Maximize your time at the show

Area arts professionals share insider tips.

© Jacob Lund, Adobe Stock

George Mason University’s Center for the Arts

Steering clear of box-office lines:
The print-at-home ticket option is available to everyone, and mailed tickets can also be requested through the ticket system for a nominal fee. Subscribers have the added option to call the ticket office directly, purchase tickets off the phone and request for their tickets to be mailed at no extra cost.

Camille Cintrón Devlin, assistant director of marketing and communications at Center for the Arts and Hylton Performing Arts Center. Photo by Traci Medlock

Where to grab a meal before the show:
There’s a shopping mall nearby where there are a couple of food options, including the new all-American restaurant called Oh George! They have a bunch of beers on tap, really good American lunch and dinner service. There are also a number of options in Old Town Fairfax, which is about a mile away.

Hylton Performing Arts Center

Where to go at intermission:
Just like at CFA, the Hylton Center has two concessions bars in the lobby. The Lovey Hammel Lounge on the second floor also provides complimentary drinks and snacks for members of the Copper Circle of the Friends of the Hylton Center (donors of $1,000+ annually). In the Didlake Grand Foyer, there is an area set aside for Friends of the Hylton Center, which provides water, coffee, tea and snacks. This is open to all Friends (donors of $100+ annually). And all patrons are welcome to visit the Buchanan Partners Art Gallery, which showcases the work of local artists.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

Sara Beesley, vice president of programming and production at Wolf Trap. Photo by Traci J. Brooks Studio for Wolf Trap Foundation

Getting the best seats:
Any seat is a good seat, but the best time to buy tickets is when they go on sale, earlier in the season. Two great ways to be in the know is to follow Wolf Trap on social media and to sign up for Wolf Trap emails so you’ll be alerted when we announce new shows and when those shows go on sale. You can also consider becoming a Wolf Trap Foundation member; not only do you get early access to tickets, [but] you’re also supporting Wolf Trap’s local and national arts and education programs.

What’s hot at the concessions stand:
The concessions menu was recently revamped to focus on locally sourced products, so there are many great options. Some favorites are the local Angus cheeseburger—made of grass-fed, free-range beef from Maryland—topped with spicy chipotle aioli and paired with the Wolf Trap Summer Ale, created by Vienna’s own Caboose Brewing Co. Over at The Barns at Wolf Trap, some favorites are the Cuban panini and the chicken and sausage gumbo.

Great gift-shop find:
My favorite item at the gift shop is definitely Wolf Trap Honey. Wolf Trap’s executive chef Chris Faessen started a bee-keeping program here at Wolf Trap in 2012 for the environmental benefits and to create homegrown honey and other unique products. It’s delicious.

Signature Theatre

James Gardiner, deputy director, creative content and publicity at Signature Theatre. Photo by Robert Mannis

Must-get from Ali’s Bar:
We have a cafe that serves food and drinks before the show and during intermission. It’s maybe not the best item for dinner, but Lillian’s chocolate chip cookies are amazing. We were actually voted by Washington City Paper as the best theatrical concession stand in the D.C. area, and they specifically pointed out the cookies. People fight over the cookies.

Recommended restaurants nearby:
We are right on the Shirlington strip, which is full of really great restaurants. There are new ones all the time, but I’d recommend Palette 22, a tapas-style restaurant. And there’s Samuel Beckett’s, which is an Irish pub. And then there’s always the Carlyle Grand, and if you go a little further down the road, there’s a great little Italian place called Osteria da Nino.

How to avoid standing in line for intermission wine:
One of the great things about our bar is you can preorder for intermission so you don’t have to wait in line. The minute you come out of the theater, it’s waiting for you.

(December 2017)