NYC - The Official Guide

Family-Friendly Broadway Shows

nycgo.com staff
Updated 01/25/2019
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New York City offers plenty of Broadway fare to please younger theatergoers, including Disney adaptations like The Lion King and Frozen and long-running hits such as Wicked. We’ve rounded up a number of Broadway shows that are appropriate for the whole family—young kids excited for their first show, hard-to-please teens and those in between. If you are planning on an evening (or an afternoon matinee) at the theater, be aware that Broadway productions usually require children be at least 4 years old to attend a show. And while we included age guidelines below, you likely know the type of content your child can handle—and how long they can sit still.

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Aladdin. Courtesy, Disney

Aladdin 
Best for: All ages
Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (one intermission)
What happens: Disney fans young and old will surely be familiar with the tale of Aladdin and the genie he releases in the Cave of Wonders. The colorful sets bring the fictional town of Agrabah to life as Aladdin uses his three wishes to woo Princess Jasmine. There are a lot of wow moments throughout the show, including when Aladdin and Jasmine levitate over the stage on a “flying carpet” and when the actors pull off the frenetic, showstopping “Friend Like Me.”

Anastasia. Photo: Matthew Murphy

Anastasia
Best for: Tweens
Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes (one intermission)
What happens: Based on the animated movie from 1997, this musical opens in early 1900s Russia during the reign of the Romanovs. The Bolsheviks arrive, Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna escapes and, years later, two grifters try to pass off a street sweeper with amnesia as the missing girl in an adventure that travels from St. Petersburg to Paris. While not overly violent, the show has scenarios that could upset younger children: the Romanov family is assassinated (offstage), and multiple characters find themselves in mortal danger. There are also sparkling balls, a trip to the ballet and a love story between the could-be Anastasia and one of the grifters.

Dear Evan Hansen. Photo: Matthew Murphy

Dear Evan Hansen 
Best for: Teens
Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (one intermission)
What happens: High school senior Evan Hansen is struggling socially, but a series of events after a classmate’s suicide changes the course of his life seemingly for the better. Hansen, who lies about being friends with the deceased boy, grapples with guilt and maintaining the ruse. With heavy themes including death, deception and viral fame, this musical is not for younger children. There are a lot of talking points for teens, though, who will also connect with the rock score by Oscar and Tony winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.

Frozen. Photo: Deen Van Meer

Frozen 
Best for: All ages
Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes (one intermission)
What happens: This musical follows the plot of the uber-popular film of the same name. As orphaned royal sisters Anna and Elsa emerge from their secluded world inside the palace, Elsa, who is set to take the throne, struggles to suppress her mysterious powers, while younger sister Anna seeks independence (and romance). Disney’s latest Broadway adaptation uses lots of stage trickery to create winter in Arendelle, particularly during the climactic song, “Let It Go.” All the charm of the movie’s nonhuman characters is there as well, including goofy snowman Olaf and put-upon reindeer Sven, operated by puppeteers.   

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Photo: Manuel Harlan

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 
Best for: Tweens and teens
Running time: Part One is 2 hours, 40 minutes, and Part Two is 2 hours, 35 minutes (one intermission in each)
What happens: This two-part, Tony Award–winning play is a continuation of the Harry Potter saga, taking place as the children of the main characters are entering Hogwarts almost two decades after the events of the final book. While enthusiastic Potterheads will be excited to follow the twisting and turning story, the two shows are 5 hours and 15 minutes in total, longer than most younger children can sit quietly, be still and focus.

The Lion King. Photo: Joan Marcus

The Lion King 
Best for: All ages
Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (one intermission)
What happens: After his father’s death, Young Simba is destined to be king, but his evil uncle Scar schemes to dispose of him and claim the pride as his own. The songs and characters from the film will be familiar to young theatergoers who have seen the film, but there are tunes specific to the Broadway show as well. The Lion King doesn’t use special effects to deliver excitement. Instead, that comes courtesy of the astounding costumes, masks and puppetry that will thrill fans young and old, especially during the epic opening number when “animals” roam the aisles.

The Phantom of the Opera. Photo: Matthew Murphy

The Phantom of the Opera 
Best for: Tweens and teens
Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (one intermission)
What happens: Ingenue chorus girl Christine catches the eye of a mysterious man who lives below the opera house and will stop at nothing to make her a star. The fantastical story has thrilled audiences for three decades with scenes that include a crashing chandelier, soaring ballads and a dramatic descent into the Phantom’s underground lair. Young viewers will be enthralled, especially if they crave a story that will be original to them (versus the plot of a movie they may have seen numerous times).

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Wicked. Photo: Joan Marcus

Wicked 
Best for: Tweens
Running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes (one intermission)
What happens: Ever wonder what happened in Oz before Dorothy arrived? This megahit musical tells the backstory of the witches of Oz, specifically the friendship that forms between Glinda (the Good Witch) and Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West). There are a lot of life lessons and girl-power anthems woven in with the spectacular staging, including Glinda’s arrival in a glittering bubble and the Wicked Witch defying gravity on her broom.

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