Fall into Winter with a Cool Line-Up of Live Entertainment

Audiences will be "spellbound" by Akeelah and the Bee at Arena Stage

Audiences will be “spellbound” by Akeelah and the Bee at Arena Stage

The weather might be cooling down, but local venues are heating up with all kinds of productions for young audiences. Dramatic plays, concerts, musicals, superhero stories, monster truck battles, ice skating extravaganzas, puppet shows, dance performances, and basketball magic are among the amazing line-up of entertainment currently on stages or coming soon. (And I’ve included a couple of grown-up recommendations!) Which ones will you be saving seats for?

Where: Arena Stage
When: Through January 3
Tickets: $64 and up (look for discount tickets)

Charles Dickens’ unforgettable characters burst to life in this Tony Award-winning musical. Artistic Director Molly Smith’s new in-the-round staging blends the chaotic worlds of 19th-century Victorian London with 2015 London and infuses a modern edge to the classic story about an innocent orphan thrown into the dark world of double-dealing thieves and conmen. Bursting with jubilant songs, including “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two,” “Consider Yourself,” “Where is Love?” and the scrumptious “Food, Glorious Food,” the show will serve up a musical feast for the eyes and ears that will have every theater-lover calling out for “More!”

Akeelah and the Bee
Where: Arena Stage
When: Through December 27
Tickets: $40 and up (look for discount tickets)

Based on the beloved film, Akeelah and the Bee tells the story of an independent 11-year-old girl whose razor-sharp mind just might take her all the way from the Chicago projects to the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Owen and I saw this show, and we both thought it was fantastic! The performances are so good, you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting to find out what happens. School-aged kids and older (including adults) will love it.

A Year with Frog and Toad
Where: Imagination Stage
When: Through January 10
Tickets: $15-35

The hit Broadway and Tony Award-nominated musical inspired by the acclaimed children’s books, Frog and Toad, is a holiday classic! Two best friends with completely opposite personalities wake up from hibernation, and enjoy hilarious and heartwarming adventures through the seasons. When Frog learns that Toad doesn’t receive mail, he quickly writes him a letter and asks the Snail to deliver it. Several uproarious Vaudeville vignettes ensue in which the friends go swimming, fly a kite, bake cookies, tell scary stories, and go sledding down a steep hill. Will the Snail successfully complete his journey to deliver the letter and a smile to Toad?

Kiss Me, Kate (grown-up suggestion!)
Where: Sidney Harman Hall
When: Through January 3
Tickets: $20-118 (look for discount tickets)

It’s “another opening of another show” with Kiss Me, Kate, American musical theatre’s greatest tribute to the Bard. As they try to stage a musical version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, sparks fly on and off stage between Fred Graham, the show’s director and star, and Lilli Vanessi, his leading lady—and ex-wife. Add to the mix passionate young lovers, ingénue Lois Lane and her gambler boyfriend Bill, plus a few musically inclined gangsters’ heavies, and the result is a sharp and witty night with some of Cole Porter’s most immortal tunes. (I saw this recently, and thought it was immensely clever and entertaining!)

Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play!
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Through January 3
Tickets: $20

This adorable production brings many children’s (and adults’!) favorite books to life on stage! In Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play!, a vaudevillian romp of a musical, Elephant Gerald and Piggie sing and dance their way through plenty of pachydermal peril and swiney suspense facing fundamental questions like what do you wear to a fancy pool costume party? Should you share your ice cream? And how can two friends play with one toy? Backed by nutty backup singers, The Squirrelles, our duo even gets the audience involved in the action. So get ready for a musical experience ripped from the pages of your favorite books! Recommended for ages 3 and up.

Millennium Stage
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Ongoing daily, 6pm
Tickets: Free

The Kennedy Center presents these free, no-tickets-required performances every day at 6pm, and the public is welcome to enjoy them. The acts span the genres — you can see everything from contemporary dance to folk music to puppetry to comedy shows to opera scenes. Millennium Stage showcases everyone from local youth choirs to internationally known bands (They Might Be Giants performed there a few years ago). This is a great series to keep in mind for whenever you’re looking for some free, easy entertainment.

Boogie Babes
Where: Angelika Pop-Up, Eastern Market, & The Atlas
When: Wednesdays, Thursdays, & Fridays, 10:30am
Tickets: $5/child, free for siblings 6 months and under

Little ones can boogie along with their favorite local musicians at the Angelika Pop-Up (behind Union Market) on Wednesdays, in Eastern Market’s North Hall every Thursday, AND at The Atlas Performing Arts Center on Fridays. Go for the show, then grab lunch in the Markets or hit one of the many eateries on the H Street Corridor.

