Do you remember the first time you saw your first Broadway or Broadway-style national tour? Remember the excitement of getting your first Playbill, seeing the lights go down, and watching live people on stage instead of looking at a movie screen? Whether it’s at age six or sixteen, few things can match the magic of attending a live performance. And if you’re an adult who grew up loving live theater, chances are you’re eager to pass that love on to the next generation.
But even for people with big bank accounts, a Broadway show can be an expensive outing. Even if your toddler’s butt never touches their seat and you have them on your lap from the overture to curtain call, they’re still going to need a ticket. You want to make sure that you’re getting the best bang for your buck. More importantly, you want to make sure that the kids you take with you to the theater have an unforgettable time.
The first step in having a successful Broadway outing with kids is picking the right show for them to suit their age, attention span, maturity level, and interests. Sweeney Todd might be a great show to take a teen to, but do you really want your six-year-old to see an evening of throat-slashing? In the same vein (pun intended), while some kids might love a dance-heavy show, others might be bored with the absence of dialogue. Know your kids before you buy the tickets.
To help you pick the right show for your kids, we’ve put together a list of family-friendly shows currently playing on Broadway and Off-Broadway. We split the list up into three categories: training wheels theater for very little ones, shows for kids six and older, and smarter shows for tweens and up.
Theater for the very little ones
These shows are terrific introductions not only to live theater but the whole experience that goes along with it. These shows are a great way to teach kids how to behave in a theater while watching entertainment that doesn’t exclusively involve a screen.
The Gazillion Bubble Show
Mind-blowing bubble magic, spectacular laser lighting effects, and momentary soapy masterpieces make this an unbubblievable experience.
Shows for kids six and up
While a lot of people feel that they can bring their toddler to Disney’s shows on Broadway, Mickey Mouse himself recommends that parents wait until their kids have better-formed attention spans and can handle a full-length show with some potentially scary situations.
The Lion King
When the life-sized elephant puppets walk down the aisle during the opening, you’ll have a hard time knowing whether to watch the show on stage or your kids’ reaction.
Colorful sets and costumes, catchy songs from the popular animated movie, the magical genie, and a flying carpet will open a whole new world for your little new theatergoer.
The Play That Goes Wrong
An unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines) will keep your kids laughing all night and wanting more.
Blue Man Group
Kids who like the unusual will love watching three bald blue men as they drum in paint, create music out of PVC pipes, and redefine entertainment.
Smart shows for tweens and up
Once your younger kids are hooked on live theater, they’ll eventually want a little more from the experience. While the following shows are all family-friendly, they’re a little longer and have more complex situations.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Experience the wizarding world like you’ve never seen it before in a mind-blowing continuation of the popular novels. Fans of the series will love it, but at three hours long, it’s not for the faint of bladder.
Are all bad reputations earned? What happened before Dorothy landed in Oz and met the Wizard? Find out in this musical backstory of the beloved film.
Little Shop of Horrors
What would you do if the only thing standing between you and everything you wished for was a giant man-eating singing plant?
Back to the Future: The Musical
The hit 1980s movie is live on stage with time travel, lightning, and a flying car! A guaranteed hit for both kids and Gen Xers.