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Performing Arts - Plays for Kids - Intoduce Your Child to Live Theater

Updated on September 17, 2012
Lily Rose profile image

I am a mom of two beautiful girls (10 & 12). We love to read, play, cook, shop and have fun together. I love to share great products/toys.


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.

One of our first stage performances - a puppet show at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater in Balboa Park, San daughter volunteered to come on stage...
One of our first stage performances - a puppet show at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater in Balboa Park, San daughter volunteered to come on stage...

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? 

Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Amaturo Theater - this is where I brought my daughters to see Snow White a couple of months ago.
Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Amaturo Theater - this is where I brought my daughters to see Snow White a couple of months ago.

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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    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Thank you, DMark3429 - I completely agree, and I'm happy to hear about your local theater offering a variety of children's theater!

    • DMark3429 profile image

      DMark3429 7 years ago from Dothan, AL

      Good article. Our theater (not primarily a children's theater but every other production is a child's theater variety) is beginning to see a boom in young actors and it's a wonderful thing to see happening. Theater is a great way to help keep kids off the streets and should be highly encouraged as an outlet and activity.

    • regitar profile image

      regitar 7 years ago from CHINA

      really a good theatre, hope you and you children happy

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks for the comment, Beth. You're right, the earlier the kids get used to proper behavior, the better behaved they will be later in life - in the theater and out!

    • Beth Therese profile image

      Beth Therese 7 years ago from New York, NY

      This is a great article - more kids need to be exposed to the theater. I get frustrated when I see tweens at a show, and they don't know how to behave because they have never seen a play before.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      How wonderful that your nephew has had such an opportunity, Nelle! I remember being brought - when I was a bit older - to see off-broadway performances like Madame Butterfly and more and it went a long way to forming my love of the theater. I hope I can do the same for my kids.

    • profile image

      Nelle Hoxie 7 years ago

      That sounds like so much fun! I can't wait to have small children in the family again to do things like this. When my nephew was 5 he was old enough to go to a regional theater near here. While they didn't do child specific plays, their stuff was PG enough that it worked. A Christmas Carol, The Importance of Being Ernest, Sound of Music, Oklahoma, South Pacific. To this day he's a Rogers and Hamerstein fan!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      I used to take our son to pantomime and I enjoyed it more than he did.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      I can't wait until I can take them to a broadway show - something that they and I can appreciate together! Not that I don't appreciate the shows more geared for the kids, but they're kind of boring for me. Taking the girls and being able to see the excitement on their faces and listen to them afterwards makes it all worthwhile, though. Thanks for the comment, Katiem2.

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Oh I agree, I agree, this is great for young minds. I'll never forget taking my two daughters to see CATS, the broadway cats, while young, the cats came out into the audience and their favorite came right up to them kneeling before them, magical. Childrens theatre is a great vechicle to dream. Thanks :)