Performing Arts - Plays for Kids - Intoduce Your Child to Live Theater
Live theater used to be thought of as only for adults, but this is changing all over America. Today you can finds a lot of children’s theatre performances. I know that where I live in South Florida, there are a myriad of options for families – or even teachers & schools – to take their kids to the live theater. There are several things to consider when bringing children to their first live theater performance to ensure a great experience for you all.
If you’re interested in introducing your young child or children to the theater, I would suggest starting with a familiar storyline and characters that’ll appeal to them and be appropriate for the child’s age group, and interests. Ask around; you may have friends or know teachers who have been to a theater performance recently. Also check local listings and read newspaper reviews either in print or online. If you can’t find a show that is familiar, read about the available plays for kids or other performances and make a determination as to whether or not you feel it would be appropriate for your child.
Once you think you have an option or two, call the theater and ask more about it, such as how child-oriented it is and if there are any scary parts. Is it age appropriate, will younger children understand the humor and story, at least to a reasonable degree? These are all very good and appropriate questions that should be no problem getting an answer to.
Shows that involve audience participation are good because they hold the children’s’ attention and keep them engaged. Shows that involve a good amount of costumes and sets, like The Wizard of Oz, would also be good choices for children.
Some theaters will even allow you to meet the characters backstage, which will give little ones something to look forward to – do be sure to ask if that is offered where you go.
Make sure before you buy tickets that you also know how long the show runs (before and after intermission), because if your children are pretty young their attention span is usually not too long. On that note, make sure you ask about the theater’s policy about leaving during the performance (and pick your seats wisely if you’re concerned about having to pick up and go quickly). Of course, most theaters that put on performances for children would, or should, be pretty lax with such a policy. You should make sure that your kids are old enough to be able to sit relatively still through the performance.
Once you’ve finally selected a performance, talk about it with your kids. If the show parallels a book or movie, read the book or watch the movie together and talk about it prior to the show date. It help when the children somewhat know what to expect, even though the show will usually be a little different. This also help to get the kids excited to go see the show on stage.
A very important must-do prior to going to the theater for the show is to talk with your kids about the required and expected etiquette during the show. Walk, no running. No talking during the performance; hold questions for intermission. First time theater-goers may have a hard time with these rules, so be prepared for it and remind them that other people want to see the show, too, and want to hear it.
You don’t want your children to get too restless before the show, so don’t get there too early, but you do want to get there early enough to find your seats and then make a restroom stop before the show starts.
It’s always fun to make a day of it when we go to the theater, so we usually go have a treat somewhere after the show, like ice cream. That’s a good time to talk about the show with your kids; ask them questions and share how you all felt about the show and what your favorite parts were. Ask them how they felt about the sets and costumes. Are they able to retell the story to you or sing any of the songs for you?
The theater can be wonderfully fun for children as well as a great learning experience and something that they’ll always remember. The first theater show I took my girls to was a puppet show in San Diego at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater; we’ve been many times now and they love it. A few months ago I took them to see their first play, Snow White, at a performing arts theater. Our next show will be Beauty and the Beast next month and I’m really excited for my daughters because they are so in love with all of the Disney Princesses right now. At three- and five-years old, it is now a pleasure to take them to the theater.
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