Tot Rock
Where: Jammin’ Java
When: Ongoing
Tickets: $5/weekdays, $10/weekends

Tot Rock is Jammin’ Java’s super-popular kids music concert series, providing wholesome family entertainment at one of the DC Metro area’s finest music clubs. Local acts perform every Thursday and Friday, and touring performers drop by on many weekends. Check the calendar often to see when your favorite act is performing, and for other calendar updates.

Tiny Tots
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: Most Saturdays & Sundays at 10am
Tickets: $5

The series presents puppet shows designed for the youngest theater patrons (ages 0-4). They are shorter, the lights stay on, and the doors stay open. They have an arsenal of shows that they switch up every performance, so be sure to check the schedule to see what’s playing when you go.

Saturday Morning at the National
Where: National Theatre
When: Most Saturdays
Tickets: FREE!

The free theatre program runs on select Saturdays with performances at 9:30am and 11:30am. Musicals, plays, storytelling, and comedy shows are all part of the live entertainment line-up. See the complete schedule of performances here. Tickets are distributed day of performances on a first-come, first-served basis. Everyone must be in line to receive a ticket.

Performances for Children
Where: Publick Playhouse
When: Ongoing
Tickets: Vary by show

The Playhouse in Riverdale, MD regularly presents plays, concerts, puppet shows, and more live entertainment for young audiences, often on weekday morning and at lunchtime — perfect activity for little ones and caregivers! Visit the website for the full calendar.

Where: Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
When: Through December 29
Tickets: $10-20

This new adaptation for young audiences follows a marionette’s wild adventures in becoming a real boy. Five actors bring Carlo Collodi’s classic tale to life is a flurry of masks, music and merriment! Our hero is always getting himself in and out of scrapes, running into colorful characters, and trying his best even at his worst. Bring the whole family as the Faction of Fools Theatre Company combines bold theatricality with this fantastical story of foxes, fairies, high-strung puppet-masters and underwater beasts.

Bright Star (grown-up suggestion!)
Where: Kennedy Center
When: December 2 – January 10
Tickets: $45-175 (look for discount tickets)

From Grammy and Emmy winner Steve Martin and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Edie Brickell comes a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and ’40s. (I already have my tickets for this — Steve and Edie’s musical collaborations are so good!)

Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer’s 30th Annual Winter Family Concert
Where: Seekers Church, – 276 Carroll St. NW
When: December 5, 11am & 1pm
Tickets: $12/advance, $15/at door

Join GRAMMY award winning duo Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer for their 30th Annual Winter Family Concert. Master Storyteller and Grammy® winning songwriter Bill Harley will share the show with the dynamic duo. Bring the whole family and get ready for silliness and full out musical fun! Cathy & Marcy are also teaming up with Comfort Cases, a local non-profit that helps foster kids in transition. Bring a cool new pair of pajamas for kids 6-10 and receive a refund for 1 ticket per family to the show.

Seussical the Musical
Where: NextStop Theatre
When: December 4-20
Tickets: $25

Bring the whole family along for this musical spectacular featuring all your favorite Dr. Seuss characters! Oh the thinks you will think when you see the Cat in the Hat’s magical tale of Horton the Elephant on his journey to protect the Whos and guard an abandoned egg. Featuring a cast of young actors in 3rd through 11th grades plus artists from NextStop’s professional company, Seussical will entertain adults and kids of all ages.

Marvel Universe Live
Where: Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore
When: December 10-13
Tickets: $10-15

This live Superhero story is framed around the battle over the Cosmic Cube, the source of ultimate power and one of the most feared and coveted treasures in the Marvel Universe. The Cosmic Cube has been shattered into pieces by the Mighty Thor in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

How to Catch a Leprechan
Where: The Keegan Theatre
When: December 12-27
Tickets: $15 (look for discount tickets)

Based on the familiar Irish folktale, How To Catch a Leprechaun follows the comical adventures of the wistful minstrel Riley O’Really, who really wants to catch a leprechaun. He’s got everything he needs for his trap: a pair of sharp eyes, a good Irish folk song in his heart and, most importantly, an irresistible pitcher of green lemonade. The wee leprechaun who Riley catches seems more than willing to give up his pot of gold – but is his offer a leprechaun trick or a leprechaun treat? Recommended for ages 3 and up.

Wheaton Family Theatre Series
Where: Wheaton Public Library
When: Select Saturdays
Tickets: FREE!

