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The Best Kid-Friendly Shows on Broadway Right Now

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


Broadway currently offers ample opportunities to introduce your kids to the magic of theater

Creating life-long theater fans starts at an early age. Parents who bring their children to their first Broadway show are building the audiences of tomorrow while simultaneously introducing them to a celebrated art form. Taking a child to see a Broadway show takes some planning and understanding of what plays and musicals will be both appropriate and entertaining for the younger crowd. Here are some child-friendly Broadway plays and musicals (currently running) that are perfect choices to ignite that love of theater in your young ones.

Christy Altomare and Zach Adkins in ‘Anastasia’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Christy Altomare and Zach Adkins in ‘Anastasia’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Once on This Island
A musical steeped in folklore, mythology and enchanting music, Once on This Island is a Caribbean fairytale about a girl who takes a fantastic journey to find her true love. Along the way, she is aided by the gods and goddesses of her island, making trade-offs and sacrifices to succeed in her quest. For an unparalleled multi-cultural experience that shows young audiences to a world outside of their own, Once on This Island is the perfect introduction into the wonders of musical theater.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Are your kids avid readers, and have they been introduced to Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling? If so, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child might just be the ticket to lead them to a Broadway show. Continuing the story of everyone’s favorite wizard and his devoted friends into their adulthood – and telling an imaginative story about their offspring in its own right – the play dovetails nicely with their love of reading. Imagine their delight seeing these characters brought to life onstage!

Frozen The Broadway Musical
Just about every parent and his or her child have seen the Disney animated film Frozen, or at least heard the song “Let It Go.” That film has a live-action adaptation currently thrilling Broadway audiences at the St. James Theatre. Herein lies a prime opportunity for comparison and contrast. Start out by reading the original Hans Christian Andersen fairytale The Snow Queen, followed by watch the Oscar-winning movie. Then, see how Frozen evolved for the Broadway production. What a great way to create discussion with your child around how a story can be interpreted and reimagined. 

Anastasia
For the child who can handle slightly more mature content, and with some understanding of the historical context around the piece, the musical Anastasia might be a perfect introduction to the Broadway musical. Many kids have questions around, and curiosity about, the darker aspects of history. Anastasia, though largely fictional but inspired by real events, delivers the general tone of that history in a kid-friendly way. It also featured a gorgeous Lynn Ahrens/Stephen Flaherty score, some of it lifted from the animated film version of Anastasia.   

School of Rock
This one closes in January after a successful and celebrated run, so don’t miss your opportunity to introduce your kids to a rock ’n’ roll musical. School of Rock is particularly potent for kids because it is about kids. A substitute teacher inspires young musicians by turning them into a cohesive unit, forming a rock band that draws on their individual talents. It also has positive messages about teamwork, hard work and how the arts transform us, both individually and as a society.

Aladdin
Disney offers no shortage of family-friendly musicals on Broadway, and Aladdin is among their finest. The story, about a young man who doesn’t believe in himself finally finding his self-confidence and making a difference in the world, has a great message for kids. Aladdin is also set in Agrabah, a fictional land that draws heavily upon influences from the Middle East, a part of the world that kids may have received many mixed messages about. Exposing kids to different cultures creates empathy and understanding. Most of all, Aladdin is just great fun, full of illusion, magic and melody.

Wicked
What kid hasn’t grown up and in some way been exposed to The Wizard of Oz? Wicked teaches kids that there are many sides to any story, and that one person’s villain can be someone else’s heroine. The story of Elphaba (a.k.a. The Wicked Witch of the West) demonstrates empowerment, friendship and standing up for what you believe in. It teaches kids to embrace their individuality and to be the voice of change they want to see in the world.

The Lion King
Of course, no list of kid-appropriate shows would be complete without the long-running The Lion King. Breathtaking alone for the majesty and artistry that composes the first five-minutes of the show, for the wonderment that Julie Taymor’s puppetry and staging ignites, The Lion King is guaranteed to leave your child awestruck.  Add to this the multicultural experience that comes with the music, costumes, dance and scenic visuals, and this show is a guaranteed evening of theatrical magic that will keep your child returning to Broadway musicals for the rest of their lives.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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