Lots More info on Howard Theatre’s Opening in April

Last week we learned that Wanda Sykes would be headlining at the newly reopened Howard Theatre in April. Now comes many more details (and awesome old photos) from a press release:

The Howard Theatre, the historic arts landmark that launched the careers of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes, announces their grand re-opening after a $29 million renovation with a star-studded opening gala and lineup of top-tier events. The Howard Theatre will re-open the week of April 9th with performances by Wale, The Roots, Robert Randolph, Taj Mahal, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), Meshell Ndegeocello, Bad Brains, Chuck Brown and comedienne Wanda Sykes.

On April 12th, the new venue will host a Grand Opening Gala Fundraiser presenting performers from the Howard Theatre’s past and future including Smokey Robinson, Al Jarreau, Madeleine Peyroux, Savion Glover and many more. The event will honor famed Motown Records founder and producer Berry Gordy, who will be in attendance. A full slate of wide-ranging performances in the 12,000 square foot, 650 seat (1,100-standing room) theatre will continue with a lineup that includes Chuck Berry, Chaka Khan, Esperanza Spalding, Jack Bruce, Boyz II Men and a weekly Sunday Brunch featuring the Harlem Gospel Choir. The scheduled lineup is listed at the end of this release.

The Howard Theatre will be operated by Blue Note Entertainment Group, the owners and operators of clubs and theaters around the world which include the Blue Note Jazz Club, B.B. King Blues Club and The Highline Ballroom in New York.

An Old Theatre Steeped in New Design and Technology

The Howard Theatre features a regal windowed façade, originally incorporated into the structure in 1941, and combines elements of Beaux Arts, Italian Renaissance and neoclassical design.

The balconied interior is built with flexibility including supper club-style seating for approximately 650, which can be quickly removed through elevated hydraulic platforms to allow standing room for 1,100. The new configuration, with black walnut walls, oak floors and Brazilian granite bars on each level, features a $2 million state-of-the-art acoustic system, 10’ video screens and recording capabilities allowing The Howard to retain the intimate feel of its former 1,200-seat space, while appealing to both traditional and digital-age audiences, be it for a live performance, a private gala or a political fundraiser. A deeper stage, basement and additional wing space provides for enhanced set preparation, gourmet kitchen and administrative office space. A 600-square-foot museum and gift shop will showcase memorabilia, photos and videos of the astounding array of artists and guests who graced The Howard in years past. 100 dedicated parking spaces will be available at the neighboring mixed-use development, Progression Place.

A Washington Dining Destination

In addition to first-rate entertainment, the Howard Theatre will feature a full dining menu designed by consulting chef, Marcus Samuelsson , the youngest chef to ever receive two three-star ratings from The New York Times . In addition to designing the dinner and brunch menus, Marcus and his team from the Marcus Samuelsson Group will assist in the appointment of the Theatre’s executive chef and develop the training program for the culinary staff.

Continues after the jump.

Like its other award-winning supper club properties, the theatre will open its doors two hours prior to all seated shows, offering a full dining menu with first-come, first-serve basis seating. For standing room only shows, a streamlined menu will be offered. “The ability to offer a great dining experience in addition to great music really separates us from the entertainment pack,” says Bensusan. “We will have a menu like none other in Washington, allowing our patrons to have a dining and performance experience that will be truly unparalleled.”

A Full Opening Schedule

The Howard Theatre will begin its opening with the Howard Theatre Community Day on April 9th, featuring live music performances, memorabilia displays and tours of the theatre. A memorabilia drive is currently underway, in which members of the community are donating tickets, posters, and souvenirs from the theatre’s past.

The Grand Opening Gala and Tribute Concert will be held on Thursday, April 12, 2012. A fundraiser for Howard Theatre Restoration, the 501c3 charged with preserving the building and history of the theatre, the event will feature a full line-up of legendary music, comedy and dance performances. “This will be a memorable night of entertainment that will officially raise the curtain of the Howard, celebrating the great history of entertainment at the theatre while looking toward its magnificent future,” says Ellis.

