New York City is the theater capital of the world, but taking your kids to a show may seem daunting—between the silence requirement and complex plotlines. Lucky for you, NYC is a place where many Broadway-like theaters cater directly to your little one. We’ve compiled a list of every kid-friendly theaters, plays and dance performances that your family will actually enjoy attending.
13th Street Repertory
This theater offers many exciting shows for kids ages three and up. From well-known fairytales to interactive shows, there’s something for everyone. You can even have a birthday party or take acting classes! 13thstreetrep.org
Children’s Theatre Company
Kids take center stage at this company where all shows include child performers. The goal is to show children that they can be the voice of positive change. childrenstheatrecompany.org
For more than 25 years, the Galli Theater has been bringing fairytales to life for children of all ages. Actors encourage the audience to interact and get on stage. For multi-lingual families, plays are offered in English, French and German. gallitheaterny.com
Literally Alive Children’s Theatre
Literally Alive takes children’s books and turns them into original musicals. Get there an hour early for the pre-show arts workshop that helps children understand theater better. literallyalive.com
Manhattan Children’s Theatre
This theater produces adaptations of both classical and contemporary books. The shows are for all ages, but the Little Tales series are specifically for pre-school aged children. mctny.org
Making Books Sing
This theater is all about education using music, puppetry and physical comedy. Catch the summer production of “If Your Really Love Polar Bears…,” a show about a young boy who’s obsessed with polar bears and learns through a magic journey how his lifestyle affects animal habitats. makingbookssing.org
The New Victory Theater
This theater selects programs that help educate and inspire the audience. They put on shows for children as young as two, but check the website often because each production has its own ideal age range. newvictory.org
The Paper Bag Players
The Paper Bag Players perform original musicals geared for children ages 4 through 9, based on a child’s everyday life. thepaperbagplayers.org
These puppet adaptations of children’s favorite tales are whimsical, fun and fascinating for children ages three and up. This summer, they’ve turned The Three Wishes, The Ugly Duckling and The Three Little Pigs into a single show. puppetworks.org
Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre
This puppet theater produces fairytales for children ages 3 through 9. Catch this summer’s performance of “Little Miss Muffet’s Monster-Sitting Service,” the story of what happens when Molly Muffet starts a babysitting service with an old friend. cityparksfoundation.org/arts/swedish-cottage-marionette-theatre
TADA! Youth Theater
These shows are performed by kids for family audiences. You can get your own children involved or simply enjoy the show as a fam. Their next production, “Everything About School (Almost),” is about how friendships and memories are made (July 12-August 4, 2012). tadatheater.com
Tribeca Performing Arts Center & TheatreWorks USA
Tribeca Performing Arts Center offers an array of performances geared toward children and families all year round. From puppets to plays, there’s something for everyone. Plus, many of the family shows at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts are Theatreworks productions. tribecapac.org; theatreworksusa.org
Vital Children’s Theatre
Vital Children’s Theater puts on engaging hour-long performances for children ages 2 through 10. The company also has weekly summer camps for kids ages 4 through 6. vitaltheatre.org
BROADWAY AND OFF-BROADWAY THEATER
The Berenstain Bears LIVE!
The classic children’s series comes to life in “The Berenstain Bears LIVE! Family Matters: The Musical.” No matter what this bear family goes through, they’re in it together. This show is all about laughs, songs and the importance of family. broadway.com/shows/berenstain-bears-live-family-matters-musical
Blue Man Group
This literally blue trio combines theater, art and technology into a fascinatingly original performance that’s hard to describe. It’s recommended for ages 8 and up, and no one under the age of 5 is allowed into the theater. blueman.com/tickets/new-york
Gazillion Bubble Show
This interactive show for all ages combines lasers, lights and bubbles of all shapes and sizes. Audience members can even take a picture in a bubble before and after the show. gazillionbubbleshow.com
The Lion King
The Disney movie has been a Broadway hit since it opened. Between the elaborate costumes, colorful makeup, comedy and heart-warming story, people of all ages will find something to love about “The Lion King.” broadway.com/shows/the-lion-king
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
This adaptation of this C.S. Lewis book takes the audience to magical Narnia, where it’s always winter but never Christmas thanks to a spell cast on the land. The show runs for 45 minutes and is recommended for ages 5 and up. narniaoffbroadway.com
“Mamma Mia!” centers on a bride-to-be searching for her dad so he can walk her down the aisle. Set to the tune of ABBA’s greatest hits, this high-energy show will have everyone trying to resist the urge to jump up and dance. ppc.broadway.com/shows/mamma-mia
This famous nanny lights up the stage with the classic story and songs from the original movie. Poppins takes the children on a magical adventure to teach them, and the audience, a thing or two about life. broadway.com/shows/mary-poppins
Newsies The Musical
Based on the Disney movie and the actual newsboy strike, this show focuses on a group of newsboys who fight back at Pulitzer and Hearst’s newspaper price hike. Good for the whole family, it has fast music, intense choreography and even a romantic plotline. broadway.com/shows/newsies
