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“Wonderful Theater in a Beautiful Town”

American Shakespeare Center
Ranked #1 of 38 things to do in Staunton
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The Blackfriars Playhouse is the world's only re-creation of Shakespeare's indoor theatre. "Stunning", says Frommer's. Located in historic downtown Staunton, VA, this 300-seat Renaissance theatre offers productions of Shakespeare and classic plays year round that the Washington Post says are "shamelessly entertaining" and the Boston Globe says are "phenomenal...bursting with energy”.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed 30 May 2010

We "stumbled" upon the American Shakespeare Company (ASC) a few years ago, after seeing performances by their road company at Wintergreen Resort. We now travel the three hours from Washington, DC at least once a year to join the ASC at one of their productions. I use the term "join" rather than watch, because, unlike more traditional theaters, the ASC works to make the audience part of the overall theater experience. Their company brings energy to the classics, in a way that more traditional companies (such as Michael Kahn's more famous Shakespeare Theater Company in Washington) sometimes fail to do. The ASC is also willing to explore rarely performed Shakespeare plays, such as the three parts of King Henry VI.

These aren't definitive productions loaded with major visiting actors and expensive sets and costumes. They are, instead, joyful productions staged by actors, many of whom are in their 20s and 30s, who work to stage the plays much as Shakespeare meant them to be performed, with no sets and only basic costumes and props.

Traveling to the ASC also means experiencing Staunton, Virginia, which is itself a major attraction. If you're like us, you'll make a reservation at the Stonewall Jackson, a "grand dame" hotel that's located literally next door to the ASC, and then amble over to the theater shortly before the show begins. Downtown Staunton is also VERY easy to wander around. There are excellent restaurants, used bookstores, hobby shops, and tourist attractions (such as the Woodrow Wilson Home) within easy walking distance of the ASC.

Again, if you're looking for a Shakespeare company that brings youthful enthusiasm to the plays, set in a jewel of a mountain community, that will be really glad to see you, you can't do better than the ASC. Maybe we'll see you there!

2  Thank DoninVirginia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"christmas carol"
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"during intermission"
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"pre show"
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"blackfriars playhouse"
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"twelfth night"
in 18 reviews
"great performance"
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"black friars"
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"romeo and juliet"
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"front row"
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"audience members"
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"talented actors"
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"andrew jackson"
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"backstage tour"
in 9 reviews
"king lear"
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"globe theatre"
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"fun evening"
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"multiple roles"
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748 - 752 of 772 reviews

Reviewed 26 May 2010

The ASC at Blackfriars offers a unique and joyous theater experience where everyone involved with the theater seems to love being there and it shows. The themed pre-show music, drinks cart and audience participation are just a few of the things that make this theater experience special.

2  Thank BarefootCountesa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 May 2010

Period. We try to see all the shows, and generally almost succeed. Comparing it to Shakespeare Theater in DC, Royal Shakepeare Company (both touring and in Stratford) and various other venues over the years, American Shakespeare Center is the best we've seen, and consistently so. We prefer the bench seats (now with backs and cushions!) facing the stage. Acoustics are great, and even if you're not a Shakespeare fan, the acting is engaging and accessible. The non-Shakespeare plays they occasionally perform are also excellent, and I feel that I've gotten a real education in 16th-17th century drama while thoroughly enjoying the ride. Go. Make a weekend of it, see three shows, stay at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel next door, and try out the delicious restaurants nearby.

1  Thank emmajane7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 May 2010

We quite literally stumbled upon Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, VA as we wandered through the historical town. Its unassuming "street face" belies the incredible discovery inside of the world's only reproduction of Shakespeare's indoor theater. We bought tickets on the spot for that night's performance, which was outstanding. I felt absolutely transported back to Shakespearean times. Though we live far away, we have returned two other times when we have stayed at Massanutten Resort near Harrisonburg, VA. In fact, it's been the primary reason we have gone back to that resort. We love theater, and we've honestly never found a better one anywhere.

1  Thank CUMC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 26 May 2010

I live in the area and go as often as I can. The troup makes Shakespeare come alive. I personally prefer the comedies, but if you like bloody Shakespeare, they do a great job with that, too.
Plus, if you are from out of town, Staunton is a pretty 19th century type town, very nice place to visit.

Thank gobert
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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