In addition to its opening evening performance lineup, the theatre will also host Sunday Gospel Brunch featuring the Harlem Gospel Choir, a completely seated, weekly gospel concert and brunch for $35 including a full Southern-style buffet brunch. Sunday Gospel Brunches will begin at 12:30 each Sunday starting April 15.

“Washington DC does not have a venue like the Howard which incorporates great food, state-of-the-art sound, lighting and video systems,” says Bensusan. “In addition to presenting great music, we plan to host many private events and corporate functions at the Howard. We are proud to bring the Howard Theatre back to Washington D.C. and look forward to adding a brand new chapter to its illustrious history.”

A complete list of scheduled talent and ticket pricing can be found at the end of this release. Tickets for all scheduled events will be available for purchase beginning February 27th at www.thehowardtheatre.com.

The Howard Theatre is located at 630 T Street NW, 620 T Street NW, Washington, DC, www.thehowardtheatre.com.

26 Comment

  • Incredible. So excited for this.

  • Bad Brains, Chuck Brown, The Roots…etc. sign me up! Now lets just hope the Lincoln Theatre gets back on the right track.

  • Amazing lineup and nice website.

    How can this place have amazing shows booked two months out, multiple times a week, and the Lincoln theater is about to go under? What is it about DC public management that makes the Lincoln forever in peril of bankruptcy?

  • This is – not exaggerating – one of the best bits of news I’ve seen in my 36 years as a Washingtonian.

  • I’m so excited about how this area is transforming. Given the Howard, Progression Place, Shaw’s Tavern, Cafe Bohem and other restaurants opening, in 2 or 3 years, no one will recognize the area. If I didn’t aleady live in the area, I’d be racing to buy there before everything remotely affordable is gone.

    I know some people think the Howard looks plastic and fake but I think it looks fabulous and just like the old photos of it in the glory years. Much of Europe rebuilt its beautiful old buildings after the war — and thank god they did. Old buildings, even if restored, are the soul of a city, and the Howard will give Shaw, Ledroit and all of DC a lot more soul.

    • I hate to break it to ya, but everything affordable is already gone.

      • I guess it depends on how you define affordable. My point is that someone able to buy in Dupont or Logan can a lot more for his or her money in Shaw or Bloomingdale — at least for now. The investment is probably more likely to appreciate by a greater amount, too. I’m always amazed at how many people still have no idea where Bloomingdale and Ledroit are. It just goes to show that they still have not been fully discovered, namely cause a lot of people don’t venture past Nelly’s or the 9:30 club. The Howard and the new restaurants will help to pull people down Florida Avenue and break that quasi-barrier.

        • Shaw definitely continues to improve, but I’d be wary of buying a house there strictly for anticipated appreciation. Better to buy because you like the neighborhood, not because you think you’ll make a killing. And comparing Dupont to Shaw & Bloomingdale is comparing apples & oranges.

          • I agree totally and love the neighborhoods. I suspect a lot of other people would love them, too, if they knew about them. A year and a half ago, I was afraid of the area cause I was clueless.

  • this should kill any thoughts of comparisons to the Lincoln.

  • Someone told me that Coldplay was going to do a show at the Howard Theatre, but their DC shows scheduled for July 8-9 are showing up as being at the Verizon Center. Has anyone heard anything more about this?

  • Also news from Washingtonian that Marcus Samuelsson has signed on as a consulting chef. I’m hoping it’s a great fit.


  • very exciting. VERY exciting.

  • Seriously, is it that hard to see how an entertainment company running a theatre works, and the DC government running a theatre is the Lincoln…lol.

  • This is exactly what this city needs! I hope the music and offerings are eclectic like the 9:30 rather than the eh offings at the Fillmore.

  • If the Howard can continue to bring in this caliber of performer, it should have a bright future.

  • Very exciting. Gave me goosebumps reading about the details! So glad I bought my little Bloomingdale house 3 years ago.

  • claire

    Wow! I seriously got chills reading this news. So good to hear and I know I’ll definitely be checking it out once it opens!

  • Wow, fabulous news. Hope it is sustainable. What a difference competent management can make.

  • that is a sick opening line up of shows

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