A virtual treasure trove of world-class family entertainment can be found just an hour’s drive from the Fredericksburg area at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. While most families are aware of the Kennedy Center, many may not be aware that free performances are offered every day of the year on its Millennium Stage. Since it was launched in 1997, the Millennium Stage has presented 26,000 performers from all 50 states and 40 different countries to audiences of nearly 2 million people.
“The Kennedy Center is a warm, joyful, and inviting place to experience live entertainment,” said spokesperson Donna Cutro. “Children whose families have a tradition of participating in the arts can develop a lifetime appreciation.”
This month’s array of productions is representative of the caliber and breadth of the offerings on the Millennium Stage. August’s scheduled performances range from musicians from Timbuktu, folk singers from Colombia, and dance educators from India to oldtime cloggers and young instrumentalists and dramatists.
A special monthly feature is the Target Family Night which will feature Tim Kubart and the Space Cadets joy-filled celebration of the family next Sunday. Inspired by their own memories of growing up, the songs composed by Kubart and his fellow songwriter Matt Puckett feature familiar and iconic childhood experiences and special moments that kids share with their parents—all with an “indie” flair.
The group’s most recent album, “Home,” garnered a Grammy Award this year with its celebration of “the small moments, the ones that matters most.” An earlier album, “Anthems for Adventure,” features numbers that will bring a smile and a sparkle of relatability with songs such as “Superhero” (about the transforming power of make-believe and dressing-up),” “2nd Grade Show” (in which a little boy has his time to shine onstage—as a tree in the school play), and “Rainy Days” (when, with a tad of imagination, indoor play can include a venture on a pirate ship).
Kubart exudes the sense of joy and wonder of childhood in performances ranging from hundreds of birthday parties to his role as a co-host (with Chica the Chicken) on Sprout’s “Sunny Side Up” live TV show for preschoolers.
“I love being thrown into all kinds of situations and figuring out how best to perform. I learned how to do what I do by playing kids’ birthday parties and I will keep doing that,” said Kubart. “Every kid who has ever watched my show has shaped what I do. I understand how the things I do and the songs I play has affected kids and families, and I have learned from what they give back to me.”
Though he has an international following and has toured abroad, Kubart maintains a sense of freshness and humility.
“I want to make it about the kids and families who are there. I am not a rock star playing my guitar: I’m there so kids have a good time,” he said, “Parents go to children’s shows with their kids so they can see them having a good time and have a good time with them.”
On Sunday, the Space Cadets will be accompanied by Kubart’s tap-dancing sidekick, Jumpsuit Alex (Alex MacDonald). MacDonald, who was Kubart’s best friend growing up, shares a sense of humility and celebration of life. A Fulbright scholar who has traveled the world as a tap dancer, choreographer and teacher, he joyfully dances his way out into the young audience to interact with them.
“There is nothing like the experience of a live performance—seeing people doing things in the moment and being with a community of people sharing that experience,” said Kubart. “It’s a bonding experience for parents and kids to share that together, and it can be a treasured family memory.”