The National Theatre Foundation

Administrative Address

1321 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004
United States

Administrative Phone Number
Box Office Phone Number
Theatre Description
Since its opening in 1835, just blocks from the White House, The National Theatre (The National) has premiered landmark American musicals, including West Side Story in 1957; hosted presidential inaugural balls; and played a significant role in important national events. Deeply steeped in the history of the United States, it was at The National that President Lincoln watched the Washington debut of John Wilkes Booth in the title role of Shakespeare’s Richard III. The original theatre was reconstructed several times in the 19th century following a number of fires. The current building had its first performance in 1923 and in the early 1980s, the theater underwent a major renovation. The refurbished theater opened in 1984, with President and Mrs. Reagan attending a gala benefit performance of David Merrick’s 42nd Street. Simply put, few theatres in America have the history, prestige, and continuing vitality of The National Theatre.

In 1973, the National Theatre Corporation (now The National Theatre Foundation (NTF)) became the non-profit entity charged with maintaining and strengthening the physical theatre, as well as its engagement with the broader DC community. NTF funds necessary capital improvements and maintenance to preserve this historic facility, as well as support free community and educational programming, and make possible the management of a vast, content-rich archive.

Through its work, NTF seeks to create innovative, entertaining experiences, inspire future audiences and performers through our decades-long commitment to community educational programming, and celebrate our legacy as a historic cultural venue. Our first community-based program was Saturday Morning Live! At The National (SML!), which recently celebrated its 40th Anniversary. We launched our Community Stage Connections (CSC) program soon thereafter and, most recently, added Teens Behind the Scenes (TBTS).

The National has welcomed almost every major theatrical star in United States history. It strives to be the “Stage for the Nation,” by presenting the highest caliber of performing arts genres, ranging from Broadway productions to popular entertainment and award-winning educational programming. The National’s 2022-2023 season includes nine Broadway productions along with our three primary community education programs: (1) Saturday Morning Live! At The National, a series of free educational programs for children; (2) Community Stage Connections, a free program that brings theatrical and musical performances throughout the District of Columbia and surrounding communities that experience barriers to accessing the arts; and (3) Teens Behind the Scenes, which provides DMV-area (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia) high school students interested in the performing arts with free tickets to Broadway productions and talk-backs with theatre professionals. Given the diversity of the DMV area, a particular focus of our community education programs is engaging children and youth from racially minoritized and economically disadvantaged communities. During the pandemic, all of our programs pivoted to a virtual online format. We are now beginning to transition back to in-person performances.
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