Things to Do

October Theater in Washington

Plays, musicals, and more to see this month.

Synetic Theater's The Island of Dr. Moreau begins October 1. Photograph by Mark Finkenstaedt.


H.G. Wells’s 1896 horror novel The Island of Dr. Moreau gets the Synetic Theater treatment, with an original score and direction by Paata Tsikurishvili, who also stars. October 1 through November 2.

Every weekend in October, Washington Improv Theater offers a new, Halloween-appropriate improv show (sample title: Witch, Please!). The puns will likely be the scariest part. October 3 through November 1 at DC Arts Center

October 7 through November 9, Signature Theatre stages Elmer Gantry, the story of a broke salesman who joins up with an evangelical group and uses his snake-oil charm to gain power and influence—until it all threatens to blow up in his face. The musical is based on a 1927 novel by Sinclair Lewis.

In Fetch Clay, Make Man, Round House Bethesda explores the unlikely bond between boxer Muhammad Ali and Stepin Fetchit—an African-American entertainer known for stereotypical Hollywood roles—in the days leading up to Ali’s most famous match. The play is a coproduction with California’s Marin Theatre Company. October 10 through November 2.

The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is having a resurgence in Washington: After Landless Theatre put on a prog-metal version of Stephen Sondheim’s twisted musical Sweeney Todd this summer, the Virginia Opera opens its 40th-anniversary season with this more traditional take. October 12 at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts.

Sex With Strangers at Signature Theatre, directed by Aaron Posner, stars Holly Twyford and Luigi Sottile as two people whose instant attraction and subsequent one-night stand are complicated by their respective online lives. October 14 through December 7. 

At Studio Theatre beginning October 15 is The Wolfe Twins, Rachel Bonds’s dark drama about a man named Lewis, his estranged sister, an Italian vacation, and secrets coming to light courtesy of Lewis’s friendship with a beautiful stranger. Through November 2. 

October 21 through November 9 at Arena Stage is Our War, a new series of monologues by 25 playwrights including Pulitzer Prize winners David Lindsay-Abaire and Lynn Nottage. At certain performances, notable Washingtonians—among them Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews—will read a monologue of their choosing. The production is part of the National Civil War Project.

Visible Language, a co-production with Gallaudet University and WSC Avant Bard, has its world premiere at WSC October 21. For more on this play, read our earlier story

The world-premiere musical Little Dancer is inspired by the ballerina on whom Degas modeled his sculpture “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” (which you can see at the National Gallery of Art). Tony winner Susan Stroman directs. October 25 through November 30 at the Kennedy Center

Shakespeare Theatre Company opens its season with the Bard’s cross-dressing comedy As You Like It, helmed by British director Michael Attenborough. October 28 through December 7.

Folger Theatre presents Julius Caesar, Shakespeare’s drama of political machinations, which feels especially relevant on the eve of midterm elections. October 28 through December 7.

Beginning October 30 at Forum Theatre is the regional premiere of How We Got On, Idris Goodwin’s play about three suburban kids coming of age and discovering themselves through the rap music of the 1980s. Through November 22.

Fiddler on the Roof, the musical about love, tradition, and acceptance, turns 50 this year, and while its plot may be a bit outdated, the songs (“If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset”) are as catchy as ever. Arena Stage’s production stars Tony nominee—and Walter Johnson High School grad—Jonathan Hadary as Tevye. October 31 through January 4. 



Awake and Sing! is at Olney Theatre through October 19. Read our review

Belleville closes at Studio Theatre October 12. 

Driving Miss Daisy is at Ford’s Theatre until October 26. 

Marie Antoinette closes at Woolly Mammoth October 12. 

Take Me Out is at 1st Stage until October 12. Read our review

Taffety Punk’s The Devil in His Own Words closes October 4. 

The Seven Year Itch is at American Century Theater’s Gunston Theater until October 11. Read our review

The Shoplifters is at Arena Stage until October 19. 

Three Sistahs is at MetroStage through November 2. Read our review

Yentl closes at Theater J October 5. Read our review

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