How DMV theaters are strategizing for reopening

Despite uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, some venues are moving forward with reopening plans

With the fall season and following seasons still only tentatively planned, arts organizations are taking the time to focus on a reopening strategy that makes the most sense for their staff, performers, and community. Of course, The Actor’s Equity Association has its own rules for a safe reopening that need to be followed. But the exact details are left up to the management of each venue—at least, until a consensus is reached about the viability of plans to open anytime in the near future. The following list reflects current statements released by DMV arts organizations, including a limited number of live performance listings. This list was first published June 26, 2020, and has been continuously updated as information comes in. The most recent update was made at 1 PM on October 23.

The Alden Theatre in McLean has created Drive-Thru Drama performances. Drive-Thru Drama is a new model of theater in a COVID-19 world. It employs a social-distancing format that brings people together for live theater from the comfort of their own cars. Actors will perform one cohesive story through short scenes across the MCC parking lot. Audience members simply roll down their windows and drive the route from actor to actor. The Alden is placing several safety precautions into place to adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions’ COVID-19 guidelines, such as requiring the actors to wear personal protective equipment and setting up the route so that actors are positioned six feet away from the cars and passengers.

For more information visit: or call 703-790-0123, TTY: 711. For ADA accommodations, contact Patron Services Manager Evelyn Hill at [email protected] or call 571-296-8385.

John Harrell and Jessika D. Williams photo by Lauren Parker.

ASC is currently presenting socially-distanced outside productions. The company is operating with Summer 2020 “SafeStart” programming—an evolving program of coronavirus prevention mediations carefully formulated in consultation with an advisory group of medical experts and local officials familiar with the region and with ASC’s facilities. The plan focuses first on establishing a safe workplace environment for rehearsals, production, and administration and then proceeds to create a safe gathering place for audiences.  The ASC SafeStart Visitor’s Guide is available for viewing here on the company’s website.

Highlights of ASC SafeStart include: Two weeks of virtual rehearsals and intentional self-quarantining of the performance company for the duration of the performance season, Significantly reduced occupancy in all venues and workspaces, Universal masking for all audiences and non-performing staff and volunteers, Enhanced hygiene at all facilities and for all individuals, Socially-distanced seating, contactless ticketing and merchandise purchasing, and the elimination of concessions and programs.

Best Medicine Rep plans to begin live performances again starting on January 29, 2021, starting with Prepping for Widowhood and continuing with The Fifth Date in April. You can find all 2021 show information on the BMR website.

The City of Fairfax Theatre Company is presenting outdoor productions in accordance with safety guidelines.

Seating is socially distanced as per this image. Tickets must be purchased in groups by ONE purchaser from the household to reserve the square. Squares are 10×10 feet and are spaced 10 feet apart from each other, and 10 feet from the available benches. Please note that there are NO tables or chairs included, except for areas 22-27 on the park benches. Each “table” is a marked spot on the lawn. Masks will be required at all times except when seated in your assigned seating block.

Creative Cauldron is going forward with their 2020 Summer Cabaret and Concert Series in a new outdoor socially distanced format. Performances will be held at Cherry Hill Park behind the Community Center in the City of Falls Church. Find out more on their site.

Patrons will be asked pre-screening questions at the time of booking – Seating will be assigned in socially distanced (6ft apart) designated areas – Patrons MUST WEAR MASKS to be admitted and KEEP THEM ON during the concert. – Patrons MUST PROVIDE THEIR OWN chairs and beverages (no alcoholic beverages are permitted) – Patrons MUST MAINTAIN social distancing at all times – Contact-less ticketing – All surface areas that patron or artists come in contact with will be disinfected – Artists will use microphones and be distanced from audience to minimize possibility of aerosol spread.

Elan Ensemble is presenting socially-distanced outdoor productions.

MORE INFORMATION: / 410.216.4423

Having implemented strict safety precautions in keeping with the Mayor’s plan, GALA is
proud to open its 45th Anniversary Season, with The Dog in the Manger (El perro del Hortelano) by Lope de Vega, master of Spain’s Golden Age. Adapted by Paco Gámez and directed by José Zayas, The Dog in the Manger opens October 29 and runs through November 22. The play is performed in Spanish with English surtitles on Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Click for all the details.

