Best Washington DC Theater Productions Of 2013

December 23, 2013 7:00 AM

The Washington DC theater scene can be overwhelming with dramas, musicals, operas, comedies, world premieres and revivals all going on at once. There never seems to be a shortage of amazing productions in the area. 2013 was another great year for theater in the District. Here are some of the best productions the year had to offer.

“The Laramie Project”
Ford’s Theatre
511 10th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 347-4833

The horrific murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 opened many eyes to the hate crimes being committed against homosexuals in the United States. The story of his death was chronicled in documentaries, movies, books and plays. Directed by Matthew Gardiner, “The Laramie Project” is an adaptation of the interviews done for the documentary about Shepard’s story. Ford’s Theatre not only put on a fantastic stage production, but also refused to put the show on hiatus during the government shutdown. Its minimalist production at the First Congregational United Church of Christ was inspiring and in true “the show must go on” fashion.

“The Winter’s Tale”
Lansburgh Theatre
450 7th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 547-0000

There are reasons Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” is seldom produced; the challenge of bringing the work to life is too much for most. The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Rebecca Taichman, director of the Lansburgh Theatre, took on that challenge and succeeded. Finding actors who can portray multiple heightened emotions within multiple characters, without making a mockery of the script, is no easy task. But they managed to do it, and the success of the production was in large part due to the wonderful casting, including Mark Harelik as King Leontes. This production might have given hope to others who want to take a risk.

“Shakespeare’s R&J”
Signature Theatre
4200 Campbell Ave.
Arlington, VA 22206
(703) 820-9771

“Romeo and Juliet” has been performed, produced and re-imagined countless times since William Shakespeare first introduced the world to his story of forbidden love. So a new production of the classic tale doesn’t immediately evoke anticipation and excitement. Director Joe Calarco managed to breathe fresh air into the centuries-old story with his adaption. “Shakespeare’s R&J” is about four Catholic boarding school boys who come across a copy of “Romeo and Juliet,” which is banned, and become enveloped in the story. Calarco replaces the romance with discoveries of intense emotions that these four boys have been taught, and in some ways, forbidden to express. From the lighting to the acting, this was a must-see production.

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Arena Stage
1101 6th St. S.W.
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 554-9066

Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” is an example of what an adaptation should be; a transformation of a topic that elevates it to a new level. Anyone who got a chance to see the Tony Award-winning play live got a complete sensory experience, including splashes from the pool of water that acts as the stage. The water was in no way a gimmick, it was a brilliant way to connect the audience with what the characters were feeling, and at times what they themselves were feeling. Blending mythology and modern concepts can end in lackluster results, but “Metamorphoses” thrives where many have failed.

“The Nightwatcher”
Studio Theatre
1501 14th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 332-3300

The looks you get when you tell someone you don’t want to get married are only second to the looks when you tell someone you don’t want to have children. To many, both are necessities, and if you don’t want one or the other, there must be some life-changing reason why you don’t. Charlayne Woodard, known for her television and stage roles, returned to DC with her one-woman show “The Nightwatcher.” It’s a two-hour insight into her experiences and relationships with children over the years, while she and her husband have none of their own. Woodard’s relationships to these various children make for funny, sad and earnest stories, and perhaps unintentionally advocates for the childless and those who truly believe it takes a village to raise a child.

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Folashade Oyegbola is a freelance writer covering all things D.C. Her work can be found on