News & Politics

Mo Willems’s “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” Will Be a Musical at the Kennedy Center This November

The world-premiere show is part of the author's two-year residency

Photo by Tracey Salazar

Mo Willems brings a touch of silliness to everything he does, no matter where he goes. Though he’s usually based in Massachusetts, the beloved children’s author and illustrator has now arrived in DC, where he’ll be spending time over the next two years as the Kennedy Center’s first education artist-in-residence. 

As anyone who’s had kids in the 2000s is extremely aware, Willems is the mastermind behind the blockbuster Pigeon series, Knuffle Bunny, and Elephant & Piggie, as well as a former writer and animator for Sesame Street. At the Kennedy Center, he will have plenty of events on his schedule, including two world premieres: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical), which runs from November 23 through January 5, and Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (a Symphonic Spectacular), which premieres in April 2020. Can’t wait that long? Willems will also be involved with the REACH’s opening festival, which starts September 7. During the festival, Willems will host MO-a-PALOOZA LIVE!, where guests can jam to songs from his previous musicals and be among the first to preview tracks from his upcoming premieres.

Fans of Willems can also look forward to other cross-platform programming and shows that will incorporate theater, dance, comedy, digital experiences, and multiple genres of music. Some of the upcoming programs will engage audiences directly, emphasizing hands-on participation that allows them to let loose. Willems has said that he’s trying to play in as many sandboxes as possible, so expect some experimentation. But for many kids, the biggest question will be whether he can find time to write more books while he’s doing all of this. We’re not sure, but if his next one is called Don’t Let the Pigeon Direct a Musical Theater Production!, now you’ll know why.


Aly Prouty
Editorial Fellow

Aly Prouty joined Washingtonian in September 2019. Her work has been featured in Taste of Home, Milwaukee Magazine, Girls’ Life, and more. She graduated from Marquette University and lives in Northern Virginia.