November 3, 2020, UPDATE: The Department of Homeland Security of the District of Columbia has informed GALA that it can provide its scheduled programs to the public through the end of the year and accommodate 50 patrons at each performance.

The Greenbelt Arts Center is closed and anticipates remaining so through at least November 30, 2020. All shows are subject to the ability to safely reopen to the public in accordance with state and local mandates. They plan to move forward with productions in a socially distanced manner as soon as they can.
This Wonderful Life – A guest production from Ken Falkenhagen
December 4 – December 13, 2020
The Chromatics Holiday Concert
December 18-20, 2020
A Guest Production from Baltimore Theatre Collective – Directed by Tommy Malek, Music Directed by Rachel Sandler
January 8 – January 30, 2021
**Title to be announced when rights are secured**
Ill Met by Moonlight – Presented by the Rude Mechanicals, Adapted and directed by Joshua Engel
February 5 – February 13, 2021
True West – Presented by Prince George’s Repertory, Directed by Chris Dwyer
February 19 – February 27, 2021
The Mountaintop – Directed by Rikki Howie Lacewell, Produced by Pamela Northrup
March 5 – March 27, 2021
Farragut North – Directed by Bob Kleinberg, Produced by Malca Giblin
April 9 – May 1, 2021
Cymbeline – Presented by the Rude Mechanicals, Directed by Erin Nealer
May 7 – May 15, 2021
Merrily We Roll Along – Directed by Roy Hammond, Produced by Malca Giblin
May 28 – June 19, 2021
Patchwork Girl of Oz – Directed by Eliot Malumuth, Produced by Jenna Jones Paradis
July 2 – July 24, 2021

Joe’s Movement Emporium is moving forward with producing shows outside.

They are also running a Moving Outdoors Campaign. Funds from the campaign will be used to build a large deck in a 600 square-foot area in the back of the gravel parking lot outside the Mt. Rainier facility. This space will: allow for moving arts education outside for ten children, applying the social distancing and safety precautions learned from the careful management of a ten-week summer arts learning program; support the new weekly Outdoor Performance Series, where up to 50 audience members are permitted to gather, with the event also live-streamed; support the daily after-school program Club Joe’s, allow us to live-stream in person yoga; give Joe’s Artist Partners the resources to rehearse safely; and more. During performances, the audience will be seated 25 feet away (as per social distancing best practices) at tables and stools that will also be built specifically for the environment. To move outdoors, Joe’s seeks sponsorship and individual donations totaling $10,000, which will be used to purchase the materials for the deck, accessories, and the labor to construct it. A significant contribution allows the donor to assist Joe’s in naming the space after a community hero or individual the community currently looks to for inspiration.

The Kennedy Center’s famed Opera House will come back to life with a unique concert experience that puts the audience on stage. Artists will perform from a stage extension built into the front of the Orchestra-seating level of the hall while concert-goers, entering through the wide loading doors on the Center’s front plaza, are seated in physically distanced pairs on the Opera House stage to watch performances set against the iconic red interior of the theater. These hour-long, intermission-less concerts will take place approximately once per week for a ticketed audience of under 200 once the District of Columbia reaches phase three of reopening.

The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) makes its anticipated return to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall with three Friday concerts in December 2020. On December 4 and 11 NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda will conduct two concerts with surprise programs to be announced from the stage. Then, on December 18, Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke will lead the orchestra in a Holiday Pops program. These December concerts will be livestreamed and will be performed in front of a live, ticketed, limited capacity, physically distanced audience, should D.C. be in phase three of reopening.

At the REACH, patrons are invited to enjoy a snack overlooking the Potomac or spread out a blanket on the grass with a glass of wine from Victura Park, a pop-up wine garden and café curated by restauranteurs Ian Hilton, Eric Hilton, and chef Erik Bruner-Yang.

As D.C. enters later phases of reopening, the River Pavilion will play home to Sunset Concerts. This series of free hour-long concerts will take place on a stage inside the pavilion with the glass walls opened up for the enjoyment of audiences outdoors. Performances will include select Wednesday evening Millennium Stage/Arts Across America shows, a performance by the WNO Cafritz Young Artists, jazz, hip hop, musical theater, and more.

