Best NYC Theater Options for Kids

Two actors jump in the air during a performance of Newsies on Boradway in NYC

There were a few years there, back when my kids were younger, when one of our favorite summer traditions was to spend a few days in August doing all sorts of touristy things. Most of the stuff, frankly, was pretty forgettable–one notable exception was the Ellis Island Museum–but the staycation's centerpiece was always a blast: hitting the TKTS booth in the morning and going to whatever big Broadway musical we could get into that night.

We had a great time at the likes of Wicked, Mamma Mia, and the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. August is a perfect time to take in a show, and the choices are plentiful!  Newsies, Rocky, Cinderella, and Motown the Musical are all up for grabs, among many others.

Actors in colorful shirts perform the finale in a production at the  National Dance Institute

Beyond the Broadway Experience

Of course, there are plenty of terrific smaller theaters throughout the city where you'll also find first-rate shows (and at much cheaper prices) geared toward the younger set.

  • In Central Park this summer, for example, Bessie's Big Shot (in which a cow pursues her dream of joining the circus) is playing several times a day at the iconic Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre.
  • Summerstage Kids has a full slate of free performances throughout the rest of summer, highlighted by a usually-fantastic National Dance Institute (above) production on Tuesday, August 5. 

Three members of the ensemble of Mulan: The Percussion Musical perform

The best of Off-Broadway Entertainment

Theatreworks USA in Chelsea is hosting its annual, month-long schedule of free performances (it ends August 22), and this year the show is The Lightning Thief, based on Rick Riordin's massive bestseller of (almost) the same name. In the East Village, La Mama offers up Mulan: The Percussion Musical, staged by the great Red Poppy Ladies' Percussion group, which promises to be loud and lively fun (bonus: excellent ice cream right next door). Or you can treat the crew to any number of classic, crowd-pleasing Off- (and Off-Off-) Broadway shows, from Blue Man Group and Stomp (both of which are almost always at TKTS) to the Gazillion Bubbles Show and the new, more teenage-orientated Wayra Fuerza Bruta in Union Square.           

What Broadway shows did you see? Did we miss any great shows? Tell us in the comments! 

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