If you’re looking for a Broadway show to take your teenager to this season, there is a wide variety of options besides “Hamilton,” which remains the toughest ticket in town. From musicals about relevant social issues to an epic pop opera to more serious shows that revolve around gender equality issues to classic works of literature, there has not been a season quite like this for some time. Even the most jaded and cynical teenager will find a play to get excited about.
Here’s a list of ten shows we enjoyed that will reflect your teenager’s interests and our reasons why we picked them.
1. “Dear Evan Hansen” at the Music Box Theatre
“Dear Evan Hansen” is a show your socially conscious teen will find very relatable, as its plot revolves around technology, social media, and bullying. It’s very much about the challenges of being a teenager, and the creators very skillfully tell their story through song and music in a powerful way. As timely and current the show is, the actors are equally as compelling. Ben Platt brings the character of Evan Hansen to life in this Broadway production, and the rest of the cast is equally sublime. With a score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who also happened to write the lyrics for “La La Land,” and musical direction by Alex Lacamoire from “Hamilton,” this show’s music will become your teen’s next download. dearevanhansen.com
2. “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” at the Imperial Theatre
For the Russian history buff teen, “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” is a pop opera of epic proportion. Inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, it’s an immersive experience that integrates the audience into the story. The ensemble of 22 actors use the entire Imperial Theater for their performance, which is decorated with red velvet drapery and 19th century Russian paintings, to take the audience back in time to tell a story of Russian aristocrats and a tragic romance. It also offers dazzling songs and an extraordinary cast, including Josh Groban , who appears in it until July, as well as breakout actress Denée Benton. greatcometbroadway.com
3. “Present Laughter” at St. James Theatre
There are so many reasons to take your comedy-obsessed teen to see “Present Laughter” at the St. James Theater. For one thing, it was written by the famous playwright Noel Coward in 1939 about an actor living in London who juggles affairs and daily interruptions, and it’s very, very funny. Secondly, Kevin Kline plays the lead character and he brings all his charm and deadpan acting to the role. It’s a real British farce and a good introduction for teens who have yet to experience this kind of slapstick dialogue. Teens will recognize several other cast members including Cobie Smulders from “How I Met Your Mother” and Kate Burton from “Grey’s Anatomy.” laughteronbroadway.com
4. “The Little Foxes” at the Samuel Friedman Theatre
For feminist teens interested in history and feminism, Lillian Hellman’s”The Little Foxes” is a great choice. It’s a play by a woman, about women, and the two female leads alternate the two lead roles. The two actresses are Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon and they are two of the best stage actresses around. The plot revolves around a fiercely strong Southern woman who struggles for wealth and freedom within the confines of an early 20th-Century society where fathers considered only sons as their legal heirs. The rest of the ensemble is impressive as is the period set and costumes. littlefoxesbroadway.com
5. “School of Rock” at the Winter Garden Theatre
“School of Rock” is a play for budding musicians and music lovers. It was based on the Richard Linklater film starring Jack Black and adapted by “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes. The show is a faithful adaptation with songs composed by the iconic Andrew Lloyd Webber. The result is typical Webber, with grand, memorable songs and dancing. Throw in themes all teens will relate to such as parental relationships, a desire to assert a teen’s independence and bouts of peer pressure that are relatable, and you have all the making of a show made for teens. If your child has had one teacher who has really made a difference in his or her life, this show is a tribute to that person. schoolofrockthemusical.com
6. “Kinky Boots” at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre
“Kinky Boots” is a show for the socially aware teen that pushes the very idea of acceptance and diversity. Its credo is “You change the world when you change your mind” and it will make a teen think about what is most important to them. Based on a book by Harvey Fierstein, it won six Tony Awards including best musical, choreography, and orchestrations. It’s the true story of English shoe factory owner Charlie Price, who saves his family business by manufacturing shoes for a niche market: Drag queens. The songs are so catchy that it’s almost evident that Cyndi Lauper wrote them, and teens will literally dance out of the theater. kinkybootsthemusical.com
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7. “The Glass Menagerie” at the Belasco Theatre
For teens who want to be introduced to classic dramatic theater, Lincoln Center has brought an updated version of the famous play “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams to Broadway, 70 years after it first premiered. One of Broadway’s most lauded directors, Sam Gold, has given the play a slight update about a Southern mother, played by Sally Field, and her two children. Madison Ferris, who has muscular dystrophy in real life, plays Laura, the reclusive daughter, and Joe Mantello plays the angry son. This is a memory play with a slew of emotions and secrets. It’s a haunting piece of theater and one that you and your teen will spend ample time talking about. glassmenagerieonbroadway.com
8. “Sweat” at Studio 54
Sweat is about working class America, with a focus on people who work in factories. It’s a gritty, realistic play for the politically minded teen which takes place in the bar the workers drink in after work. Playwright Lynn Nottage wrote the play after interviewing real life workers in Reading, exploring labor issues, unions, salaries and the hardships that come along with factory work. This play will make teens think about America’s political system and the human rights of all citizens. sweatbroadway.com
9. “Anastasia” at the Broadhurst Theatre
“Anastasia” is based on the 1997 animated film of the same name. Like “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812,” “Anastasia” is about the Russian Empire. The difference being that this play follows its main characters from Russia to Paris in the 1920’s. Through music and a well told story, the play is about a brave woman with a huge desire to find out who she is which involves discovering the truth about her royal family’s tragic history. Along the way, she not only encounters danger but also romance. It’s a grand theatrical experience, featuring a book by playwright Terrence McNally, and a story that teens will embrace. anastasiabroadway.com
10. “A Doll’s House Part 2” at the John Golden Theatre
More mature teens will enjoy “A Doll’s House, Part 2” at the Golden Theatre, a sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s ground-breaker of 1879. It’s a 90-minute about what happened to Nora Helmer, played by Laurie Metcalf, when she shows up 15 years later. The last time we saw her she was leaving her husband and children. She’s become a celebrated, and wealthy, author of books “about the things women do and want and don’t want and don’t do.” The show is parody but also commentary on modern society and will lead to some very interest conversations between you and your teen. dollshousepart2.com
Holly Fink is the editor of TheCultureMom.com.