More often than not, politics takes center stage in Washington, D.C. But in its heart of hearts, this capital city is a theater town. More than 80 companies scattered throughout the metro area offer a rich lineup of material (visit www.helenhayes.org for a complete listing). To help you better navigate the city's maze of live performances, we've chosen three must-see venues. All-America Theater Arena Stage, Washington's most prestigious regional company, features both classic and new American plays. The complex houses three theaters: the Fichandler, an 800-seat theater-in-the-round; the 500-seat Kreeger; and the cabaret-style Old Vat Room. The theater plans to break ground on a new complex in the next few years.
1101 Sixth Street at Maine Avenue SW.; (202) 488-3300 or www.arenastage.org.
All the World's a Stage But D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre Company is more than just a player. Few perform the Bard's work with this level of mastery. The company now occupies a comfortable 450-seat stage in the Penn Quarter district, but they've also started construction on an 11- story building that will house the 776-seat Sidney Harman Hall. That's good news for Shakespeare fans. Shows here often sell out, but the theater sells standing room-only tickets for $10 starting one hour before the show. 450 Seventh Street NW.; (202) 547-1122 or www.shakespearetheatre.org. Living on the Edge The Studio Theatre, which features some of the city's most contemporary productions, unveiled a $13-million expansion last year. Now occupying three 14th Street buildings in one of the city's trendiest neighborhoods, the sleek facility illustrates the theater's dedication to historic preservation. 14th Street and P Street NW.; (202) 332-3300 or www.studiotheatre.org. Onstage In D.C." is from the February 2006 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.