The best theater for children from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s
Sun Feb 15 2009
These shows have enriched countless theater visits. Snag seats at those now playing; we’re gunning for revivals of the rest.
Big Apple Circus (1980--present)
NYC’s one-ring institution debuted in 1977, but it wasn’t until 1980 that it set up tent in Damrosch Park. Since then, jugglers, aerialists, acrobats and animals (plus the mischievous Grandma the clown) have visited yearly.
The Lion King (1997--present)
This breathtaking adaptation of the popular animated film made Disney Theatricals into the mouse that roared. The company’s genius stroke was to hire and trust director Julie Taymor, who ennobled the source material with proud African accents, elegant stagecraft and a dazzling menagerie of animal puppets.
It isn’t easy being green: Just ask Elphaba, the misunderstood young witch at the center of this inside-out prequel to The Wizard of Oz. The Yellow Brick Road has turned out to be pure gold for the producers of the megahit girl-power musical, which has proved especially popular with tweens.
More expert picks
* Roger Bedard, director of ArtsWork, a research and program development center focusing on children and the arts
* Kim Peter Kovac, producing director of the Kennedy Center Theater for Young Audiences
* Mary Rose Lloyd, director of programming at the New Victory Theater
* Barbara Pasternack, artistic director of TheatreworksUSA
* Stephen Sunderlin, producing artistic director of Vital Theatre Company
Incredulous because we overlooked your faves? Don’t get mad; set us straight! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your new classic picks.