Wheaton-based educational theatre company InterAct Story Theatre is launching the new Wheaton Family Theatre Series this fall! The first season of the series, running from October 2015 through February 2016, features five performances and includes children’s theatre, storytelling, world music, and family literacy programs. Each program is followed by a post-performance arts and literacy workshop for kids and families.

Matilda the Musical
Where: Kennedy Center
When: December 15 – January 10
Tickets: $30-204

Based on the beloved novel by Roald Dahl, Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

Wake Up, Brother Bear
Where: Imagination Stage
When: December 19 – January 31
Tickets: $14

This audience-favorite show is back from hibernation! Watch as Brother and Sister Bear experience a full year of glorious seasons. Together we see a waterfall melt, meet a butterfly, chase an elusive fish, and skate on an icy pond. Children are invited to join the action with a small bag of props that help create magical moments. Best for ages 1-5.

Harlem Globetrotters
Where: Royal Farm Arena in Baltimore
When: December 26
Tickets: $23 and up

The iconic Harlem Globetrotters are coming to the Verizon Center in Washington, DC with their unrivaled family show, featuring some of the greatest athletes on the planet. With incredible ball handling wizardry, amazing rim-rattling dunks and trick shots, side-splitting comedy and unequaled on-court fan interaction, this must-see event is guaranteed to entertain the whole family creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Snow White
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre
When: January 8-17
Tickets: $15/adult, $10/child

Encore Stage & Studio theatre by kids for kids brings a fairytale classic to the stage. Snow White is a young princess who lives with her jealous evil step mother, the Queen. When the Queen discovers that Snow White is the fairest of them all, the Queen devises a plan to continue her reign permanently. After being banished in the woods, Snow White happens upon seven new friends that give her a place to call home. The Queen disguises herself and brings a poisoned apple to Snow White. Will the Queen stop there? Find out in this musical adaptation of a bedtime classic. Recommended for ages 4 and older.

NSO Kinderclassics: Break it Down
Where: Kennedy Center
When: January 9
Tickets: $20

If you love to tinker, you won’t want to miss this high-energy concert, where they delight in dissecting the pieces and parts of music and instruments! Go early for the Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.” Starting one hour before each Kinderclassic, this hands-on activity in theHall of States gives children a chance to get up close with the instruments they’ll see played on stage, from violins and trumpets to oboes and flutes.

Planet Hopping
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: January 14-15
Tickets: $3-6

Puppetry duo Belle et Bête and kindie rock powerhouse Lunch Money are your intergalactic guides for a one-of-a-kind adventure in space science. Original music, puppets, and elaborate video projections featuring real NASA footage help tell the tale of a young pilot and her robot sidekick as they travel the solar system. Soar among the stars as you explore the mysteries of the planets and the importance of friendship and family. Recommended for ages 3-7.

A Wrinkle in Time
Where: Alden Theatre
When: January 16
Tickets: $15 ($10 for MCC district residents)

On a dark and stormy night, the eccentric Mrs. Whatsit arrives at the home of Meg Murray, a tomboy who doesn’t fit in at her high school. Meg’s scientist father vanished over two years ago, under mysterious circumstances. Aided by Mrs. Whatsit and her friends, Meg and her gifted brother Charles Wallace are transported through time and space on a mission to rescue their father from the frightening forces that hold him prisoner on another planet. John Glore’s delightful, wildly theatrical adaptation brings this acclaimed story magically to life. Recommended for ages 7 and up.

Step Afrika! Step Xplosion
Where: Strathmore
When: January 17
Tickets: $25-40

Step up and enjoy the rhythm and artistry of Step Afrika! The percussive dance troupe puts on an electrifying show that unites music, dance, and storytelling to put forward an often overlooked aspect of American history.

Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: January 21 – 24
Tickets: $9

What is marmalade? Can it be cherry, figs, mint, upside down, together or inside out? Marmalade is a delicious, sensory performance about meeting, mixing and blending. Mira and Viktor taste and feel in poetic movements and circus actions in an exquisite and visual experience where the audience is invited to join in the experience. Marmalade looks at the world through body, eye, feeling and taste in a room with fluffy skirts, soft circus and Fellini music. Perfect for ages 2-6.

Where: The Puppet Co.
When: January 21 – February 21
Tickets: $10

A life-size marionette version of Carlo Collodi’s classic children’s tale, created in the 1960s by the father of the Puppet Co.’s co-founder, Christopher Piper. This production has been completely refurbished and adapted for the Puppet Co. stage. Performed in Hollywood and Hawaii, critics hailed the production as “A Masterpiece!” and raved, “The underwater ballet alone is worth the price of admission!” Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Succotash Tales
Where: Discovery Theater, Ripley Center
When: January 27-28
Tickets: $3-6

With her captivating voice and dancing hands, master storyteller Diane Macklin draws inspiration from the heritage of West African storytelling. From trickster tales to fables of friendship, her delightful performances celebrate the richness of traditions and folklore. Recommended for ages 5-10.

