The Best Broadway Shows for Kids
Aladdin tells the story of the title character and his pals – the genie, the Princess Jasmine, and the Fire-Eater – as they embark on an epic quest in the swashbuckling Arabian Nights.
Like any musical, Aladdin follows two different tracks in performance. Sometimes it is as simple as the comedy side, which is much better for a kids musical, and other times it takes on some surprisingly thoughtful and stirring topics. Don’t see the second point as a turn off when deciding which musical to take your children to though.
The over the top, escapist delights that we have grown to love in musicals also make for great escapism. This production was packed with talent. The performance is without a doubt the best I have seen.
I would argue that Aladdin is a stronger musical than The Lion King and one that most people would enjoy more than the biggest musical on Broadway. However, that is my personal preference, both of these shows and excellent for kids.
Frozen is already a multi-award winning film, soundtrack, you name it Frozen won it, so can they win over the hearts of our children on the main broadway stage? The short answer is yes!
The song “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” is as good as I have heard either star sing. Even if you are not a fan of their characters’ previous songs, it will be worth you picking up the soundtrack to this song alone.
One of the best parts of the evening was seeing the two main stars with the four kids that were cast as Olaf and Anna’s dwarfs. They were both hilarious and just a blast to watch. The children were definitely the true stars of the night, even if you aren’t a fan of Frozen, this show will have you singing along.
The Lion King
Now we come to the biggest broadway show of them all, The Lion King, it is definitely perfect for the whole family. Well, maybe not a crying baby but that’s up to you if you take a newborn.
Good news is that when you see the movie, you will assume that all of the stories from the movie will be in the musical, which would make the show feel like it didn’t have a beginning, middle, and end. The truth is that in the show, the songs and the story are a bit different than the movie. The story begins with Hakuna Matata from The Lion King.
It can be a great learning stage for young kids as there is a wide range of races, cultures, and characters in The Lion King show. I guess the point is that the story started with a cartoon and is still the template that continues to inform what the musical is trying to be.
What is great about this musical, is that the show is designed with the idea of serving the audience. From the first second of the show to the last, the stage and the stage backdrop are telling the story from beginning to end. There are also some great moments when the humans within the stage design actually tell the story as well. A great example is the moment when we see the humans as cubs.
The music from this musical is also brilliant. The Lion King has music from several composers. One of the biggest strengths of the music is that, from the beginning, it establishes the reality of the story before the music even starts. This really builds anticipation, making you believe that what you are about to hear is something that is real. It then builds the anticipation even more as the music continues to build on its potential and before you know it, you are excited about the music.
The animals behind the scenes work their magic to shock the animals into action. Every set piece has been custom-made to tell the story of these animals. If the story is a bit different than the film, so be it.
The actors in this musical are fantastic. They are the combination of classic animal-theatre actors who are also more modern theater. Everything that the Lion King does is first put on an animal stage, then blended in and then the cast moves into some of the authentic sounds and instruments. I love this show, but at times it does deviate from what it is trying to be. There is a tendency to forget who these animals are. But that is not done intentionally and I found that it was really nice that when the actors were performing the songs from the film, they were performing them all from the perspective of the animals.
The story is different. It is a good change of pace but I’m certain people will fall in love with the show, if they are fans of animal-theatre. The theater is gorgeous, designed for you to enjoy the performance in a relaxing environment.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a sequel. The play tells Harry’s story through the eyes of his son Albus. Harry, Ron, and Hermione reminisce about what would have happened if they had babies, instead of regular old dudes. Hermione reminisces about Harry falling in love with her and their marriage and pushing him towards being the “best of men.”
Ron tries to match his father’s gallantry and courage but doesn’t quite make the same impression. But it’s Albus who serves as the show’s driving force. Harry plays cheerleader for Albus’s budding maturity and lust for physical self-discipline, showing him how best to prepare for the school’s tasks ahead.
Albus knows about that and they aren’t together, so Scorpius tries to take her life in order to impress the school, which doesn’t do much good. The play’s current thread may be a little weak, but this thread needs to return. It’s a great theme for a new author to work with and one we can all learn from. What was wonderful about this play was its seriousness and ability to make us relate to and care about Harry, Hermione, and Ron.
Seeing the books brought to life on stage was the complete opposite of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was fun to see the Chamber of Secrets flashback, featuring Anastasia and Sirius Black, jump off the page and into the theater.
For the Potter superfans who are even more dedicated than I am, I would only recommend this as an option on opening night or to see with groups of 10 or more. That isn’t to say that kids won’t enjoy this show. Depending on their age they would have grown up with Harry Potter, meaning that they will definitely enjoy this new adventure and on the stage.
King Kong, though it had a largely positive reception, is an incredibly fraught, alien, and slouching figure in the story of Kong.
The first minutes of King Kong have me coming out of my seat in unison with the climax, which is where the musical really gets moving. And what King Kong gives me is another masterwork that pushes the boundaries of the genre and does so in a non-familiar and unique way. The immersion of the show is also awesome and is something I’ll be going back to for days and still can’t quite grasp why I love it so much. King Kong is an impressive feat of design and staging by designers, well done for putting on a great show.