Terrace Theater to Re-Open with Series of Events at the Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will officially re-open the Terrace Theater on Friday, October 6, kicking off a month-long suite of performances that highlight the theater’s unique position as the Center’s most intimate and versatile space. The re-opening follows a 16-month renovation intended to update the theater and facilities, and enhance the overall guest experience.

Jason Moran and Q-Tip will kick off the re-opening celebration. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

“The Terrace Theater is the heart of the Kennedy Center, welcoming artists and audiences across the spectrum, and serving as a hub for artistic community-building,” said Deborah F. Rutter, president of the Kennedy Center. “The first month of performances underscores the importance of having a highly versatile, fully accessible space that allows artists to explore and invites audiences to be up-close-and-personal with the art. We are grateful to the incredible team-including artists and artisans, supporters, vendors, and staff-who came together to ensure that this project was great success. We could not be more pleased to welcome patrons to experience the Terrace Theater once again…or for the first time!”

Opening Month Programming

Reflecting the Terrace Theater’s identity as a flexible venue for artists and audiences to come together, programming for the re-opening will activate the space with performances across a range of styles, with an emphasis on highly collaborative artistic explorations led by several of the Kennedy Center’s artistic partners. The theater opens October 6 with a sold-out collaboration that brings together Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran and Artistic Director for Hip Hop Culture Q-Tip in his Kennedy Center debut. The performance also marks the opening of the Center’s first Hip Hop season and the opening of the jazz season.

On October 12, Fortas Chamber Music series’ Artistic Director Joseph Kalichstein will lead a performance featuring the renowned Emerson String Quartet and the Dover Quartet, and on October 13, Artistic Advisor At Large and superstar soprano Renée Fleming will team up with jazz bassist Christian McBride as part of the Renée Fleming VOICES series. Artistic Advisor Damian Woetzel will lead an all-star cast of New York City Ballet dancers in a special DEMO series lecture-demonstration that explores the visionary ballet and Broadway repertoire of Jerome Robbins on October 20 and 21.

Fantasy in Japan Blue Exhibit in the Hall of States. Photo Courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

During the re-opening, the Kennedy Center will also pay homage to the special connection the Terrace Theater shares with the people of Japan. In honor of America’s bicentennial in 1976, Japan made a philanthropic gift to the Center in order to build the Terrace Theater. “Fantasy in Japan Blue,” an installation by leading Japanese textile designer Reiko Sudo’s Nuno Corporation, will hang in the Hall of States October 3 – November 12. In the Terrace Theater on October 18, Japanese artists, including tap-dancer Kazunori Kumagai and renowned koto artist Yumi Kurosawa, come together for a multi-genre performance titled Japanese Connections.

Among the 20 Terrace Theater re-opening events, also featured are Josh Blue, the comedian with Cerebral Palsy whose, self-deprecating work highlights the importance of the Terrace Theater’s accessibility renovations for both audiences and artists; performances by community partners WPA and Opera Lafayette; and David Rubenstein’s Profiles in Creativity with Harvey Weinstein. A complete calendar of Terrace Theater re-opening events is below and online.

Terrace Theater Renovation Highlights

The Terrace Theater is the busiest theater within the Center, hosting up to 180 performances each year ranging from music, jazz, dance, film, lectures, and more. Importantly, it also serves as a primary space through which the Center welcomes local arts groups and its artistic constituents, including WPA, Opera Lafayette, and many more.

The Terrace Theater closed in June 2016 to begin the $21.8 million renovation, the first in the theater’s 38-year history. Project goals included: enhancing the overall guest experience by updating and upgrading the lobby and theater spaces; improving facilities and access points, including adding an elevator, to bring the space into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); maintaining and enhancing the acoustic integrity of the space; and updating the stage configurations and audio-visual systems to ensure that the theater is well equipped and flexible enough to support a broad range of programming. With the completion of the Terrace Theater, all theaters within the Center have now received full-scale renovations and are ADA-compliant.

The renovation was completed with federal appropriations to the Center’s Capital Repair and Restoration funds, with additional support, including in-kind donations, from Herb and Natalie Kohler, HARMAN International Industries, Inc., JoAnn McGrath and the Highland Street Foundation, and Dale and Leslie Chihuly.

The theater has been completely transformed with hand-crafted, curved wood paneling that invokes the materials and build of stringed instruments. All materials were selected to enhance the acoustic integrity of the space, including seating, carpet, and the wood paneling, which is finished with wood sourced from a single sycamore tree. The new space holds 490 seats, including 14 accessible spaces located across each level of the theater, including balconies added to either side of the theater, and direct access to the stage from the audience chamber.

An innovative feature of the renovation is the adjustable panels in the proscenium (the “picture frame” that separates the stage from the seating area) which can change the size of the stage opening to accommodate various types of performances. The state-of-the-art sound system by HARMAN provides new and more varied options for performances that require amplification. Energy efficient, automated LED performance lighting, provided by Martin Lighting, a HARMAN company, offers additional flexibility, as does the updated energy efficient lobby lighting.

As patrons enter, they will be greeted by a reconfigured lobby and open staircase that spotlights a Chandelier created by renowned artist Dale Chihuly specifically for the space. Titled Amber Icicle and Split Leaf Chandelier, the work was commissioned by the Center with support from JoAnn McGrath and the Highland Street Foundation. The original design brings together in a Chandelier for the first time two of Chihuly’s nature-inspired forms, icicles and split leaves, in an amber and garnet work of art.

Additional features of the renovation include a new elevator that offers patrons access to a new lower lobby with added restrooms, and renovations to the dressing rooms to provide accessible facilities for performers. Renovated public restrooms and a coat-check room will now serve the Theater Lab and Terrace Gallery, as well as the Terrace Theater.

Quinn Evans Architects of Washington., D.C. designed the project in collaboration with Schuler Shook (theater design), Jaffe Holden (acoustics), Mueller Associates (MEP engineers), McMullan Associates (structural engineers), and GHD (fire protection). Rand Construction Corporation of Alexandria, Virginia served as the Construction Manager. The Kennedy Center’s Production Department designed and installed the theater’s state-of-the art audio-visual system, as well as the lobby lighting fixtures.

Terrace Theater Re-Opening includes a series of one-night events from October 6, 2017 to November 5, 2017 at the Terrace Theater at The Kennedy Center – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (202) 416-8540 or go online.

For more information about the Kennedy Center visit www.kennedy-center.org.


October 6, 2017: Jason Moran + Q-Tip

October 7, 2017: Lotus

October 8, 2017: Kennedy Center Chamber Players: Fall Concert

October 11, 2017: Josh Blue

October 12, 2017: 2-4-6-8! A Chamber Music Celebration by the Numbers

October 13, 2017: Renée Fleming VOICES and Christian McBride

October 14, 2017: Lee Konitz at 90

October 15, 2017: Sphinx Virtuosi

October 18, 2017: Japanese Connections

October 20 and 21, 2017: Damian Woetzel: DEMO

October 24, 2017 Terrace Theater Opera Lafayette

October 27, 2017 Terrace Theater Ron Carter

October 28, 2017: The Bentzen Ball Comedy Festival: Andrea Gibson and Amber Tamblyn

November 1, 2017: Washington Performing Arts presents Nikolai Lugansky, piano

November 2, 2017 Terrace Theater Profiles in Creativity with David Rubenstein: Harvey Weinstein

November 4, 2017: Cynthia Erivo (matinee and evening)

November 5, 2017: New York Festival of Song featuring Bernstein’s Songfest


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