Have you considered how to introduce your children to musicals? Here are some tips on how to bring musicals to life for your children, whether or not you live near a theater, or watch from the comfort of your own home. Also, check out the musical ratings pages for more information about which musicals are considered family-friendly, and likewise, which should be off-limits for children.
How Young is Too Young?
Children under the age of 4 or 5 would not be advised to see a majority of stage shows. I know of families who hold season tickets to see fairy-tale-based musicals. These fairy-tale shows take place during a matinée, and are geared toward younger children with shorter attention spans.
When considering taking a child to the theatre, always take into consideration these factors:
Length: Stage shows often run over 2 hours, with a 15 minute intermission. Can your child sit still this long, without crying or fussing, and therefore ruining the enjoyment for others?
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Content, Themes, & Bore Factors: Though many shows such as Little Women and The Lion King are tame, these may still be unsuitable for youngsters. Though Little Women may contain no violence, swearing, or innuendo, the story would most likely bore a very young child who cannot understand the plot. The Lion King contains creative violence, the same as in the film, but it can be scary portrayed on the stage. Crying children can take away from the enjoyment for other theatre patrons.
If you child is under the age of 5, it would be advisable that you stick to letting them watch film musicals (which can be paused or stopped) or stage shows that are geared toward their ages, such as matinee shows specifically for younger children.
However, many Broadway theatres don’t allow children under the age of 4 or 5 into the theatres, though there are a few exceptions. For example, you should not take them on the Mouline Rouge Broadway show. You’ll need to check with your local theatre if you’re curious about taking your child to a show that is touring and showing at your local performing arts center. These ages seem to be the average that children are not allowed in, even for most family-friendly musicals. There are a few exceptions, though, so be sure and check before you go!
Be Prepared…(as Scar sings in The Lion King)!
Before you share the experience of a musical with your child, share a bit of background information on the musical. This not only prepares children for what they are about to see, but also will help them to understand and enjoy the musical more fully.
For example, when I was in 8th grade my mother took me to see the stage musical Cats. Weeks before I had learned that the musical was based on a book of poetry, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, by T. S. Eliot. I borrowed the book from the library, and giggled madly for several weeks, thoroughly enjoying the stories behind each cat. When the day came for us to see the musical, I knew a bit more what to expect, and I understood the concept of what was happening.
There may not always be a book or film to refer to, but do your best to prepare your child for the experience, if for nothing else than to help them understand and enjoy it more. You will surely be rewarded by the light in their eyes as they grasp the magic of musicals!
The Musical Possibilities!
Live in the city, or near a theatre? Take your child to a matinee once in a while. Seeing a musical in the spring can start a family tradition! Of course, make sure the musical is appropriate for your child.
Looking for a way to see more musicals for less money? Check out what musicals are being performed at your local high school! More often than not, high school performances put on a quality show, and you can take your whole family for less than it costs for one ticket to a professional show.
Don’t forget to check out your local video store where you can rent dozens of musicals on film. If you want to purchase a specific title, check out Amazon.com for wide selections (and some rarer films) at low prices, or your local retail stores. Investing in classic musicals is a gift that keeps on giving.
Check your local television listings. Musical films are often shown on holidays, as well as shown at random.
Don’t neglect introducing your child to musicals just because you don’t live near a theatre, or cannot afford to buy theatre tickets. Please take advantage of any of the options above, and share this magnificent cultural experience with your children.