Do Life Well

Do Life Well: A Theatrical Adventure With Your Kids

Three ideas for special matinee-and-a-meal afternoons with your children from WSWD’s founder, Arielle Tepper Madover.

“Once on This Island.” / Photo by Joan Marcus

For a Broadway producer whose office is actually on Broadway, I don’t get to spend as much time enjoying “Broadway” as I’d like. So every once in a while, I plan a full day of theater and Times Square fun with my kids. Introducing Izzy, 16, Jonah, 10, and Sasha, 8, to live theater is important to me, and it’s also just so much fun to watch a show through their eyes.

Matinees are my favorite way to do it; the adults at afternoon performances aren’t as fussy (there’s much less “shushing”) and the kids aren’t as tired. Plus, winter is prime matinee season. In my opinion, cold and/or rainy days are made for theater; inside, you can cozy up with your kids and forget all about the bad weather outside. We go for a fun lunch beforehand, and the afternoon becomes an incredible memory.

Our experience advisers can recommend restaurants and shows—SpongeBob SquarePants, Wicked, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and Come From Away are great options, depending on the age of your kids—and book your reservations and tickets. If the forecast calls for freezing temps or rain, get in touch! We know how to secure affordable, last-minute tickets as well.

This past year, my kids and I shared three really special lunch-and-a-show days. Hope they inspire you to do the same!

The Palm & Once on This Island

Recently, my youngest daughter, Sasha, and I had a fabulous day with my friend Julie and her two girls. We started at The Palm on West 50th Street for lunch, where Sasha was very excited to find me on the wall. The steakhouse is such a classic theater-crowd place and it’s always special to share a bit of my world—especially the glamorous side—with Sasha. Plus, it’s fun to see children who are used to eating pizza and mac and cheese indulge in the city’s best steak and lobster. When their meals came, the table went silent for a good five minutes—a rarity with kids! We ordered dessert, too, of course; the bag of warm doughnuts with chocolate and raspberry sauce was the girls’ favorite. (As always, The Palm was wonderful about accommodating my food allergies.)

arielle tepper madover Mom and Me Date
Photo Courtesy of The Palm

After lunch, we headed to the Circle in the Square Theatre to see Julie’s favorite show, Once on This Island a musical about love and cultural differences in the Caribbean, starring the incredible Lea Salonga. The fact that my kids can just take the subway or a taxi to see the best performers and storytellers in the world is part of why I’ve never left New York City (and never will!).

arielle tepper madover Mom and Me Date
“Once on This Island.” / Photo by Joan Marcus

Gemma & Blue Man Group

Though it’s not Broadway, Blue Man Group is such an iconic NYC show that it has a place among some of the biggest Broadway musicals and plays as a must-see for all New Yorkers—especially kids! It was pouring the day I took Jonah and Sasha (and another family friend) to see it, but we sat in the first few rows—which I suggest you do, too—and needed to wear ponchos anyway! In the Poncho Zone, you’re sprayed with water, mist, nontoxic paint, and glitter. This is definitely not a stuffy theater experience, and my kids loved it. Their favorite part was the big “toilet paper” finale.

arielle tepper madover Mom and Me Date
In the Poncho Zone at “Blue Man Group.”

Beforehand, we had lunch at Gemma, a warm and intimate trattoria inside the Bowery Hotel, only a few blocks away—also a perfect pick for a less-than-perfect weather day. My son raved about the hamburger, and there are plenty of pastas and pizzas on the menu to keep picky eaters happy. Or skip the mains entirely and go straight for the tiramisu, gelato, and Nutella-filled calzones. Major kid points!

arielle tepper madover Mom and Me Date
Gemma. / Photo by Annie Schlechter

Limani & Frozen

The Disney blockbuster Frozen has its Broadway debut in February, but I got a lucky chance to see it this past summer in Denver. The show’s director, Michael Grandage, and his husband, Christopher Oram, the set and costume designer, are very good friends of mine from years of working together. The three of us have collaborated on many shows (Frost/Nixon, Hamlet, Red, and They Are Good Friends, to name a few), so I wanted to support them…and, OK, treat my daughter to a sneak peek of the theatrical version of my and (maybe) her favorite musical movie. We absolutely adored it and can’t wait to see it again in NYC. Yes, it will return you to the days of 2013 when the kids in your house (and me, too) sang “Let It Go” all day, every day, but it’s so worth it—and it was worth the trip to Colorado, too, as we got to start exploring for a WSWD Colorado!

When it arrives at the St. James Theatre on Broadway, we are planning to take the whole family and eat lunch before the show at Limani, a dazzling Greek-Mediterranean restaurant in Rockefeller Plaza. We all love Greek food (the kids order saganaki every time), and this is one of our favorite spots. Plus, the sleek all-white space, anchored by a gorgeous cerulean reflecting pool, feels otherworldly; it’s a bit like dining in one of Elsa’s icy palaces.

arielle tepper madover Mom and Me Date
Photo courtesy of Limani

Ready to do life well? We can customize the perfect live-it-up day for you and the kids.