Peter and the Starcatcher
Go to Neverland in this back-story of Peter Pan and Captain Hook. With humor, the occasional song and only a few props, the show aims to stretch the audience’s imagination and is great for all ages. broadway.com/shows/peter-and-starcatcher
The Phantom of the Opera
Broadway’s longest running show, based on the horror novel in which a deformed composer haunts an opera house, still delivers romance, fear and excitement night after night. broadway.com/shows/the-phantom-of-the-opera
The Radio City Christmas Spectacular
The holiday staple is celebrating 85 years of the Rockettes, so this season’s performances are going to be unforgettable. Fun for all ages (children under 2 don’t need a ticket), this show is sure to put even the grouchiest of Grinches in the holiday spirit. Get your tickets now for the best seats! radiocitychristmas.com
“Sister Act” is the story of an aspiring singer who ends up hiding in a convent. While she may not fit in with the nuns at first, she finds her way with the church’s choir. This family-friendly musical, based on the movie, has upbeat songs and a positive message. broadway.com/shows/sister-act
Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark
With intense aerial stunts, projections and a score penned by U2 musicians Bono and The Edge, this show is great for energetic fams. Just keep in mind that younger children might be scared by the evil villains. broadway.com/shows/spider-man-turn-off-the-dark
This eight-person ensemble creates music with every day items; no real instruments allowed. It’s all about dance, rhythm and creativity. All children over the age of 5 will enjoy it. broadway.com/shows/stomp
Set just before World War I, this dramatic play about the relationship between a teenager and his horse is meant to tug on the audience’s heartstrings. Although based on a children’s novel, it’s recommended for ages 12 and up. broadway.com/shows/war-horse
The untold story of the Wizard of Oz, this popular show focuses on the history of the Wicked Witch of the West. Highly theatrical with stunning sets and elaborate costumes, this play is ideal for ages eight and up. broadway.com/shows/wicked
MUSIC, DANCE AND LIVE PERFORMANCE
Big Apple Circus
You and your kids will be dazzled by the acts and animals that come together under the big tent during the Big Apple Circus. The show rotates through Queens, Rhode Island and Lake George, NY. bigapplecircus.org
The iconic theater brings world-renowned musicians to perform in their three halls throughout the year. The Family Concert Series on weekends is interactive and educational, with free pre-concert activities before each show. carnegiehall.org
DiCapo Opera Theatre
This opera house is continuing its Opera for Kids series on Saturday and Sunday mornings in the fall and into 2013. The shows are one-hour versions of operas, performed in English, and the director helps explain the plot and the genre of opera. dicapo.com
Jazz at Lincoln Center
Children are welcome at all shows, but families might want to look to the interactive Jazz for Young People Concerts series to introduce their young ones to the rhythms and history of the jazz. jalc.org
The iconic theater offers every type of arts event under the sun. There are ballets, exhibits and plays for your whole family to enjoy. lc.lincolncenter.org
Little Orchestra Society
This company is devoted to putting on family-friendly shows. Ages 3 to 5 should check out the “Lolli-Pops” shows, where they can learn about music while hanging out with characters like Buzz the Bee. For ages 6 to 12, look into the “Happy Concerts” series. littleorchestra.org
The Metropolitan Opera
This holiday presentation of “The Barber of Seville” features slapstick comedy and pure romance. Rossini’s masterpiece is abridged and sung in English at the Metropolitan Opera, making it ideal entertainment for kids and adults. metoperafamily.org
New York Theatre Ballet
Specifically for kids, the New York Theatre Ballet offers “Once Upon A Ballet”—engaging hour-long performances that won’t break the bank. Children can see some of their favorite stories, like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, come to life on stage. nytb.org
Symphony Space’s Just Kidding series is just for families. Children will love the book readings, concerts and plays this company puts on. symphonyspace.org
The Theater at Madison Square Garden
The biggest names in pop culture come to perform at MSG. Check the website early and often to make sure you don’t miss out when your family’s favorite acts come to town! theateratmsg.com
For tips on shows to see with your kids, visit our Family Calendar.
BIG TIP: Family Memberships & Ticket Deals
New Yorkers will often buy season tickets to their favorite venues so that they can enjoy theater and live performance night after night. In the same spirit, many children’s theaters offer family memberships to give parents and their children discounted ticket prices. So many venues across the city offer these deals. Here are a few to get you started.
All Making Books Sing members get access to pre-sales and discounts, along with other bonuses depending on the membership level.
Season tickets to Manhattan Children’s Theatre range from $54 for three shows to $68 for four shows to $80 for five shows.
Buy tickets to three shows at the New Victory Theater and automatically become a member and save up to 35 percent!
New York Theatre Ballet allows you to purchase a three or four show ticket package for any of their series. Prices range from $72 to $125.
You’ll get deep discounts and the best seats in the house by subscribing to Symphony Space for any of their three performance series.
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