Summer Spotlight: Lineup of Must-See Shows on DC Theatre Stages

Jun 22, 2023
DC Theatre Summer Shows

As the sun shines brighter and the days grow longer, the curtain rises on a new season of vibrant performances in the heart of the nation's capital. This summer, theatre in DC is set to captivate audiences with a diverse array of shows that promise to be as hot as the season itself. From the grand, historic stages of the Kennedy Center to the intimate, innovative spaces of Synetic Theater and the Olney Theatre Center, the theatre DC scene is ready to offer a summer lineup that is as diverse and dynamic as the city itself. Whether you're a seasoned theatre-goer or a curious newcomer, prepare to be enthralled by the compelling narratives, breathtaking performances, and creative productions that define the Washington DC theatre scene. Lets delve into 10 must-see shows that will be lighting up DC theatre stages this summer.

The Lion King at the Kennedy Center

Kicking off our summer theatre DC lineup is the globally acclaimed sensation, Disney's The Lion King. This beloved musical, which has captivated over 100 million people worldwide, is making a triumphant return to the prestigious Kennedy Center, where it will be playing until July 29. The Lion King is not just a show, it's a phenomenon. As a six-time Tony Award winner, including Best Musical, it has set a new standard for theatrical innovation and storytelling. The unforgettable score, crafted by the Tony-winning duo Elton John and Tim Rice, echoes through the auditorium, creating a mesmerizing atmosphere that leaves audiences spellbound. The Lion King is truly in a league of its own, offering a theatrical experience that is unparalleled in its majesty and emotional power. Don't miss the chance to witness this landmark musical in the heart of Washington, D.C. this summer.

1776 at the Kennedy Center

Next on our summer theatre DC roster is the stirring and thought-provoking musical, 1776, running from June 27 to July 16 at The Kennedy Center. This compelling production takes us back to a pivotal moment in American history, when the seeds of independence were being sown. The story centers around John Adams, a man weary of British tyranny and determined to convince his colleagues in the Continental Congress to vote for American independence and sign the Declaration. Yet, the journey to freedom is fraught with questions and compromises. How far is Adams willing to go in his quest for liberty? And who truly stands to benefit from this newfound freedom? 1776 is a powerful exploration of the ideals and challenges that shaped a nation, offering a poignant reminder of the enduring struggle for liberty and justice. Don't miss this opportunity to experience a piece of American history brought to life on the DC stage this summer.

Fun Home at Studio Theatre

Adding a touch of introspective brilliance to our summer theatre DC lineup is the Tony Award-winning musical, Fun Home, which will be running from June 28 to July 30 at the Studio Theatre. This deeply moving and refreshingly honest production invites us into the complex world of Alison at three pivotal stages in her life. As a child longing for her father's attention, a young woman experiencing the exhilarating rush of first love, and an adult seeking to understand her father's secretive life and untimely death, Alison's journey is a poignant exploration of identity, family, and the power of truth. Fun Home's score beautifully mirrors this emotional complexity, oscillating between the vibrant pop of the '70s and the haunting melodies of longing and self-discovery. This is more than just a story of coming out and coming to terms with one's past; it's a universal tale of understanding and acceptance. Experience the raw emotion and profound insight of Fun Home this summer in Washington DC.

Cambodian Rock Band at Arena Stage

Adding a unique blend of history, music, and family drama to our theatre DC summer lineup is the riveting play, "Cambodian Rock Band". This captivating production will be playing at the Arena Stage from July 19 to August 27. Set in 2008, the story follows a father-daughter pair journeying to Phnom Penh; she is there to prosecute a notorious war criminal, while he is returning for the first time since escaping the Communist rule three decades earlier. The play is a vibrant, psychedelic spectacle that pays homage to Cambodia's thriving '70s rock scene, tragically silenced by the Khmer Rouge. Featuring popular Cambodian rock music, including tracks from Dengue Fever, "Cambodian Rock Band" is more than just a play; it's a powerful exploration of a country's cultural heritage and a family's buried secrets. Prepare to be moved and enlightened by this extraordinary theatrical experience this summer in Washington DC.

Xanadu at The Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater

Bringing a dose of laughter, inspiration, and roller-skating fun to our theatre DC summer lineup is the delightful musical, Xanadu. This whimsical adventure will be performed at the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater from June 30 to August 19. Based on the cult classic movie starring Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly, Xanadu is a joyous journey that encourages us to chase our dreams, no matter the obstacles. The story follows Kira, a radiant Greek muse from Mount Olympus, who descends to 1980's Venice Beach, California, to inspire Sonny, a struggling artist, to create the ultimate artistic expression - the first ROLLER DISCO! But as Kira falls for the mortal Sonny, her envious sisters stir up trouble, leading to a whirlwind of hilarious chaos. And the fun doesn't stop there - your Xanadu experience begins with a delicious dinner and dessert, complemented by a full cash bar. Get ready to be inspired, entertained, and well-fed this summer at Xanadu!

