If there's another place on Earth where you can see a different live performance 364 nights a year for free, we haven't heard of it. The Kennedy Center wanted to open its doors to new audiences -- and new talent -- and succeeded beyond anyone's expectations with the Millennium Stage, where artists of all backgrounds and talents showcase their creative energy on a specially built platform in the Grand Foyer.
The stage lights up nightly at 6 and offers entertainment for patrons waiting for the opera or "Shear Madness," tourists passing through and folks who traveled to Foggy Bottom especially to take advantage of the hour-long show. On any given month there's a mix of classical music, jazz, storytelling, song and dance. Audience members might even catch Leonard Slatkin conducting a small ensemble from the National Symphony Orchestra, or jazz master Billy Taylor with his trio. Some months feature themes such as "Music in the Movies."
As a perk of office, members of Congress can nominate performers from their state to perform on the stage. You, too, can add the Kennedy Center to your resume: Local auditions are held one weekend a year in the spring. Don't be shy -- classical guitar, a cappella tunes, harmonica, folk songs and fiddles, anything goes.
-- Nicole Lewis