Washington DC isn’t somewhere you wouldn’t normally think of when you think hit broadway shows or broadway celebrities, but surprisingly enough we do have one venue that not only has produced some of the greatest and most well known and loved shows in the world, but also has had some of the most well known and biggest stars in the world come through it. This venue is probably one of the largest cultural centers for the arts I have ever seen with the massive theatres you are used to and even classic styled theatres with all shapes and sizes in the other sections.
People travel from all over the world to not only see this massive building dedicated to the arts, but every year thousands of students and instructors go to the Kennedy Center to learn to sing, act, dance, teach, put on a production, work lights, and even more people flock to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC to see world class talent and shows.
The Kennedy Center was inspired and sort of dreamed up by a man named Roger L. Stevens. Not only was Roger one of the visionaries who brought the idea of a huge national center for the arts, but he also was the person who redesigned and rediscovered how the Musicals would become what they are and always found shows that would push limits and work on taboo subjects.
Roger brought the idea of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and after he convinced John F. Kennedy to come on board and get congress to back it, he then got to see his dream of this building begin to come to life and after 10 years of building this massive structure his idea for a National Conservatory for the Performing Arts became a reality and the US now had it’s very own National building dedicated to one of the greatest forms of entertainment ever and one of America’s biggest visionaries running it.
Roger Stevens believed so much in theatre and pushing boundaries that he used his personal bank accounts to fund numerous shows, especially ones that no one else would touch. He also did something else that people wouldn’t expect. He launched them and tested them right here in Washington DC instead of off broadway or in cities like San Francisco. Instead he used the Kennedy Center and brought us some of the most well known shows and songs that people still sing and recognize today.
Some of the shows that Roger Stevens believed in and brought us, even when no one else would back them include Annie, West Side Story, Bus Stop, A Man for All Seasons, Tea and Sympathy, Love Letters, Shadowlands, She Loves Me and a heck of a lot more shows and hits. He not only saw the value in pushing these controversial shows, but he found a way to take them and make them work. What was even better was that instead of taking the shows straight to a city like New York, he launched them in Washington DC and more importantly at the Kennedy Center. Besides Roger, other people have amazing memories of the Kennedy Center. I went to the Spring Gala this year and was shocked to learn that Ben Vereen had one of his most memorable shows launch at the Kennedy Center as well, Pippin.
Not only was Pippin one of the most beloved shows and one of the shows that helped to launch his career, but he also thanked it for bringing many other shows to life. It was amazing to hear about the impact and how many famous shows were tested here in Washington DC and how when they started here they went straight to broadway and shows like Pippin went on to win numerous Tony Awards and many other achievements. It was absolutely amazing to get to learn how many of the most popular shows started here in Washington DC and even better at the Kennedy Center.
Although it isn’t as old as some of the classic theatres in the USA and the outside isn’t glamorous, it is one of the most massive structures and the inside of the theatres just scream class. You can tell that the people who work there love their theatre and respect it and what is even more important is that they all work to really take care of it and its history.
Many people wouldn’t think of Washington DC and especially not the Kennedy Center when they think of historic Theatre and Broadway or as a city and theatre to test in, but oddly enough the Kennedy Center is one of the most popular and one of the best testing grounds for shows that go on to become hits and win tons of awards.
The Kennedy Center is one of those hidden structures that help to keep Theatre and Performing Arts alive and if you are ever in Washington DC, take a break from the monuments and museums and take a minute to visit this historic piece of Theatre history.