Fela! at Olney Theatre Center

Adding a vibrant rhythm and revolutionary spirit is the award-winning musical, "Fela!". This epic co-production by the Round House Theatre and Olney Theatre Center marks the first professional staging of the show anywhere in the world since its national tour over a decade ago. The musical will run from July 7 to August 13 at the Olney Theatre Center. Set in 1978, "Fela!" introduces us to the legendary musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti during his farewell show at the Afrika Shrine nightclub in Lagos, Nigeria. After witnessing the tragic loss of his mother in a dictator's violent attack, Fela uses his final performance in Nigeria to share his story of survival and revolution. His iconic music, a powerful fusion of traditional African drumming, jazz, and funk, serves as the heartbeat of this narrative, driving a tale of global change through Afrobeat and electrifying dance. Don't miss the chance to experience the pulsating energy and profound message of "Fela!" this summer.

Cyrano de Bergerac at Synetic Theater

Adding a touch of timeless romance and poetic wit to our theatre DC summer lineup is the classic masterpiece, "Cyrano de Bergerac". This captivating production will be performed at the Synetic Theater from July 14 to August 13. The story revolves around the brilliant but self-conscious Cyrano de Bergerac, a poet and soldier with a wit as sharp as his sword and a nose as grand as his courage. Despite his deep love for his dear friend Roxane, Cyrano lacks the confidence to express his feelings, choosing instead to pour his heart out in letters penned for his handsome rival, Christian. Synetic Theater's adaptation of this enduring tale is inspired by clowning and commedia, adding a unique twist to the narrative. "Cyrano de Bergerac" takes audiences on a poignant journey through the complexities of love, loyalty, and sacrifice, ultimately reminding us that love is the most profound truth of all. Don't miss the chance to experience this romantic classic on the DC stage this summer.

Moulin Rouge! The Musical at The Kennedy Center

Bringing a burst of glitz, grandeur, and passionate romance is the dazzling spectacle, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical". This electrifying production will be gracing the stage at The Kennedy Center from August 2 to September 24. Step into a world where the lines between bohemians and aristocrats blur amidst a whirlwind of splendor and enchantment. This stage adaptation brings Baz Luhrmann's revolutionary film to life, reimagined as a musical mash-up extravaganza. Under the direction of Tony Award winner Alex Timbers, "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" is a jubilant celebration of Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and above all, Love. Prepare to be swept off your feet by the intoxicating allure and thrilling energy of "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" this summer in Washington DC.

The Play That Goes Wrong at The Kennedy Center

Adding a hearty dose of laughter to our theatre DC summer lineup is the award-winning comedy, "The Play That Goes Wrong". This hilarious production will be running at the Kennedy Center from July 18 to August 13. Imagine the deductive prowess of Sherlock Holmes colliding with the absurd humor of Monty Python, and you get a taste of this uproarious Broadway sensation. Set on the opening night of a classic murder mystery, "The Murder at Haversham Manor", the play quickly descends into a whirlwind of comedic chaos. With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that refuses to play dead, and actors who stumble over everything (including their lines), "The Play That Goes Wrong" is a riotous romp hailed as "comic gold" by Variety. Prepare for an evening of non-stop laughter and theatrical mayhem with this side-splitting comedy this summer in Washington DC.

To Kill A Mockingbird at The Kennedy Center

Adding a touch of classic American literature is the critically acclaimed adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "To Kill A Mockingbird". This masterful production will be returning to the Kennedy Center for a limited engagement from August 15 to August 27. Adapted by Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin, "To Kill A Mockingbird" has been hailed as "the most successful American play in Broadway history" by 60 Minutes and "an emotionally shattering landmark production of an American classic" by Rolling Stone. Directed by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher, the play brings to life the timeless tale of justice and morality, with Emmy Award-winning actor Richard Thomas taking on the iconic role of Atticus Finch. Experience the majesty, nuance, and soul of this "real phenomenon" (New York Magazine) this summer in Washington DC.

Embrace The Magic of DC Theatre This Summer

It's clear that the stages of Washington DC are set to host an extraordinary array of performances. From the humor of "The Play That Goes Wrong" to the timeless classic "To Kill A Mockingbird", and from the vibrant energy of "Moulin Rouge! The Musical" to the revolutionary spirit of "Fela!", there's a show for every theatre lover this summer on a DC theatre stage. Whether you're a seasoned theatre-goer or a curious newcomer, prepare to be captivated by the compelling narratives, breathtaking performances, and creative productions that define the Washington DC theatre scene. So, mark your calendars, book your tickets, and get ready for a summer of unforgettable theatrical experiences in the heart of the nation's capital.

DC Theatre Current Productions

For a full list of plays now playing, check out our list of current DC Theatre productions.