see a play.

Continuing our occasional series on harvesting conversational topics from plays, today we want to highlight the visual elements that might catch your eye during a performance and grow into something to talk about afterwards.

A play on stage offers many things to look at, nearly all of which are chosen by the director and design team for each production. The set, costumes, lighting, and props you will see in a performance, for example, of Urinetown (part of Great Evening #7 in the current edition of Just the Ticket: An Insider’s Guide to Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC) would be different from what someone seeing the same play in another town would see. While the words spoken and sung would be the same, everything meant for the eye is invented anew in each production.

So, you can get a good conversation going with a question like “How did what you were seeing in the play fit with what you were hearing?” This kind of question gets people talking both about what caught their eyes and what they felt was most important or most striking about the overall play.

You could also get the ball rolling by pointing out something visual that particularly impressed you and asking your companions whether they noticed the same thing and how they felt about it. In the bar immediately afterward is a great time for this kind of discussion, because for most people, visual memory fades fairly quickly. We tend to remember what happened long after forgetting the details of what it looked like.

A lot of work, including sketches, plans, and models, goes into putting the visuals of the play in front of you, the audience. In the end, your experience is what determines whether that was work well spent, so take a little time to share with your friends how what you saw struck you, and if you feel inclined, let us know where the conversation went with a message to peteandsara@greateveningsout.com.

14th Street Neighborhood Overview

During the day time, the 14th St NW neighborhood is sleepy, with local secondhand stores, doggie daycare establishments, boutique grocers and the like open for business, but few reasons for visitors to stop in. Around 4 PM, though, this starts to change as some of Washington’s hardest-to-book restaurants and most-hopping-at-happy-hour bars warm their ovens and chill their cocktail shakers. By pre-theatre dinner time, the sidewalks fill up with a youthful and energetic crowd ready to shed workday attitudes and cruise into an evening of fun.

You will also spot the sadly numerous DC workaholics dodging along the sidewalks, a loosened tie or perhaps athletic shoes in place of heels the only concession to departure from the office. They stop in Trader Joe’s or takeout restaurants to collect sustenance for their second shifts on their kitchen tables or couches. Pity them, pity them. A better evening awaits you here.

14th St NW runs through several entertainment zones, but the one that bears its name runs from Thomas Circle NW at its southern border up to U St NW where it overlaps for a bit with the U St NW Corridor. Logan Circle bounds it on the east, while 16th St NW to the west marks the transition into the Dupont Circle neighborhood. The whole area is liberally supplied with nightlife, shops, restaurants, and bars. The best Metro stop for the northern end of the neighborhood is the 13th St exit from U St/Cardozo (Green and Yellow lines). For the southern reaches of the neighborhood, either this station or Dupont Circle (Red line) are equally good.

Just the Ticket: An Insider’s Guide to Great Evenings Out in Washington, DC will frequently send you here for three theaters. At the corner with P St NW Studio Theatre Company rises with large photo murals of DC acting greats and dynamic posters for their current or upcoming work in all the ground floor windows. Studio has three similar auditoriums with 200 seats each plus one smaller flexible space that usually accommodates about 100 audience members. At 16th St and Q St NW, Theater J has a beautiful 200 seat auditorium inside the DC Jewish Community Center Building. Since it sits on the border, we’ll either call it a 14th St evening or a Dupont Circle evening depending on where we recommend dinner. Just south of the corner with T St NW, the Source Theater, which is home to Constellation Theatre Company and a few other arts groups, has a 100 seat auditorium and the most crowded lobby in town.

Music and burlesque acts perform at The Black Cat just a few doors south from Source. Many people eating and drinking on 14th St NW will also be heading to other nightlife spots in the U St NW and Shaw neighborhoods.

Interesting shops are scattered around the neighborhood. Here are a few good samples. Salt and Sundry offers household related gifts in case someone at home would like a tea towel or some fancy bitters. Filson offers hipster fashion from Seattle.   Batch 13 is the spot for exotic liquor. Miss Pixies, a neighborhood institution where we’ve furnished about a fifth of our home over the years, offers quirky domestic goods from all the best estate sales. Monarch Novelties, towards the southern end of the strip, looks more like a haunted property or a crime scene than an operating business. It’s a fun window to look in.

Restaurants are the big drivers of traffic to the area. Scanning roughly from south to north, we’ll highlight a few of the gems. The Pig serves satisfying meals enriched with porcine products. Birch and Barley is an elegant destination with the option of a tasting menu with beer pairings. Etto with its crisp pizza and succulent antipasti feels Roman enough we half expect our bill to come in euros. Le Diplomat has a stellar raw bar and great French entrees, and prime time tables book up weeks in advance. Barcelona is as Spanish as its name with marvelous charcuterie and tapas. El Centro D F is an excellent Mexican restaurant, specializing in a different Mexican city or state every 6 months. Busboys and Poets in all honesty is about a block north of the neighborhood, but we can’t walk this close to it without mentioning this next-wave bohemian diner powerhouse with a lefty bookstore and a dynamic little stage.

There are also a few exceptional spots for more casual, less expensive dining. The Whole Foods Grocery on P St NW has an extensive prepared foods section, draft beer, and a mezzanine full of seating. Amsterdam Flafalshop serves up those yummy lumps of chickpea with a culinary rainbow of accompaniments. Taylor Gourmet offers high tone sandwiches and salads alongside a funky soda machine that lets you mix your own flavors.

If you’re looking for a more dedicated bar experience: Church Key, upstairs from Birch and Barley, is a beer lover’s wonderland. Stoneys, across the street from Wholefoods, is the place to go if you’re just looking for an American neighborhood bar. 2 Birds 1 Stone is the hippest dive in DC. Bar Pilar greets the drinker with cozy charm.

Satisfy your sweet tooth with gelato from Dolcezza or fancy coffee and biscotti at Peregrine Espresso.

Between these businesses, and many more, sit some of the city’s best located loft apartments – most of them purpose built since DC never really had heavy industrial buildings. If you look closely, though, you’ll see the neighborhood’s heritage as Auto Row in the unusually tall and wide shop windows and the giant elevator at Studio. Enjoy your wander around 14th St NW. Whether you’re on one of our Great Evenings Out or exploring on your own, there’s plenty here to keep you happy.