DCTA 2023 Staff Favorites: Outstanding Professional Productions

These professional productions made an indelible impression on our writers this year. Did we overlook a favorite of yours? Let us know in a comment!

While “normal” still feels a long way off when it comes to producing theater post-COVID, 2023 was the year that DMV theater artists were finally able to get back to work at something approaching pre-COVID levels. Of the 300+ professional DMV productions that DCTA reviewed in 2023, the following resonated most deeply with our writers. These shows exemplify the wide range of work being done in the region — work that, in our estimation, makes the DMV one of the best places to see theater in America.

Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches (Arena Stage) and The Jungle (STC/Woolly Mammoth co-production) were the most popular shows overall with DCTA writers in 2023. Both productions were holistically excellent, pairing top-notch creative teams with set design that invited audiences into the productions in boundary-smashing ways, be it through the 28,000 pounds of sand that made up the set in Angels in America or the ripped-out seats that turned STC’s Sidney Harman Hall into a refugee shelter in The Jungle.

When it comes to opera, DCTA writer Gregory Ford notes that DC stages continued to expand the notion of what and who opera is for. Strathmore’s production of Parable of the Sower (by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon) and the Washington National Opera’s Blue (by Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson) were among several new operas that “welcomed stories of African heritage into the opera canon.”

As for more intimate work, DCTA writers were big fans of The Honey Trap at Solas Nua and Monumental Travesties at Mosaic Theater Company, among others. Here at DCTA, we love to see a local hero go big and playwright Psalmayene 24 was on a roll this year with work produced at several regional theaters. But it was Monumental Travesties, the play he wrote as the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at Mosaic Theater, that packed the biggest emotional punch for our writers.

In 2023, the region continued to be a launch pad for productions with Broadway aspirations. The Kennedy Center production of Spamalot has already transferred, and all eyes are now on the much-buzzed-about Swept Away (the sailors’ yarn now playing at Arena Stage — get yer tickets while ye can, maties!), which hopes to do the same.

DC stages were also home to stellar revivals of American theater classics this year. Ragtime at Signature Theatre (still playing if you want to catch it) has been hailed by critics across town as a singular revival while Fun Home (yes, yes, it was first performed in 2009 but I think it’s safe to call it a classic at this point) at Studio Theatre hit in all the right ways.

Synetic Theater, represented here by three outstanding productions — Cyrano de Bergerac, Snow Maiden, and The Tell-Tale Heart — got unwelcome news from its landlord that it must vacate its Crystal City space next year.

And on another somber note, 2023 was the year we said goodbye to a few of our favorite local theaters. Rep Stage folded after 30 years as the in-house theater at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. DCTA writer Jared Strange notes that Rep Stage’s final production, Falsettos, was “an excellent production and a great way to bring the company full circle.” DCTA also bids a wistful farewell to 4615 Theatre Company, a company that came of age alongside many of DCTA’s writers and one that we always delighted in covering. 4615’s final production, A Delicate Ship, made our list of staff faves and we wish all best to the departing 4615 crew on their next adventures.

Without further ado, here are the DCTA 2023 Staff Favorites for Oustanding Professional Productions.

Nicole Hertvik
DCTA Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

Billie Krishawn (The Angel) in ‘Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches.’ Photo by Margot Schulman.

2023 DC Theater Arts Staff Favorites for Outstanding Professional Production

42nd Street, Riverside Performing Arts Center
Adrift: A Medieval Wayward Folly, Happenstance Theater
Angels in America, Part 1: Millennium Approaches, Arena Stage
A Delicate Ship, 4615 Theatre Company
Angel Number Nine, Rorschach Theatre
Arms and the Man, Washington Stage Guild
Bars and Measures, Mosaic Theater Company
Blue, Kennedy Center

Far left: Baritone Joshua Conyers as The Reverend; seated at table, left to right: Kenneth Kellogg (The Father), Aaron Crouch (The Son), and Briana Hunter (The Mother) in Washington National Opera’s ‘Blue.’ Photo by Scott Suchman.

