If you’re planning on treating your kids to a special outing on Broadway, then our ranked list of the best Broadway shows for kids is sure to make choosing the plays for kids a cinch. In this selection, you’ll find Tony Award-winning shows, favorite childhood books and films brought to life on stage and stunning displays of puppetry and scenery that will whisk you all away to another world.
RECOMMENDED: More plays for kids in NYC
Broadway’s offerings change up—we just welcomed Anastasia and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and SpongeBob SquarePants is debuting December 2017—so make sure to check back in for updates throughout the year. If you’re looking for things to do between showtimes, pick activities from our favorite 101 things to do with kids in NYC, introduce kids to the inspiration behind some of these films with our list of the best kids’ movies and venture off Broadway with the best plays for kids in New York City.
The best Broadway shows for kids
Based on novelist Gregory Maguire's 1995 adult variation on L. Frank Baum's Oz mythology, Wicked provides a prequel to the children's book and movie. The musical addresses complex themes, such as standards of beauty, morality and, believe it or not, opposition to fascism. Thanks to a witty book by Winnie Holzman (creator of ’90s cult angstfest My So-Called Life) and composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz's robust score, Wicked soars. While children five and up are permitted in the theater, little ones might be afraid of the flying monkeys—we'd recommend this show for kids that are a tiny bit older. Ages 8 and up.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic, bombastic musical goes on. Directed by Harold Prince, The Phantom of the Opera is lavish and engaging enough to draw tourists more than two decades into its run. Although the score often strikes a cheesy 1980s synth-pop note, the spectacle and romance remain more or less intact. —David Cote
Practice your “bass face” and get ready for some killer guitar solos—the rockin’ musical based on the 2003 feature film School of Rock is now on Broadway! The show follows Dewey Finn, a failed musician posing as a substitute teacher at a refined prep school, as he shirks typical teaching practices to pass on his love of rock ‘n roll to his students. Regular NYC kids got the chance to jam out during open auditions for the show, and now they’ll hit the stage with Eric Petersen—the energetic actor tasked with filling Jack Black’s shoes in the role of Dewey—to perform music from the movie, plus new tunes written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Ages 8 and up.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic musical returns as a taxidermied pet. In other words, this is the same tacky and tedious '80s spectacle that ran an inexplicable 18 years on Broadway. Very little can freshen up the synth-heavy tunes or bolster the scattershot book. If you loved Cats as a kid, this will be a trip down "Memory" lane.
Go on a journey to the past in this story inspired by the true story of the Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov and the rumors and mysteries that surrounded her disappearance after her royal family was overthrown. Travel through Russia and Paris as orphan Anya hopes to find her home and family with the help of a conman and ex-aristocrat. Kids will be singing songs from the musical on their way back home and the costumes will make us all wish we could travel back to such grand times. Ages 8 and up.
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants! And soon, Nickelodeon’s clothed and spongey character will also live at the Palace Theater. The cast of underwater characters, including Squidward, Sandy Cheeks and Patrick, will be a part of a new Broadway Musical beginning December 4, 2017, and we can’t think of a better way to introduce little ones to the magic of Broadway! All ages.
Explore the wonderful world of Willy Wonka and his delicious inventions alongside Charlie Bucket and four other golden ticket-winners. Roald Dahl’s story about an oddball inventor who’s opening the gates to his chocolate factory to a few lucky kids. Including favorite tunes from the original film like “Pure Imagination” and “The Candy Man,” kids will be enchanted by this land of candy and Oompa-Loompas. Ages 6 and up.