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New York Family’s 2013 Theaters Guide

The New Victory Theater; photo by Jean-Louis Sagot

New York City is known for fabulous theater and performing arts. From student showcases to Broadway musicals, our city is a hotspot for all kinds of talent. So whether you want to see an adaptation of a favorite Disney movie or an original spin on your kids’ favorite book, this list of local theaters has something the whole family can enjoy together.

CHILDREN’S THEATER

13th Street Repertory

This theater offers many exciting shows for kids ages 3 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

DR2 Theatre

The DR2 Theatre in Union Square is an intimate 99-seat venue that has hosted many theatrical productions geared toward kids, including the most recent “The Velveteen Rabbit” and “Bunnicula.” dr2theatre.com

Galli Theater

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 multilingual families, plays are offered in English, French, and German. gallitheaterny.com

Kidz Theater

Kidz Theater doesn’t just put on productions for kids by kids. It also serves as a children’s acting studio where young aspiring actors learn fundamental stage acting techniques. From July 5-14, see the Kidz Theater troupe in “Sweeney Todd.” kidztheater.org

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 better understand theater. 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 is specifically for preschool-aged children. mctny.org

Making Books Sing 

This theater is all about education using music, puppetry, and physical comedy. This summer, Making Books Sing will team up with The New York Public Library for a touring production entitled “My City Park,” a 45-minute show for ages 3-10 about the important role that parks play in urban neighborhoods. makingbookssing.org

The New Victory Theater 

This theater selects programs that help educate and inspire the audience. With new baby shows in the upcoming season, their performances are great for children as young as 4 months, 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 4-9, based on a child’s everyday life. thepaperbagplayers.org

Puppetworks

These puppet adaptations of children’s favorite tales are whimsical, fun, and fascinating for children ages 3 and up. This summer, don’t miss their production of everyone’s favorite marionette adventure, “Pinocchio.” puppetworks.org

Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre

This puppet theater produces fairytales for children ages 3-9. Catch this summer’s performance of “Pippi,” adapted from the beloved children’s novel Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren. cityparksfoundation.org/arts/swedish-cottage-marionette-theatre

TADA! Youth Theater

These shows are performed by kids for all audiences. You can get your own children involved or simply enjoy the show as a family. Their next production, “Sleepover,” features favorite TADA! skits like “Sleepwalker” and “When You Live in the City.” tadatheater.com

Tribeca Performing Arts Center & TheatreWorks USA

Tribeca Performing Arts Center offers an array of performances geared for 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 Theatre puts on engaging hour-long performances for children ages 2-10. The company also has weekly summer camps for kids ages 4-6. vitaltheatre.org

BROADWAY AND OFF-BROADWAY THEATER

“Aladdin”

We’re so excited about “Aladdin” coming to Broadway next year that we wanted to give you a heads up! Disney’s mega-hit animated movie will make its Broadway musical debut in the spring of 2014. Details are being kept under wraps, but you can get a sneak peek by reading up on the pre-run in Toronto this winter. aladdinbroadway.com

“Annie”

When the sun comes out tomorrow, head over to the Palace Theatre and see “Annie.” This Broadway musical favorite has received rave reviews, most notably for its lead actress and rising star, Lilla Crawford. broadway.com/shows/annie-bway

“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

“Cinderella”

Originally produced for television in 1957 and starring an up-and-coming Julie Andrews, this Rodgers & Hammerstein musical made its Broadway debut this past March. Starring Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana, “Cinderella” features songs like “In My Own Little Corner,” “Ten Minutes Ago,” “A Lovely Night,” and more. broadway.com/shows/cinderella

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”

This Disney movie has been a Broadway hit since it opened in 1997. Between the elaborate costumes, colorful makeup, comedy, and heartwarming 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!”

“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

“Matilda The Musical”

Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book, Matilda, has arrived on Broadway in an all-new musical. “Matilda” is the story of a lively, highly imaginative girl and her adventures in which she uses her superpowers for good. This musical adaptation is presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company and features music and lyrics by comedian Tim Minchin. Tickets start at $37.broadway.com/shows/matilda

“Newsies The Musical”

Based on the Disney movie and the real-life 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

“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

“Piggy Nation The Musical”

Perfect for ages 3 and up, this hour-long Off-Broadway show about one little pig’s summer vacation teaches the importance of selflessness and family. Adapted from Richard Rosser’s children’s book, Piggy Nation: A Day At Work With Dad, this heartwarming musical features an original score of rap, rock, and blues-inspired tunes. piggynationnyc.com

“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

“Stomp”

This eight-person ensemble creates music with everyday items; no real instruments allowed. It’s all about dance, rhythm, and creativity. Children over the age of 5 will enjoy it.broadway.com/shows/stomp

“Wicked”

The prequel to 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 8 and up. broadway.com/shows/wicked

 

MUSIC, DANCE AND LIVE PERFORMANCE

Barclays Center

Brooklyn’s new multi-million dollar entertainment mega-complex is much more than just the Brooklyn Nets’ home arena. Throughout the year, the biggest acts in music and the entertainment industry perform for thousands of spectators. In July, Cirque du Soleil’s “Quidam” will amaze all ages. barclayscenter.com

Big Apple Circus

You and your kids will be dazzled by the acts and animals which come together under the big tent during the Big Apple Circus. The show rotates through Queens, Rhode Island, and Lake George, NY. bigapplecircus.org

Carnegie Hall

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. 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 can look to the interactive Jazz for Young People Concerts series to introduce their young ones to the rhythms and history of jazz. jalc.org

Lincoln Center

The iconic theater offers every type of arts event under the sun. There are ballets, exhibits, and plays for your whole family to enjoy. lincolncenter.org

Little Orchestra Society

This company is devoted to putting on family-friendly shows. Ages 3-5 should check out the Lolli-Pops shows, where they can learn about music while hanging out with characters like Buzz the Bee. For ages 6-12, look into the Happy Concerts series. littleorchestra.org

Manhattan Movement & Arts Center

The Manhattan Movement & Arts Center (MMAC) is home to the Manhattan Youth Ballet as well as the MMAC Theater which currently hosts the Off-Broadway family hit, “The Berenstain Bears LIVE” (see above). manhattanmovement.com

The Metropolitan Opera

Although The Metropolitan Opera’s season is over, you can still see The American Ballet Theatre’s production of Tchaikovsky’s “The Sleeping Beauty” at Lincoln Center during the week of July 1. And be sure to watch for Julie Taymor’s production of “The Magic Flute” beginning December 16.  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, likeCinderella and Sleeping Beauty, come to life on stage. nytb.org

Symphony Space 

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 taking your child to the theater, click here.