Kennedy Center announces 2024/25 Performances for Young Audiences

Filled with everyday heroes in unforgettable adventures in theater, dance, music, circus, and comedy that will empower and entertain audiences of all ages.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announces its 2024–2025 Performances for Young Audiences season, filled with everyday heroes in unforgettable adventures in theater, dance, music, circus, and comedy that will empower and entertain audiences of all ages. Subscriptions are now on sale for this season replete with astronauts, terrible monsters, sharks, and Navajo legends via the Kennedy Center website or by calling (202) 416-8500.

“There is great power in a great story. Each year we strive to engage our young audiences with exciting narratives told from a wide range of perspectives and different art forms,” stated Jordan LaSalle, Vice President of Education. “The Arts’ ability to bring to life words on a page with vivid detail, notes on a score with nuance, or an idea from scratch goes beyond the stage in its impact. It builds connections and understanding with both audiences and artists but also has the power to nourish our creativity, unlocking new stories to be told by future artists. This season we have curated opportunities for every young person in the audience to be inspired by what is seen, heard, and felt on our stages. We can’t wait to see what the next generation of artists and storytellers creates.”

Exploring how every person and every journey can have an impact, audiences will have the
chance to see three world premiere Kennedy Center commissioned productions as part of the season—Finn by Christopher Dimond and Chris Nee with music composed by Michael Kooman; Doktor Kaboom: Under Pressure!; and The Other Children of the Sun by Rhiana Yazzie, which is part of the Theater for Young Audiences BIPOC Superhero Project, a nationwide initiative connecting playwrights of color with TYA theaters and bringing communities together through inspiring stories of new heroes. Musical exploration abounds from small ensembles to full orchestral family concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra including a new concert special to kick-off the NSO Family Concerts series with New York Times best-selling author/illustrator and inaugural Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence Mo Willems. And highlighting the vast talent from the metropolitan DC area, the season includes five presentations from local award-winning artists and companies. To close out the season, the hit Off-Broadway musical featuring everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends will make its DC premiere in summer 2025, presented by Rockefeller Studios.

Committed to ensuring that all families and students from across the nation have access to
original works from the Center’s stages, the stage adaptation of New York Times best-selling author, and Kennedy Center Next 50 leader Jason Reynolds’ Look Both Ways, co-produced with Theater Alliance, will embark on a Kennedy Center for Young Audiences national tour in the spring of 2025, ending with a weekend of performances in the Kennedy Center Family Theater. Tour cities and dates to be announced at a later date.

Throughout the season, families are also invited to explore the artistic process more deeply
through education and engagement resources such as creative conversations with the artists following select performances and hands-on activities at the Moonshot Studio on most Saturdays and Sundays at the REACH.

The 2024–2025 Performances for Young Audiences Season

MO @ the NSO
September 21–22, 2024 | Concert Hall
With the help of all-star guests, New York Times best-selling author/illustrator Mo Willems
introduces fun musical ideas, explores big emotions, and invites viewers to listen, play, and create. In partnership with the National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Enrico Lopez-Yañez, Willems uses music and storytelling to take kids and former kids on a playful journey of symphonic delights.
Most enjoyed by ages 5+

Spells of the Sea
DC Premiere
October 12–20, 2024 | Family Theater
When Finley Frankfurter’s father, a famed fisherman, is struck by the Big Bad Sickness of the Sea, she embarks on an extraordinary quest for the elixir of life. Can Finley, a girl with dreams as vast as the ocean but plagued by self-doubt, save her father against all odds? This enchanting family musical blends laughter, magic, and music to tell a coming-of-age story about facing fears, embracing emotions, and believing in yourself. Spells of the Sea is not just a musical; it’s an inspiring journey for dreamers of all ages.
Most enjoyed by ages 6+

Doktor Kaboom: Under Pressure!
World Premiere Kennedy Center Commission
October 26–November 3, 2024 | Family Theater
Equal parts interactive science, comedy, and personal empowerment messages, Doktor
Kaboom returns with a new show. Doktor Kaboom: Under Pressure! illustrates physical science concepts, which are also metaphors for real-life mental and emotional pressures. Praised for keeping crowds riveted with interest and rolling with laughter, Doktor Kaboom is also known for empowering volunteers from the audience to be the heroes of the moment. In Under Pressure!, Kaboom validates the pressures some students may feel, and shares tools and life lessons as resources for dealing with the difficulties that face us all.
Most enjoyed by ages 8+

NSO Family Concert
Halloween Spooktacular!
October 27, 2024 | Concert Hall
An annual tradition! The Concert Hall transforms into a ghostly sight when ghoulishly attired National Symphony Orchestra musicians, led by conductor Michelle Merrill, celebrate
Halloween. Enjoy a concert filled with musical treats from fa-boo-lous new works to spooky old classics. Arrive early for trick-or-treating and a special Haunted Hall Musical PLAYspace!
Most enjoyed by ages 5+