In addition, local yoga instructors will utilize the expansive green roof of the REACH to lead movement and wellness classes on the Upper Lawn in September and October on select Saturday mornings. Performances and yoga are weather dependent and subject to D.C. phase three of reopening.

LTA is moving forward with their Fall productions, with precautions.

Mayor Bowser’s ReOpen DC Stage 2 would allow Mosaic Theater to welcome audiences of up to 50 people into theaters for live performances. Top priority is the health and safety of our patrons, performers and staff, and safety protocols will in place.

Reduced Seating Capacity – Limited Ticket availability
Socially Distant Seating with six feet between family groups
Masks Required for entry and worn throughout facility
Contact-Free Experience utilizing digital tickets and playbills
Multiple Entrances Utilized to limit wait times and congestion
Lobby Queuing with marked six foot separations
Rigorous Cleaning regimens between performances

Mosaic will only reopen as permitted and instructed by the District authorities. While no one knows yet exactly when this will happen, Mosaic is working with expert consultants, healthcare professionals, and an epidemiologist to ensure comprehensive measures are in place. In the meantime, please participate in ongoing Virtual Public Programming offerings.

Performance photo provided by the National Chamber Ensemble.

The National Chamber Ensemble has been hard at work finalizing its 14th season, while adhering to local regulations and keeping the health and safety of patrons and artists first and foremost. NCE is prepared for the possibility that some of the upcoming season will include virtual performances, but as of now, they invite you to join them on a grand
“European Musical Vacation” of five exceptional performances! NCE’s season will take an amazing journey through some of the most beautiful European cities and their musical masterworks, and will present the most affordable trip to Europe for all. Their season brochure and website describe each stop on the musical journey, and include information on ordering individual tickets and season subscriptions. As a “thank you” for ongoing support, they have lowered subscription prices substantially and waived booking fees. A subscription or individual ticket allows you to attend any live concerts in person OR watch the exclusive concert video approximately a week later in the comfort of your home. Each concert video will also include an invitation to take part in a Zoom Virtual Wine and Cheese Reception featuring performance highlights and live conversation with the artists. Order tickets here.

The NSO will move forward with outside concerts. Click here for details.

NOW is moving forward with outside concerts. Click for details.

Nu Sass Productions presents Backyard Arts. Homeowners can choose from a rotating cast of solo performers to come do a show in their backyard. Nu Sass will send a performer and a stage manager to present a low-tech solo show. You can get more info on their website.

  • All performers, stage managers, and audience’s will sign a contract ensuring safety for one another during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Audiences must be able to provide a large enough space to ensure the safety of the performer and audience
  • Audience will be limited to a single household.
  • Audience will select multiple dates and times, to allow for booking conflicts and rain dates. We’ll do our best to accommodate your first choice.
  • New shows will be added as artist’s become available.
  • You can sign up for a performance of White-ish here!
  • You can sign up for a performance of Wombat Drool here!

Riverside Center for the Performing Arts welcomes their patrons back to live theatre with the hilarious, over-the-top production of Stephen Temperley’s Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins. Andrea Kahane will star as Florence Foster Jenkins, the aspiring singer incapable of producing two consecutive notes in tune. Ms. Kahane will be joined onstage by Carson Eubank in his stage debut at Riverside as Jenkins’ faithful accompanist, Cosmé McMoon. To continue to bring Broadway’s Best safely to Virginia, Riverside Center for the Performing Arts is following all recommendations and guidance issued by the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during a guest’s visit. Riverside Center will be operating at 50% capacity as mandated by the state of Virginia and is enhancing its already high sanitation standards to include frequent sanitation of high-contact areas. Guests will be asked to do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by social distancing six feet (or more when possible) between guests, washing their hands frequently, and wearing a mask. For a full list of preventative measures, please visit! Purchase tickets and learn more about upcoming productions by visiting our website at or calling our Box Office (Monday – Saturday 10-4) at (540)370-4300.

StageCoach Theatre Company is dipping a toe back into the water with a small-scale but enthusiastic productions. Go to their website for details.

Strathmore has announced five major works for 2020-2021. While all three Strathmore venues are temporarily closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Strathmore will continue tracking regulations and reevaluate opening when it is deemed safe to do so. You can find all offerings on their website.



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