How to Have a Great Trip to the Theater With Kids
Is You Child Ready for the Theater?
Before taking your child out into the world of theater, make sure they are mature enough to handle the event without frustrating everyone else in your row. Children need to be able to sit relatively still for 90 minutes at a time, and do so without talking. If your child cannot make it through a movie without getting up three times, Annie may have to wait.
A significant part of parenting is brainwashing our children to like the things we like. This includes everything from our favorite sports teams to our favorite hobbies. One of the things many parents hope to get their children to love is theater. Recent years have seen a strong growth in touring companies around the world, bringing world-class theater to most major cities in North America, and many across the globe. Here are some tips to make sure you, your child, and the other people around you, enjoy your next trip to the theater with your child.
Choose Something Appropriate
Pick a play or musical that will be of interest to your child. It is best if you have seen the show beforehand. If this is not possible, read reviews and make sure you will be comfortable taking your child to the show. Just because the theme is appropriate and the language is clean, does not mean the show is a good fit for your child. If the show is boring to them, they may resist ever going to the theater again. For children, musicals are much more accessible than Shakespeare.
Make It Easier on You
Get to the Theater Early
This tip is vital. Getting to the theater early helps you feel less stressed. It is easier to find parking, you are not panicked about being late, and you can spend time letting your child soak in the new environment. Getting to the theater early also allows you do another important thing, take your child to the bathroom at least twice before the show starts. Nobody wants to have to miss the show, and the people behind you and next to you don’t want to have to get up so you can take your child to the bathroom again. The lines will be much shorter before the show than at intermission.
Enjoy the Spectacle
How old should a child be before going to the theater?
Get a Booster
Most theaters have booster seats available for a small fee. These are worth every cent. These seats usually make a child more comfortable in their seat, which leads to less fidgeting, and they let the child see, even if a bigheaded adult sits in front of them. Tickets aren’t cheap. Make sure your child can see the show,
Find a Show Near You
The Orchestra Pit
Show Them Around
Another benefit of arriving early is the chance to walk around and see the lobby, see the balcony, and the floor. Kids love to walk down and look in the orchestra pit. This walking around also helps get the wiggles out of children before the show starts. If you are planning in buying a souvenir, look at the merchandise tables before the show starts. If possible make your purchase before the show. The next best choice is at intermission, but do not prioritize merchandise over a trip to the bathroom.
Before going to the theater, set the expectations of how your child should behave. Explain that good manners at the theater means to be quiet during the show, and to not leave your seat until intermission. Explain that the theater will sometimes be dark, but that like a movie, there will be light on the stage. If necessary explain that what happens on the stage is pretend, just like in the movies. This conversation is best had more than once before a child attends the theater for the first time.
Four Musicals That Are Great With Kids
Beauty and the Beast
Talk About the Show
Once the show is over talk to your child about it. Make sure they understood the story. See what they liked and didn’t like. If seeing a musical, consider buying the soundtrack. When children see you are interested in their views, they will be more excited to share. Find out if there is anything they didn’t like. Tell them about your likes and dislikes. Talking about the show is a way to extend the magic of the stage a little bit further and a little bit longer.
Make the entire outing an adventure. Dress up nice for the theater. People, including children, tend to act differently when dressed up. Your child should still be comfortable; there is nothing worse than sitting for hours in a scratchy sweater that makes you hot while in a seat for two hours. However, dressing in nicer clothes will make the experience even more special.
If time permits, and your children are patient enough, staying after the play by the stage door will give your child a chance to see the actors after they have changed out of their costumes. Most will graciously sign an autograph. A poster bought from the merchandise table with the signatures of several of the actors makes a unique and special souvenir that can be framed and hung on the wall of your child’s room.
© 2013 Jason McBride