Mo Willems, popular children’s book author of the Elephant and Piggie early reader series and the incorrigible Pigeon of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, is the Artist-in-residence at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to add another feather [ahem] to his cap. Specially commissioned by the Kennedy Center, Mo Willems co-writes the script for this Pigeon-centric musical which includes characters from other books like Duckling and Puppy. The one-hour long musical filled with references to other Mo Willems’ books, wild antics, and catchy songs is bound to capture the attention of children 5 years old and up. For a very reasonable price of $20/ticket, the whole family can be a part of the Pigeon train, or in this case, bus. Limited seats are available. Catch the show before it finishes its run on January 5, 2020.
The Kennedy Center is best known for its classical music performances and musical plays. Once a year, it hosts the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors to recognize those who have made major “contributions to American culture.” So if you have bought tickets for an afternoon performance, here are some suggestions to while away the time:
Take the guided tour of the Kennedy Center (inquire at the lower level desk across the gift shop). The tour takes you through the different
concert and performance venues in the vast cultural complex. The guide also points out the many gifts presented by various countries that add to the elegance and beauty of the center. Among those are chandeliers from Sweden, a kimono from Japan, tapestries from Mexico, and sculptures from France. You also get to visit the various lounges based on the country that “sponsored” it. The Israeli lounge boasts a magnificent ceiling of vibrant colors depicting scenes from the Bible which are reflected below on the mirrored tables. The volunteer guides were a fount of knowledge and were very patient with the little ones in tow.
A new development just outside of the Kennedy Center opened this year (2019) called The Reach. It also has its own guided tours which are available at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m (Mondays – Fridays) and at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. It is a place for “collaboration, experimentation, and exploration in the spirit of President Kennedy’s vision for a new frontier for the arts” with indoor exhibits and studios as well as outdoor spaces.
If the little ones are getting tired of tours, you may want to head straight to the Moonshot Studio, a “hands-on learning lab”, a mini-maker space
where children can work at different stations using different media to express and create. The Mixmaster Station allows children to create and play with sounds, rhythms, and beats; while the Art Studio has a light table where children may trace famous characters from Mo Willems’ books. There is also a crafts table as well as a free drawing table. It’s a lot of fun activities for restless hands and creative minds.
On a good day, head to the terrace and get a wonderful birds’ eye view of Georgetown and Arlington, VA. The views are spectacular as the city skylight is bordered by fall foliage colors and the great Potomac River gently rolls at its base.
Some tips for a budget-friendly outing to the Kennedy Center:
Cheap eats are available at nearby Chinatown (Chinatown Express has daily lunch specials and hefty servings that can help shave off the hunger pains for the rest of the afternoon.)
If catching a show, get the prepaid parking tickets as these sell out fairly fast. It is cheaper because it is a fixed price and guarantees you a slot.
Bring light snacks and water bottles for the little ones. It helps fight off crankiness and helps preoccupy their minds when boredom sets in.
*Artworks on display may not be touched so it may be a challenge to get the little hands off the statues and tapestries on display.