OLIVÉRio: A Brazilian Twist
Where: Kennedy Center
When: January 30 – February 21
Tickets: $20

A spunky girl on the streets of Rio masquerades as a boy to look for her mother, only to discover a new kind of family, in this world premiere musical inspired by Charles Dickens’s classic novel and featuring original songs and music. Recommended for ages 9 and up.

Jack and Phil, Giant-Slayers, INC.
Where: Imagination Stage
When: February 3 – March 13
Tickets: $12-30

In this contemporary, tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the classic fairy tale, Jack is a sporty, popular kid whose mother is facing foreclosure on their house. Jack enlists Phil, his smart yet nerdy neighbor, to accompany him to a pawnbroker to trade in his Grandfather’s gold watch for quick cash. Instead, the boys are paid in magic beans, and soon enough, a beanstalk grows tall with golden eggs, a harp, and a Giant’s home waiting at the top! After discovering the treasures, Jack becomes an overnight TV sensation, but his failure to acknowledge Phil’s help threatens the boys’ friendship, and very nearly leads to disaster when the Giant decides to come down from the beanstalk. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Disney on Ice: Treasure Trove
Where: Verizon Center
When: February 10-15
Tickets: $15 and up

Get tangled up in Disney’s 50th animated feature with Rapunzel and Flynn and enter the worlds of your favorite Disney princesses; set sail on an adventure beyond Never Land; trek the wilds of Africa with Simba and friends as they discover the true meaning of the ‘Circle of Life.’ And don’t be late to a very important date with Alice & the Mad Hatter. It’s a show full of Disney treasures to remember.

James and the Giant Peach
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: February 12 – April 4
Tickets: $19.50

When James is sent by his conniving aunts to chop down their old fruit tree, he discovers a magic potion which results in a tremendous peach – and launches a journey of enormous proportions. Featuring a wickedly tuneful score by the TONY Award-nominated team of Pasek and Paul and a curiously quirky book by Timothy Allen McDonald.

Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage
Where: Warner Theatre
When: February 13
Tickets: $42 and up

Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage brings 50 years of Star Trek to concert halls for the first time ever. This lavish production includes an impressive live symphony orchestra and international special solo instruments. Experience the franchise’s groundbreaking and wildly popular musical achievements while the most iconic Star Trek film and TV footage is simultaneously beamed in high definition to a 40-foot wide screen.

The Uncle Devin Show
Where: Discovery Theater, Ripley Center
When: February 18-19
Tickets: $3-6

Are you ready to make some noise? Everybody’s favorite musical uncle returns and invites young audiences to hear and play a world of percussion instruments in this show. Through all the bang-up interactive fun, kids also learn why percussion is the easiest, oldest, and most diverse form of musical creativity. Recommended for ages 2-6.

Mary Poppins
Where: CenterStage at the Reston Community Center
When: February 19 – March 12
Tickets: $25/adult, $20/student

Look who’s flying in to the CenterStage! You won’t need a Spoonful of Sugar when Mary Poppins arrives! Lovable chimney-sweep, Bert, introduces us to the troubled Banks family in 1910. Young Jane and Michael have sent many a nanny packing before the Practically-Perfect Mary Poppins teaches the children how to value each other again with a little common sense and their magical adventures! Even grown-ups can learn a lesson or two from the nanny who advises that Anything Can Happen If You Let It. Mary Poppins is an enchanting mixture of irresistible story, unforgettable songs, breathtaking dance numbers, and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious stagecraft!

Beauty and the Beast
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: February 25 – April 10
Tickets: $10

A romantic tale of a handsome prince, and his love, Beauty, set in a great forest in old Russia. There are curses, conflicts, hopes, wishes, dreams, and exciting adventures, all the things that make a happy ending that much sweeter. Imaginative settings and beautiful costumes support this large-scale marionette version of the classic love story. Winner of a Citation of Excellence from the American Center of the Union Internationale de la Marionette, it has played successfully to children and families nationwide. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: February 26 – March 6
Tickets: Vary by performance

Kicking off the Atlas Performing Arts Center 10th Anniversary, the Atlas Intersections Festival 2016 brings the best of DC arts and artists to the stage and H Street with performances, experiences and happenings in theatre, dance, music, vocal, choral, opera, visual arts, video, film, writing, sculpture, photography, circus, spoken word, public art, community art, and art space activation. And this includes entertainment that all ages will enjoy. See the schedule for details.

