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Best Off Broadway shows for kids and families

Blue Man Group, Winnie the Pooh and other fun Off Broadway shows for kids make for a memorable family night out

Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman
&
Time Out New York editors
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There's no business like show business, and there's no place better for shows than New York City. The sheer range of Off Broadway show for kids proves just that. Each of these theater productions offers something unique, including blue men from another world, wild percussion, a man-eating plant and—much to kids' delight—more bubbles than you've probably ever seen before. (Of course, there are plenty of great Broadway shows for kids as well.) 

Note that proof of vaccination is currently required for anyone over 12 and a negative COVID test is required for kids who are younger than that. Masks must also be worn inside the theater. Be sure to check out the specific requirements for any show you plan to attend before going.

RECOMMENDED: More theater for kids in NYC

Have you already checked out these cool Off Broadway shows for kids? New York has plenty of other fun activities up its sleeve. Visit these family attractions with your crew, grab a bite to eat after the show at one of these fun restaurants or try to check the 101 things to do with kids in NYC off your list. 

Off Broadway Shows for Kids

  • Theatre
  • Musicals

Director and puppet master Jonathan Rockefeller, who has previously created the successful children's-theater opuses The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show and Paddington Gets in a Jam, turns his attention to the Walt Disney featurettes adapted from A.A. Milne's cherished Winnie-the-Pooh books. The show features life-size puppets of Hundred Acre Wood denizens Winnie, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet and the rest, and includes songs by the Sherman Brothers (Mary Poppins) and Milne himself. Ages 3 and up. 

Blue Man Group
  • Theatre
  • Comedy

Three deadpan blue-skinned men with extraterrestrial imaginations carry this tourist fave, a show as smart as it is ridiculous. They drum on open tubs of paint, creating splashes of color; they consume Twinkies and Cap'n Crunch; they engulf the audience in a roiling sea of toilet paper. For sheer weird, exuberant fun, it's hard to top this long-running treat. Ages 5 and up.

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals

Jeremy Jordan, Tammy Blanchard and Christian Borle star in the latest revival of this tuneful and winsome 1982 musical about a carnivorous plant who makes dreams come true for a lowly flower-shop worker. Composer Alan Menken and librettist Howard Ashman wrap a sordid tale of capitalist temptation and moral decay in layers of sweetness, humor, wit and camp. It's sometimes dark, but older kids will eat it up. Ages 10 and up.

  • Theatre
  • Musicals

In iTheatrics's live stage version of Jim Henson's 1977 HBO gem, a washtub-bass-playing otter and his mother embark on an O. Henry–inspired quest to buy each other the perfect holiday gifts. Adapted from an illustrated children's tale by Russell and Lillian Hoban, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas features puppets by the Jim Henson Company, a score by master pop songsmith Paul Williams ("Rainbow Connection") and a book by Timothy Allen McDonald and director-choreographer Christopher Gattelli. 

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  • Theatre
  • Circuses

After declaring bankruptcy in 2016 to widespread lamentations, the family-friendly circus came bouncing back to life at Lincoln Center a year later, and now returns for its 43nd season with an all-new show. Ringmaster and acrobat Alan Silva (America's Got Talent) presides over a spectacle that includes aerialist Nik Wallenda and his famous circus kin as well as comic daredevil Johnny Rockett, dachshund wrangler Diana Vedyashkina and an international cast of astonishing speciality artists. Philip Wm. McKinley, who presided over the post–Julie Taymor version of Broadway's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, serves as director and choreographer. (Schedules vary from week to week so be sure to check the curtain time.)

  • Theatre
  • Circuses

A new take on the legendary Bozo the Clown is among the many attractions at the inaugural edition of Remarkable Experiences's Empire Circus, an immersive children-of-all-ages experience at Dumbo's five-story Empire Stores (home to the Time Out Market) and its riverside courtyard. Attendees choose their own paths through a variety of acts in a show directed and cocreated by stage and circus performer Lorenzo Pisoni. The actor David Arquette, who now own the rights to Bozo, serves as the project's creative director.

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  • Theatre
  • Musicals

Families will get a kick out of this massively spectacular holiday stalwart, which still features Santa, wooden soldiers and the dazzling Rockettes. In the signature kick line that finds its way into most of the big dance numbers, 36 flawless pairs of gams rise and fall like the batting of an eyelash, their perfect unison a testament to the disciplined human form. Ages 4 and up.

  • Theatre
  • Circuses

The mammoth Québécois neocirque troupe presents its first holiday-themed production, an extended riff on Clement Clarke Moore's 1823 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Writer-director James Hadley's show follows a young girl who is yanked, on Christmas Eve, into a magical world where acrobatics and elaborate spectacle take the place of those boring old dancing sugar plums. 

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  • Theatre
  • Children's

Eric Schaeffer pays homage to a gentle holiday classic with a family-oriented stage adaptation of the 1965 Peanuts television special. Directed by Robert Coulson, the show is accompanied by a jazz trio playing the Vince Guaraldi score, while live actors mimic the voices and physicality of the cartoon characters. An audience sing-along of carols and yuletide favorites follows the performance.

  • Theatre
  • Comedy

Randy Sharp directs the annual Axis production of this fairy-tale piece for children, in which a boy gets an unjustly fearsome reputation after swatting flies. Supporting characters in his ensuring adventures include a witch, an ogre, a princess and the Scarlet Pimpernel. The cast, which features several actors who have been with the show since its 2002 debut, includes Spencer Aste, Brian Barnhart, Regina Betancourt, George Demas, Britt Genelin, Laurie Kilmartin, Emily Kratter, Lynn Mancinelli, Edgar Oliver, Brian Parks and Jim Sterling.

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  • Theatre

Husband and wife duo Fan and Ana Yang have traveled world-wide to dazzle their audiences with their self-titled masterpiece, "bubble artistry." As lights flicker and music plays, prepare to catch some of the wonkiest looking bubbles you've ever encountered. Kids and parents alike will love how these soapy spectacles create a can't-miss experience. Ages 5 and up.

  • Theatre
  • Comedy

Mischief Theatre’s long-running slapstick farce finds six amateur British actors (and two crew members who get pressed into service onstage) trying to perform a hackneyed whodunnit amid challenges that escalate from minor mishaps to bona fide medical emergencies and massive structural calamities. Kids with a taste for zany comedy will be rolling in the aisles. Ages 10 and up. 

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