February at the Kennedy Center offers an embarrassment of riches across all genres and in all the major venues of the complex. It’s as if programmers at the national performing arts center collectively decided to issue a challenge to area arts lovers, daring them to resist the lure of even just one show.
Most likely, you’ll rack up a solid 10 must-sees before you even flip through the schedule to the last week of the month. Our list? It goes to 11.
Right off the bat, there’s the chance to see one of the greatest romantic ballets of all time, performed by world-class artists “united by the tragedy of war and an ardent hope for the future.” Catching the United Ukrainian Ballet, a 60-member troupe of refugees, perform Giselle in 2023 is sure to be a moving experience you won’t forget. (2/1-5, Opera House)
The month also comes rushing in with a new Broadway Center Stage production ready for its closeup — the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Sunset Boulevard starring Tony-winning powerhouse Stephanie J. Block (Falsettos) as Norma Desmond, Tony-nominee Derek Klena as Joe Gillis, and Grammy-winning baritone Nathan Gunn as Max Von Mayerling. (2/1-8, Eisenhower)
February also gets off to a great start for jazz fans, with an “exquisitely intimate performance” from the inspired pairing of gay pianist and composer Fred Hersch and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, a “living legend” (The New Yorker) meets “the 21st century’s first jazz genius” (NPR). (2/1-2, Studio K)
If you need a good laugh, Sarah Silverman‘s got your back with her new stand-up show Grow Some Lips, which she’ll drop by to perform on a break from regular duties as host of the new TBS show Stupid Pet Tricks and her own acclaimed eponymous weekly podcast. (2/3, Concert Hall)
The legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns for its annual week-long engagement performing several new works and season premieres mixed in with company classics, kicking off with a midweek Gala. (2/7-12, Opera House)
Two days before Valentine’s Day, the Washington National Opera presents a recital with soprano Leah Hawkins, this year’s Marian Anderson Vocal Award winner also recently heralded by the Washington Post as one of “23 for ’23” rising classical stars. (2/12, Terrace Theater)
Among several National Symphony Orchestra programs to come in February, the cream of the crop is a performance of Igor Stravinsky’s legendarily provocative The Rite of Spring, performed with the NSO under the baton of electrifying young Polish conductor Krzysztof Urbański. (2/9-11, Concert Hall)
The American Ballet Theatre returns for its annual run of shows, this year reviving choreographer Kenneth MacMillan’s drama- and emotion-filled Romeo and Juliet, which will be performed with different leads at each performance. (2/15-19, Opera House)
Internationally renowned German-born performer Ute Lemper, returns to her roots in cabaret (and Cabaret) by performing songs from the Weimar Republic and the German avant-garde, including an homage to Marlene Dietrich, as well as to the Jewish composers who fell victim to the Nazis (2/10, Eisenhower).
April Clark and Grace Freud are the trans comedians behind Girl God, touted as “the most popular trans comedy group performing today, if not ever,” on account of their surreal, interactive live performances. (2/11, Studio K)
There’s a common thread between the musical that launches February at the Kennedy Center and the one that closes it, and her name is Stephanie J. Block, returning as The Baker’s Wife in Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, a “strictly limited engagement direct from Broadway” with Montego Glover (as The Witch), Sebastian Arcelus (The Baker), and Gavin Creel (Cinderella’s Prince/Wolf) also reprising their roles from the recent Broadway production. Directed by Lear deBessonet. (2/23-3/19, Opera House)
Visit www.kennedy-center.org or call 202-467-4600.
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