Monster Jam
Where: Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore
When: February 26
Tickets: Start at $20/adult, $10/child

The world’s largest and most famous monster truck tour featuring the biggest names in monster trucks will thunder its way into Baltimore. Grave Digger, Max-D, Monster Mutt Dalmatian, Scooby-Doo, Zombie, El Toro Loco, NEA, and Monster Mutt Rottweiler are among the vehicular beasts you’ll see tearing up the indoor terrain this year.

Treasure Island
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre
When: February 27 – March 6
Tickets: $15/adult, $10/child

What starts as a mystery turns into an adventure in an Encore adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel. Young Jim Hawkins leaves a dull life to search for where “X” marks the spot on a treasure map left behind by an old sea captain. Jim meets a slew of thrill seeking sea farers as he hopes to find the treasure before any pirates do. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

The Laurie Berkner Band
Where: Lincoln Theatre
When: February 28

The Laurie Berkner Band was Owen’s first concert when he was about two years old, and the show was just as fun as her catchy songs. A legend in the kiddie rock world, she’s bringing the good time to the U Street venue, and it’s bound to sell out, so get your tickets soon!

NSO Family Concert: Let’s Remix the Classix!
Where: Kennedy Center
When: February 28
Tickets: $15-18

What would the classics sound like with a hip-hop beat? Join Grammy-nominated beatboxer and multi-instrumentalist Christylez Bacon and electric cellist/composer Wytold for a crash course in the fundamentals of remixing! Go early for a Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo,” when young concertgoers can get up close and hands-on with the instruments they’ll see played on the stage. Stay after for Kids’ Chat to ask question and hear stories from the concert artists.

Space Bop
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: March 5-12
Tickets: $9

Journey to the musical cosmos in Arts on the Horizon’s world-premiere piece for babies and toddlers, Space-Bop! Drawing on a little one’s early love of light and vocal play, Space-Bop takes place under the starry sky and features a GRAMMY®-nominated hip-hop artist and beatboxer, a Chaplinesque hero, and the endearing denizens of outer space, like a pinwheel comet and a glowing star. In Arts on the Horizon’s signature multi-sensory, nonverbal style, Space-Bop invites our youngest audience to look up at the stars, have a giggle, and dream along with the hip-hop beat. Best for ages 0-2 and their families.

Boxes, Boxes, Boxes!
Where: Imagination Stage
When: March 8 – April 10, 2016
Tickets: $14

Originally Written and Directed by Natasha Holmes, Tell Tale Hearts Company, UK
Two friends use their imaginations to build bridges, birds, a train, a plane, and even a castle from cardboard boxes. Jump inside the world of a child’s imagination! Performances are followed by a “free play” session, allowing the audience to build their own creations, using props from the show!

Josh and the Jamtones: Jammin’ at the Smithsonian
Where: Discovery Theater, Ripley Center
When: March 10-11
Tickets: $3-6

This Boston-based trio serves up a full-of-fun show that’s jam-packed with energy. You’re guaranteed to be dancing and singing along as they blend roots/reggae/ska stylings, feel-good pop, folk punk, country ballads, New Orleans-style street music, and family-friendly improv comedy into a sensational ball of kids’-music awesomeness!

NSO Teddy Bear Concert: The String Thing
Where: Kennedy Center
When: March 12-13
Tickets: $15-18

Ladies and gents, tots and teddy bears, step right up to this daring double act of classical fun! Bassist Paul DeNola and violinist Heather LeDoux Green take a break from the NSO to introduce young audiences to some of the greatest music ever written. Go early for “Musical Playtime.” Starting 45 minutes before each Teddy Bear Concert, enjoy music and movement activities especially designed for small children.

Harlem Globetrotters
Where: Verizon Center & Eagle Bank Arena
When: March 18-20
Tickets: $23 and up

The iconic Harlem Globetrotters are coming to the Verizon Center in Washington, DC with their unrivaled family show, featuring some of the greatest athletes on the planet. With incredible ball handling wizardry, amazing rim-rattling dunks and trick shots, side-splitting comedy and unequaled on-court fan interaction, this must-see event is guaranteed to entertain the whole family creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Where: National Theatre
When: March 15-20
Tickets: $48-93

The world’s best-loved musical returns in time-honored form. Directed by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin and choreographed by Liza Gennaro, this production of ANNIE will be a brand new incarnation of the iconic original. Featuring book and score by Tony Award®-winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, ANNIE includes such unforgettable songs as “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” plus the eternal anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”

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