skip navigation | accessibility
The Kennedy Center


(l-r) Isaiah Johnson, Monique Paulwell, Stephen M. McWilliams in Blues Journey. Photo by Carol Pratt (l-r) Kearstin Piper Brown and Kevin Ray Johnson. Photo by Carol Pratt.

For the past 19 years, Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences on Tour has been a leader in bringing imaginative and original works to communities around the nation. As of the 2011–2012 season, 41 tours played in hundreds of cities in 49 states as well as parts of Canada. More than 2 million children, teachers, and parents have been part of these audiences. Many of the students who see these productions may never have the chance to visit the nation's performing arts center, but could still experience the professionalism and talent that has become the trademark of Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences.

The tours began with a fully mounted production and engagement at the Kennedy Center for Washington, DC metropolitan area audiences. Prior to the touring season, the shows were re-worked specifically for the road, complete with performing company and production staff. Many works are specifically commissioned by the Kennedy Center and affiliates in order to contribute to the development of new plays and musicals for young audiences. It is our belief that supporting the creation of new works for young audiences is critical to the ongoing revitalization of the field.

Tour highlights include: The Red Badge of Courage; The Snow Queen; Little Women; a dance/theater adaptation of The Nightingale; a musical adaptation of Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; an opera version of The Emperor's New Clothes; Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse; Walter Dean Myers' Harlem; Color Me Dark: A Story of the Great Migration North; Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka; The Phantom Tollbooth; Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major—a Kennedy Center collaboration with the White House Historical Association; Nobody's Perfect, a bi-lingual musical in spoken English and American Sign Language, the first tour to travel the country with open-captioning; Barrio Grrrl!; and Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical based on the Caldecott Honor-winning picture book Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems.

(l-r) Rachel Brennan, Zurin Villanueva, and Florrie Bagel in Nobody's Perfect. Photo by Carol Pratt. (l-r) Rachel Brennan, Zurin Villanueva, and Florrie Bagel. Photo by Carol Pratt.

When presenters booked a KCTYA on Tour production, they also received access to a comprehensive education package. Curriculum connections made through Cuesheets, study guides highlighting different activities and information for students for use before and after the performance, and the Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge educational website were featured components of our national touring program.

The 2011–2012 touring season included the national tours of Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical and Locomotion. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical was back for a second touring season – a musical based on the popular Caldecott Honor–winning picture book by Mo Willems about a stuffed animal’s first trip in the laundry, a little girl’s first words, and a Daddy’s first time dealing with his child going “boneless.” Locomotion, an inspiring play by award-winning novelist Jacqueline Woodson from her Coretta Scott King Honor book, is about the journey of an eleven-year-old African American boy as he moves from tragedy to hope, from silence to expression, and from losing one family to gaining a new one through the power of poetry.

(l-r) Vishal Vaidya , Chris Wilson, Michelle Liu Coughlin, Desireé Rodriguez, Deonna Bouye, Christina Aranda, and Diego Prieto in Barrio Grrrl!. Photo by Carol Pratt. (l-r) Vishal Vaidya , Chris Wilson, Michelle Liu Coughlin, Desireé Rodriguez, Deonna Bouye, Christina Aranda, and Diego Prieto. Photo by Carol Pratt.

From giant dancing laundry to a boy who discovers his passion for writing poetry, Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences reveals new worlds of excitement, education, and entertainment.

For more information about Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences on Tour contact us at or (202) 416-8830