When it comes to plays and performances for kids, NYC has a variety of shows to delight all ages and interests. Book seats at any of these family-friendly plays to introduce little ones to the magic of children’s theater and performing arts before shelling out the big bucks for Broadway shows and Off Broadway shows. Tickets might be cheaper, but they still pack in the enjoyment of watching adventures play out on stage.
RECOMMENDED: More plays for kids in NYC
Whether your kids are into animal puppets, musicals, fun twists on classic stories or want to be a part of the action at an interactive show, these productions are ready to entertain all! And once the tiny theatergoers are ready for larger spectacles, check out our tips on how to get discount tickets for Broadway shows for kids.
Plays and performances for kids
The first Summer Family Theater Festival will give families a cool place to hide from the sun. Productions by Vital Theatre Company, Doppelskope, the Amazing Max and Ragtag Theatre Company are all part of a lineup of kid-friendly shows. Catch Pinkalicious The Musical, a silly story about a girl who eats so many pink cupcakes, she develops a skin condition that turns her entire body pink! (July 16–August 27, select Sat and Suns 11am) Flight School The Musical follows the story of a penguin who wishes he could fly (July 16–August 6, select Sat and Sun 1pm) and The Amazing Max will wow children with his magic tricks (July 16–August 26, select Sat and Sun 3pm). Ragtag Theatre’s Cinderella presents a hilarious adaptation of the timeless fairytale (July 29–August 27, select Sat and Sun 3:30pm) and Gruff! is an interactive, family-friendly fairytale eco-musical (August 4–27, Fri 7pm and Sat and Sun 1pm). If your kid feels inspired to jump on stage, Pinkalicious Performance Camps will run through the summer and will culminate with a performance by the kiddos (July 10–Aug 25, Mon–Fri 9am–12pm)! A free open house will kick off the festival on Saturday, July 15th 11am–1pm where families can meet the shows' stars, participate in crafts, and catch preview performances! Various ages.
The beloved tale of a boy and his stuffed rabbit come to life plays out on this musical rendition by the Pushcart Players of New Jersey. Follow along as the pair journeys through fantastical adventures and discover the meaning of friendship along the way. Ages 3–11.
Experience puppetry magic as Eric Carle’s beloved story comes to life on stage for a limited season at the DR2 Theater. The production will also feature three of Carle’s other children’s books: 10 Little Rubber Ducks, The Very Lonely Firefly and the world premiere of Brown Bear, Brown Bear in celebration of its 50th anniversary. All ages.
Lessons about overcoming stereotypes abound in this marionette adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's 1898 tale, complete with a soundtrack out of the 1930s. The story follows the friendship between a brave girl and a shy dragon who thwart a plan to steal the town's sheep. Ages 3 and up.
Created by Fan Yang, 16-time Guinness-record holder for blowing the biggest soap bubble, this show is an ode to airborne orbs. In the newest incarnation of the show, Yang's son, 20-year-old Deni Yang, takes over, presenting magic, lighting effects and bubbles—giant bubbles, walls of bubbles, helium bubbles and bubbles within bubbles. Ages 5 and up.
When Little Girl first receives her new puppy Biscuit, she’s over the moon happy, but that soon gives way to fear that this little guy is just too mischievous for her family. The musical, based on the popular children’s book series, follows Biscuit has he runs around, making new friends and getting into trouble. Ages 3–7.
This Park Slope puppet theater presents Robert Southey's folk tale about one fuzzy family and a very curious little girl. Kids will be enchanted by the artful marionettes and lively music. Call ahead for reservations, which are suggested. Ages 3 and up.
Free family performances are happening all summer long at Piers 25 and 62 thanks to Hudson RiverKids (hosted by Hudson River Park)! See Kid Ace (May 22, 25 at 4pm), the Story Pirates (June 1 4pm, June 5 6:30pm), Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band (June 12, 15 at 6:30pm), Alastair Mook (June 19, 22 at 6:30pm) and many more including Tim Kubart, Rolie Polie Guacamole and Suzi Shelton, to name a few! See Hudson River Park's website for even more details. All ages.
The British production comes to this side of the pond with a semi-scary animal tale. Mouse searches the dark woods for hazelnuts when he runs into Fox, Owl and Snake and they all want him for dinner. Mouse begins telling them the story of the scary Gruffalo in the hopes of saving his skin and living to see another day. Will it work? Ages 3–10.
The Manhattan Bridge Archway is the place to be on Thursday evenings this summer, when this free 18-week performance series serves up swing dancing, world roots music, DJs and more. Kids can swing to the lively jazz of the 1920s with Ghost Train Orchestra on August 3, learn to tango with Los Chantas on August 24, or marvel at the interactive circus antics of Big Sky Works on Aug 17. Visit dumbo.is to see the full schedule. All ages.