Sailing on String
Presented by Arts on the Horizon of Alexandria, VA
November 2–5, 2024 | Studio K at the REACH
Two curious explorers take off on a voyage into a world made of string. Yarn birds fly through the air, and a string ship travels the sea. This gentle, engaging performance from Arts on the Horizon features object transformation, movement, live string music, and captivating design. Watch as a simple piece of yarn takes on countless new forms in this special immersive performance for the youngest audience members.
Most enjoyed by ages 0–3 and their families

Concerts for Young Audiences
Uncle Devin
November 9, 2024 | Studio K at the REACH
Go on a magical journey through the Land of Percussion to see and hear different percussion instruments with DC-based musician Uncle Devin. Through this interactive musical experience, kids and their families will discover the history of percussion, the oldest and most diverse form of musical creativity. Known as the “children’s drumcussionist,” Uncle Devin is a national leader in the children’s music industry and an award-winning drummer and percussionist specializing in Family Funk.
Most enjoyed by ages 5+

World Premiere Kennedy Center Commission
November 23–December 22, 2024 | Family Theater
From the creator of Doc McStuffins and Vampirina, Finn explores the depths of the brilliant and beautiful ocean, with quirky sea creature characters and catchy tunes. Hilarious and
heartwarming, this underwater musical chronicles the coming-of-age journey of Finn, a young shark who dreams of following in his family’s footsteps by joining the prestigious Shark Guard. As Finn faces the challenges of growing up and following his heart, the musical takes us on a magical journey of self-discovery, friendship, and adventure. With its extraordinary mix of music and spectacle, Finn showcases the remarkable talents of writing duo Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond, in partnership with Emmy Award winner Chris Nee and director Adrienne Campbell-Holt.
Most enjoyed by ages 5+

Washington National Opera
Jungle Book
December 13–15, 2024 | Terrace Theater
Step into the jungle, where adventure awaits! Join Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera, and more animal characters for a heartwarming tale about friendship, compassion, and forgiveness. The jungle may be filled with dangers but there is strength in chosen family. Our holiday opera returns for all ages with a new take on the Kipling classic from Kamala Sankaram and Kelley Rourke. The beloved story gets a contemporary twist with music from South Asian and Western music traditions and mesmerizing Bollywood dance from Indian classical dance company Taal.
Most enjoyed by ages 5+

Havana Hop: A Children’s Tale of Culture and Confidence!
January 11–12, 2025 | Family Theater
Young Yeila dreams of being a superstar, but her lack of confidence gives her awful stage fright. With advice from her mother and mentors, Yeila begins to find her roots, gain confidence, and be her amazing self! Travel with Yeila as she visits her grandmother in Cuba to add salsa flavor to her own hip hop style. The audience gets to dance along in this dynamic participation play where one actress creates three generations of lively women. Yeila’s fun discovery of her multicultural heritage is written, directed, and performed by Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Paige Hernandez and features music by Nick Tha 1da.
Most enjoyed by ages 2–10

Grey Skies Blue
Presented by SHAPESHIFT of Minneapolis, MN
January 17–19, 2025 | Family Theater
A group of youth face a life-altering experience when one of their Black brothers encounters a policeman. Two lifelong friends embrace their journey of self-identity together. A young woman refuses to be defined by her family’s history of addiction, and a promising relationship is challenged beyond deceit. SHAPESHIFT presents powerful stories of friendship through interconnected vignettes, exploring emotional themes of social injustice, sexual identity, addiction, and betrayal. Join as nine accomplished dancers combine hip hop moves with the lyricism of contemporary dance to illuminate the human experience.
Most enjoyed by ages 9+

NSO Music for Young Audiences
Old MacDonald’s Symphony
Collaboration with Teller Productions of Atlanta, GA
January 18–19, 2025 | Studio K at the REACH
The whole farmyard is getting ready for a hoedown—but it needs your help with the farm
chores. This immersive show, developed specifically for toddlers, will have audience members laughing and dancing along with Old MacDonald and the farmhands. Join for a silly adventure featuring puppets, storytelling, dancing, and a string quartet from the National Symphony Orchestra, presented in collaboration with Teller Productions.
Most enjoyed by ages 0–5

NSO Music for Young Audiences
M2 = (Math x Music)
Featuring the Last Stand Quartet of the NSO
February 1–2, 2025 | Family Theater
The Last Stand Quartet performs a lively program linking the ways in which math is present in all music-making, creating music to move to and engage with on a deeper level. Add together four National Symphony Orchestra musicians—violinists Joel Fuller and Derek Powell, violist Mahoko Eguchi, and cellist Rachel Young—and this ensemble will show audiences how math times music equals fun!
Most enjoyed by ages 5+

The Other Children of the Sun
World Premiere Kennedy Center Commission
February 22–March 9, 2025 | Family Theater
This tale of a Navajo creation legend unfolds not on earth, but in the house of the Sun, where the lesser-known siblings of the Hero Twins reside. These celestial children set forth on a journey to slay monsters—and find their own place in creation. The Other Children of the Sun challenges us to look at heroism through a new lens and reminds us that every journey—no matter how small—has the power to change the course of the universe! This superhero adventure is brought to life by writer and co-director Rhiana Yazzie, a Navajo playwright and trailblazer of Native American storytelling, and co-director Steven Paul Judd, a Kiowa/Choctaw filmmaker and screenwriter.

