As Neil Patrick Harris sang in the opening number of this year’s Tony Awards, so many child actors are working on Broadway right now, “they’re the reason this whole season seems to look like Chuck E. Cheese.” The good news for parents is that there has never been a better time to take your own kids to see a Broadway musical. We’re not even talking about shows that skew slightly older, like The Phantom of the Opera or Pippin: The current roster of Main Stem tuners includes seven titles that are ideal for school age kids. Consult our cheat sheet (in alphabetical order) to choose the perfect one for your family.
Why It’s Got Kid Appeal: The heroine is a fearless, feisty 11-year-old, who drives the show’s first hour with the help of her orphan sidekicks. The storyline is peppy, with no real doubt that Miss Hannigan will be put in her place and Annie and Daddy Warbucks will form a loving family unit. And the score is packed with hummable hits.
Why It’s Got Kid Appeal: A dream come true for fairytale-loving girls (and their moms!), this musical boasts sumptuous costumes, a meltingly romantic love story, funny dialogue, and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s lovely score. Laura Osnes and Santino Fontana have irresistible chemistry as Cinderella and Prince Topher.
The Lion King
Why It’s Got Kid Appeal: The “Circle of Life” parade of Julie Taymor’s puppet animals is still the most thrilling opening number on Broadway—and if your kids are familiar with Disney’s animated film (and the fact that Mufasa dies early on), they’ll thank you for making this their first Broadway musical.
Why It’s Got Kid Appeal: Any youngster who has felt different or belittled (i.e. almost everybody) will appreciate the story of Matilda Wormwood, the brilliant but unloved heroine of Roald Dahl’s novel. There's a dark comic edge to this acclaimed, beautifully acted and designed production, so read the book first.
Why It’s Got Kid Appeal: Most musicals have a slightly girly tinge (the better to appeal to ticket-buying moms), but Newsies is all boy—almost literally. Get ready to shop for a newsboy cap for your little guy, who’ll be enthralled by the story of spunky Jack Kelly and leap for joy at the show’s airborne choreography.
Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark
Why It’s Got Kid Appeal: It’s about a teenage superhero kids know and love, and there is plenty of real flying—like, up to the balcony flying. The show is a spectacle in every respect, but Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson share a sweet, believable relationship that balances the antics of the gaudy Green Goblin.
Why It’s Got Kid Appeal: Do we need to explain this one? Oz, Glinda, Elphaba, the Wizard, gorgeous design and production values, a fabulous Stephen Schwartz score—no wonder this adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s wonderful novel has thrilled families for a decade, both on Broadway and on tour.