Howard Theatre To Reopen In April With Help From New York Chef Marcus Samuelsson

WASHINGTON -- The historic Howard Theatre, which has been on a long road to rehabilitation, will finally reopen the week of April 9 after a lengthy $29 million renovation.

The Washington Business Journal reports that, in addition to hosting buzz-worthy national music acts, it will also be home to a supper club with menus designed by famed New York City-based restaurateur, Marcus Samuelsson. The chef, known for his restaurants Red Rooster Harlem and Restaurant Aquavit, will design dinner and brunch menus and help select an executive chef to oversee the kitchen.

Samuelsson isn't the only New York import to have a stake in the theater on T Street NW near Florida Avenue. The theater, which when finished will seat up to 650 people in its 12,000 square feet, will be operated by Blue Note Entertainment Group. The New York company is also the force behind the city's popular Blue Note Jazz Club, B.B. King Blues Club & Highline Ballroom and other venues outside the state.

The Howard is its first venture in the nation's capital.

The Washington Post snagged an early look at the theater's upcoming lineup, which includes an interesting mix of old and new, comedy and music.

  • A soft opening for the venue with Wale on April 9, the same day as a free Howard Theatre Community Day, featuring live music and tours of the theater.
  • A three-night run by comedian Wanda Sykes from April 13-15.
  • Performances by the Roots on April 15 and 16.
  • Bad Brains and GZA on April 20.
  • Chaka Khan on May 5.
  • Esperanza Spalding on May 12.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis on May 18.

Tickets for many of the shows fall at $35 or under, though Chaka Khan tickets will be $75, the Roots will be $55 and Wanda Sykes tickets will run $95.

The Post also revealed that the interior of the space has walls lined in black walnut and a balcony level with banquettes. The look is "somewhere between Strathmore and the Fillmore."

The Howard has long held a storied place in D.C. history. Built in 1910, it gained fame for primarily featuring African-American artists. The stage has seen the likes of Duke Ellington, Buddy Holly, Sarah Vaughn, Dinah Washington, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown and the Flames, Otis Redding, All Motown & Stax Recording Stars, Lena Horne and Lionel Hampton.

It closed in the early 1980s, but efforts to restore the property had gained steam in recent years.