Best Broadway shows for kids
Simba and his story continue to keep visitors of the Minskoff Theater entertained year after year (as proven by The Lion King's TONY award wins). The spectacular puppetry allow the Disney favorite to come to life, and an Elton John-Tim Rice score certainly doesn't hurt, either. As much as we love the movie, we can't help but swoon over this rendition of a classic. Ages 6 and up.
Is it cold in here or is it just Elsa? The sisterly duo behind Disney's smash hit, Frozen—Anna and Elsa—made their Broadway debut this year and we're certainly not willing to let it go any time soon. The St. James Theater is home to the tale of love, friendship and sisterhood, and your gang is going to have no problem belting out the fan-favorite tunes along with our stars. All ages.
We sure hope you're wearing pink and snacking on Kaltine Bars during the musical rendition of the cult classic, Mean Girls. The Plastics have come to Broadway, and the results have been nothing short of "grool." Journey alongside Cadie as she makes her way from Kenya to the hallways of a U.S. high school. Much like the limit, her social skills do not exist, but things change when the ultimate school clique lets her into their world. Will she survive it all? Ages 12 and up.
Will Roland (Dear Evan Hansen) stars as a teenager who pops a pill to be popular in this sci-fi high school musical by Joe Iconis and Joe Tracz, based on a 2004 novel by Ned Vizzini. The cast album from the show's 2015 premiere in New Jersey has become an online sensation with the young-adult audience, and now the show moves to Broadway after a sold-out Off Broadway run last year. Stephen Brackett directs a cast that includes much of the 2015 company as well as longtime Iconis associates Jason Tam and Jason SweetTooth Williams.
The world of Harry Potter has arrived on Broadway, Hogwarts and all, and it is a triumph of theatrical magic. Set two decades after the final chapters of J.K. Rowling’s world-shaking kid-lit heptalogy, the two-part epic Harry Potter and the Cursed Child combines grand storytelling with stagecraft on a scale heretofore unimagined. Richly elaborated by director John Tiffany, the show looks like a million bucks (or, in this case, a reported $68 million); the Lyric Theatre has been transfigured from top to bottom to immerse us in the narrative. It works: The experience is transporting. Jack Thorne’s play, based on a story he wrote with Rowling and Tiffany, extends the Potter narrative while remaining true to its core concerns. Love and friendship and kindness are its central values, but they don’t come easily: They are bound up in guilt, loneliness and fear. Harry (Jamie Parker) is weighted with trauma dating back to his childhood, which hinders his ability to communicate with his troubled middle son, Albus (Sam Clemmett); it doesn’t help that Albus’s only friend is the bookish outcast Scorpius Malfoy (the exceptional Anthony Boyle), son of Harry’s erstwhile enemy, Draco (Alex Price). Despite the best intentions of Harry’s solid wife, Ginny (Poppy Miller), and his friends Hermione (Noma Dumezweni) and Ron (Paul Thornley), things turn dark very fast. Ages 8 and up.
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.
This adaptation of the Disney classic tops the rest with its kiddie-crowd-pleasing laughs and upbeat music. Charming street urchin Aladdin brings his exotic world to Broadway along with beloved songs like "A Whole New World" and "Friend Like Me," plus several new tunes, which come to life onstage through music composed by Alan Menken and lyrics penned by Howard Ashman and Tony Award winner Tim Rice. Kids will be dazzled by the color-drenched production and awe-inspiring special effects, like a confetti cannon and fireworks. Ages 6 and up.
Broadway musicals often feature heroines trying to find themselves, but perhaps never as literally as in Anastasia. In 1927 Leningrad, the scrappy, strapping Dmitry (Derek Klena) and the worldly, roguish Vlad (John Bolton) devise a scheme to pass off a street sweeper, Anya (Christy Altomare), as the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nicholaevna Romanov, rumored to have survived the massacre of the rest of her royal family in the Russian Revolution 10 years earlier. But as the con men school her, My Fair Lady–like, in the ways of nobility—hoping to deceive Anastasia’s grandmother in Paris, the Dowager Empress (an elegant Mary Beth Peil)—it emerges that Anya may be the real Anastasia after all. Who knows? Not Anya: She has amnesia. What former self might be nested like a doll inside her, waiting to be revealed?
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. James Barbour now plays the Phantom.—David Cote Running time: 2hrs 30mins. One intermission.
In this captivating original musical, Hello, Dolly! scene-stealer Taylor Trensch now plays the title role of a high school student thrust into social relevance after a classmate's suicide. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's score combines well-crafted lyrics with an exciting pop sound, and Steven Levenson’s book gives all the characters shaded motives. Ages 12 and up.
Based on the 2007 indie film by the late writer-director Adrienne Shelly, Waitress has been whipped into an expertly constructed and emotionally satisfying tale of self-liberation in the face of limited options. Jessie Nelson’s broadly comic yet brooding book meshes wonderfully with a frisky, bright score by pop star Sara Bareilles, a seasoned songwriter who lets the Beatles and other Britpop influences shine through. Bareilles’s custom-built earworms address workplace pluck (“Opening Up”), first-date jitters (“When He Sees Me”), quirky, obsessive love (“Never Ever Getting Rid of Me”) and an eleventh-hour ballad of loss and regret (“She Used to Be Mine”), which will rip your heart out. Ages 8 and up.
It's only fitting that King Kong gets its time in the NYC theater spotlight. In this ape-meets-girl classic, audiences will be treated to a musical with one larger-than-life puppet, a book by Jack Thorne (who has worked on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and songs by Marius de Vries and Eddie Perfect. Ages 8 and up.