Chuck and Eva, IN Series
Cyrano de Bergerac, Synetic Theatre
Dorothy’s Dictionary, Washington Stage Guild
Escape to Margaritaville, Toby’s Dinner Theatre
Falsettos, Rep Stage

Jake Loewenthal (behind) as Marvin and Davon Williams (lying) as Whizzer in ‘Falsettos.’ Photo by Katie Simmons-Barth.

Fat Ham, Studio Theatre
Fela!, Olney Theatre Center in a co-production with Round House Theatre 
Fever Dream, Contemporary American Theatre Festival
Fitting In, Arts on the Horizon
Fun Home, Studio Theatre

Thani Brant as Joan and Maya Jacobson as Medium Alison in ‘Fun Home.’ Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Hula Hoopin’ Queen, Imagination Stage
Hurricane Diane, Avant Bard Theatre
I and You, Compass Rose Theater
I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky, IN Series
Incendiary, Woolly Mammoth Theatre
Ink, Round House Theatre in a co-production with Olney Theatre Center
Kill the Ripper, We Happy Few Productions
King Lear, Shakespeare Theatre Company
Kinky Boots, Olney Theatre Center
La Salpêtrière, Taffety Punk Theatre Company
La valentía (Valor), GALA Hispanic Theatre
Last Match, 1st Stage
Love and Vinyl, Independent Production by Bob Bartlett
Macbeth in Stride, Shakespeare Theatre Company
Monty Python’s Spamalot, Kennedy Center,
Monumental Travesties, Mosaic Theater Company

Louis E. Davis as Chance, Jonathan Feuer as Adam, and Renee Elizabeth Wilson as Brenda in ‘Monumental Travesties.’ Photo by Chris Banks.

My Mama and the Full-Scale Invasion, Woolly Mammoth Theatre
one in two, Mosaic Theater Company
Pacific Overtures, Signature Theatre
Pitchfork Disney, Red Rat Theater
Parable of the Sower, IN Series
POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive, Arena Stage
Ragtime the Musical, Riverside Center for the Performing Arts
Ragtime the Musical, Signature Theatre

Nurney, Ariel Friendly, Keenan McCarter, Nkrumah Gatling, Jordyn Taylor, Theodore Sapp, and Kara-Tameika Watkins in ‘Ragtime.’ Photo by Daniel Rader.

Redeemed, The Contemporary American Theatre Festival
Ride the Cyclone, Arena Stage
Scorched, ExPats Theatre
Snow Maiden, Synetic Theatre
Spamalot, Kennedy Center

Michael Urie, Rob McClure, Michael Fatica, and Kaylee Olson in ‘Spamalot.’ Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Swept Away, Arena Stage
Sylvia, Compass Rose Theater
The Ordering of Moses
, IN Series
The Bluest Eye, Theater Alliance
The Chameleon, Theater J
The Confederates, Mosaic Theater Company
The Honey Trap, Solas Nua
The Jungle, Shakespeare Theatre Company in a co-production with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
The School for Lies, Constellation Theatre
The Tell-Tale Heart, Synetic Theatre

Alex Mills as Edgar and Irakli Kavsadze as the Old Man in ‘The Tell-Tale Heart.’ Photo by Jorge Amaya.

The Tempest, Classic Theatre of Maryland
The Winter’s Tale, Folger Theatre
Urinetown, Workhouse Arts Center

DCTA 2023 Staff Favorites: Outstanding Professional Performances
DCTA 2023 Staff Favorites: Outstanding Creative Components (Professional)


  1. Couldn’t agree more with colleagues at DCTA on the following kudos:
    Janos Staz’ production of Angels in America grew with every viewing and makes me feel again that it takes a visionary outsider to show us Americans who we really are
    Great ensemble production in Signature’s Ragtime
    and terrific focused re-imagined production of Fun Home at Studio
    (Note Bobby Smith anchored both these lat two productions brilliantly!)
    In opera, Blue was a landmark work by WNO of one of America’s most troubling re-occurring tragedies in the deaths of our young black men by the police…
    and Grounded, a collaboration featuring the same brilliant composer Jeannine Tesori, who also composed Fun Home!,) was even more brilliant and prescient as a work revealing our troubled times. This one slaps us in the face about our new world of drone warfare and its consequences.
    I shout it’s Tesori’s year!


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