Local stars to shine in Mo Willems world premiere at Kennedy Center

The beloved children's novel 'Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus' gets the star treatment in a new musical version.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announces the full cast and creative team for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical!), a Kennedy Center-commissioned world premiere from the Kennedy Center’s first-ever Education Artist-in-Residence, Emmy Award-winning writer and New York Times best-selling author and illustrator Mo Willems.

This fabulously fun and funny musical, running November 23, 2019–January 5, 2020, in the Kennedy Center Family Theater, features a script by Willems and Muppet Babies executive producer Mr. Warburton with music by Deborah Wicks La Puma, direction by Jerry Whiddon, choreography by Jessica Hartman, and dramaturgy by Megan Alrutz.

Utilizing an innovative mix of actors, puppets, songs, and feathers, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical!) stars Christopher Michael Richardson as The Pigeon, Felicia Curry as The Bus Driver, Evan Casey as Hot Dog Vendor/Business Man/Ensemble, Tracy Lynn Olivera as Little Old Lady/Ensemble, Erika Rose as Duckling/Bus Engine/Ensemble, and Hasani Allen as Nerdy Teen/Ensemble.

The production includes music direction by William Yanesh, puppet direction by Scottie Rowell, scenic design by Dan Conway, costume design by Jeannette Christensen, lighting design by Sarah Tundermann, sound design by Justin Schmitz, puppet fabrication by Carole D’Agostino, and properties by Willow Watson

Visitors to the Kennedy Center can also take a tour of the Kennedy Center led by The Pigeon by using the “Tour the Kennedy Center” app, developed by Zappar, a leading global developer of Augmented Reality (AR) experiences and creative tools. In the app, The Pigeon acts as a personal tour guide as visitors explore the campus, scan codes placed on signs at nine points of interest in the 17–acre indoor-outdoor campus, and access interactive trivia.

In addition to Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical!), highlights of the first year of Willems’s two-year residency include an interactive Jazz Doodle Jam! in partnership with Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran, the world premiere orchestral rendition of Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (a Symphonic Spectacular) with music composed by Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor Ben Folds for the National Symphony Orchestra, and this past summer’s Mo Willems & the Storytime All-Stars Present: Don’t Let the Pigeon Do Storytime!, a comedic celebration of reading. Willems also participated in the multidisciplinary 16–day Opening Festival of the REACH, the first expansion of the Kennedy Center in its 48-year history.

This production is most enjoyed by ages 5 and up.


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