Part of the Theater for Young Audiences (TYA) BIPOC Superhero Project, a nationwide initiative connecting playwrights of color with TYA theaters and bringing communities together through inspiring stories of new heroes.
Most enjoyed by ages 7+

Concerts for Young Audiences
Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band
March 15, 2025 | Family Theater
Bring the whole family to enjoy smart, crafty lyrics with irresistibly fresh pop beats. Performing in Spanish and English, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band is on the pulse of all things kids’ music, creating indie sounds rooted in whimsical imagination. A two-time Latin Grammy Award winner with several Grammy and Emmy Award nominations, this husband-and-wife duo have been named “THE face of kindie music” (The Washington Post) and “the Rolling Stones of kids music” (Style Network).
Most enjoyed by ages 5+

Leonardo! A Wonderful Show About a Terrible Monster
DC Premiere
Kennedy Center Commission with Manual Cinema of Chicago, IL
March 28–April 6, 2025 | Family Theater
Leonardo is a terrible monster. He tries so hard to be scary, but he just…isn’t. Then Leonardo finds Sam, the most scaredy-cat kid in the world. Will Leonardo finally get to scare the tuna salad out of someone? Or will it be the start of an unlikely friendship? Originally commissioned as a virtual broadcast by the Kennedy Center, Leonardo! uses hundreds of illustrated paper puppets, book pages, two-dimensional props, furry monster puppets, and songs to bring Mo Willems’ books to life. Recreating the experience of holding one of Mo’s books, Manual Cinema brings a show that’s big, bold, colorful, and full of visual rhythm with a playful use of scale.
Most enjoyed by ages 5+

NSO Family Concert
Earth to Space
March 30, 2025 | Concert Hall
Get ready to explore the vastness of space with music inspired by the planets, stars, and
beyond! In anticipation of the September 2025 voyage of Artemis II, the first crewed mission to the moon in over 50 years, the National Symphony Orchestra celebrates the discoveries and beauty of space through music and images. Longtime friend of the NSO and space enthusiast, conductor Emil de Cou will lead this program of musical adventures and celestial learnings. This space-themed family concert is presented as part of the Kennedy Center festival EARTH to SPACE, which runs from March 28–April 13, 2025.
Most enjoyed by ages 5+

Concerts for Young Audiences
April 26, 2025 | Family Theater
Falu introduces children to the wonders of the world. Her “ethereal and transcendent”
(Billboard) songs take families on musical journeys through South Asia and the day-to-day of a child’s wonder. A Grammy Award–winning and internationally recognized artist, Falu is known for her rare ability to seamlessly blend a signature modern style with traditions of Indian classical and folk music. Each concert is a celebration of how music can beautifully express both difference and connection across cultures.
Most enjoyed by ages 5+

Marooned! A Space Comedy
Presented by Alex and Olmsted of Baltimore, MD
May 3–4, 2025 | Family Theater
An astronaut crashes on an uncharted planet. Will she survive strange creatures, an abnormal atmosphere, and isolation in order to find her way home? See for yourself…in Marooned! Featuring music from the Voyager Golden Record, this innovative new puppet show takes place at the outer reaches of space. Internationally acclaimed puppet theater and filmmaking company Alex and Olmsted presents this Jim Henson Foundation grant-awarded production.
Most enjoyed by ages 7+

Minty Fresh Circus
May 8, 2025 | Eisenhower Theater
With an Afro-futuristic vibe and a steam-punk look, Minty Fresh Circus features movement, music, and circus arts in a time-bending journey of redemption. Watch as the artists perform a range of spectacular circus and dance skills sourced from the African Diaspora, including percussive dance, Lindy, hip hop, rope jumping, and more. Conceived by Monique Martin, this US-based circus show features an all-Black cast with a majority-Black creative team. Minty Fresh Circus celebrates the power of Black music and movement, infused with the joy and resilience of those who traversed the transatlantic slave trade.
Most enjoyed by all ages

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks
Co-Production with Theater Alliance of Washington, DC
May 9–11, 2025 | Family Theater
Ten unique perspectives are brilliantly woven into one funny, piercingly poignant look at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life. Washington, DC–area native, New York Times best-selling author, and Kennedy Center Next 50 leader Jason Reynolds conjures 10 tales (1 per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings. This co-production with Theater Alliance returns to the Family Theater after an October 2023 premiere and a Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences national tour in early 2025. See Reynolds’ award-winning book brought to the stage in a faithful musical adaptation by El Chelito and Raymond O. Caldwell, and directed by Caldwell.
Most enjoyed by ages 10+

Sesame Street the Musical
Presented by Rockefeller Studios
July 10–August 31, 2025 | Terrace Theater
Elmo, Cookie Monster, Abby Cadabby, and everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends are taking the stage! Featuring classic Sesame Street songs and brand-new musical numbers, this is your chance to see the Muppets from Sesame Street in a show the New York Times calls “playful and captivating; a beguiling place to play pretend.”

Presented by Rockefeller Studios, the hit Off-Broadway musical features new compositions by Tom Kitt, Helen Park, and Nate Edmondson.
Most enjoyed by ages 2+


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