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Family Theater

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Unveiled on December 9, 2005, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' new 324-seat Family Theater provides a new home for world-class family theater performances for the nation's youth and continues the Kennedy Center's $125 million commitment to performing arts education for adults and children alike.

"This new venue" said Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center, "expands the Kennedy Center's ability to produce and present excellent works for young people." The inauguration of the Kennedy Center's state of the art 324-seat Family Theater facility coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Kennedy Center's youth oriented Performances for Young Audiences series.

Designed by the architectural firm Richter Cornbrooks Gribble, Inc. of Baltimore, the new theater is located on the site formerly occupied by the AFI Film Theater. Its construction spanned 11 months, and incorporates the most modern theatrical innovations available, including: premium audio technologies; a computerized rigging system; and a digital video projection system.

photo of family theater seating photo of family theater foyer

Family Theater Seating Chart

[Family Theater Seating Chart]

Now performing in the Family Theater :

Image for Performances for Young Audiences: <i>The Gift of Nothing</i>

Performances for Young Audiences: The Gift of Nothing


A world premiere Kennedy Center commission
based on the New York Times bestselling book by Patrick McDonnell
The Gift of Nothing
Adapted by Patrick McDonnell, Aaron Posner, and Erin Weaver
Music and lyrics by Andy Mitton
Associate direction (movement) by Erika Chong Shuch
Directed by Aaron Posner
Featuring Michael John Casey, Maggie Donnelly, Sakile Lyles, Joseph O'Malley, Nickolas Vaughan, and Rachel Zampelli

"The perfect outing for families with young children hoping to see a meaningful show this holiday season"
--Broadway World
"Destined to delight many a young viewer"
--DC Theatre Scene
"A fanciful, family-friendly musical that has a little bit of everything for everyone"
--DC Metro Theatre Arts

Today is a very, very merry special day! Mooch, a charming and curious cat, wants to get the purr-fect holiday gift for his best friend Earl, a loveable pup. But Earl already seems to have all he needs: a bowl, a bed, and a squeaky chew toy. So what do you get someone who has everything? Well, nothing, of course! Based on characters in the beloved internationally syndicated comic strip MUTTS, this world premiere musical adaptation of Patrick McDonnell's The Gift of Nothing follows Mooch's frantic and hilarious search to find Earl absolutely nothing--which always turns out to be something! Join the delightful duo, along with their owners Millie and Ozzie, cantankerous Frank, adorable Doozy, and an onstage pianist for this festive and heartwarming adventure.

For age 4 and up. 

Performance Timing: 60 minutes, with no intermission.

Note: Patrick McDonnell will sign programs and books in the lobby outside the Family Theater following the 1:30 p.m. performances on Saturday, Nov. 22 and Sunday, Nov. 23.


Note: The 11 a.m. performance on Sat., December 27 is Sensory-Friendly.

Sensory-Friendly Performances
are designed to create a theater experience that is welcoming to all families with children on the autism spectrum or with other disabilities that create sensory sensitivities.

Accommodations for Sensory-Friendly performances include:
* Lower volume and consistent sound levels (no jarring sounds);
* Lights remaining at a low level in the theater during the performance;
* A reduction of strobe lighting focused on the audience;
* An understanding that patrons are free to talk and leave their seats during the performance;
* Short performance times, lasting 60-75 minutes with no intermission;
* Designated quiet areas within the theater;
* Space throughout the theater for standing and movement;
* Smaller crowds and a limited number of visitors at the Kennedy Center during the day and timing of the performance; and
* Trained Kennedy Center staff members who are inviting and accommodating to families' needs.

Families will also have access to resource materials to prepare for their visit. Please contact the Accessibility Office at 202-416-8727 (voice/relay) or for more information.