This Saturday is looking to be dreary, cold, and wet…perfect for an afternoon at the theater, where you can snuggle up with your kids and forget all about the bad weather. Luckily, no other city has as many family-friendly theater options that get children’s theatrical feet wet without making the grown-ups groan as NYC. And unlike most of the Broadway biggies (The Lion King, Wicked, Aladdin, and School of Rock), you can often get same-day tickets to these family shows without spending a gazillion dollars. Add lunch before or after and you’ve got a cozy, warm, and entertaining afternoon.
This season, my family and I will warming up by the hot stage lights at one or two of these awesome shows.
Blue Man Group at Astor Place Theatre
What Should We Do?! founder Arielle Tepper took her kids to this iconic NYC show one rainy afternoon. “This is definitely not a stuffy theater experience,” she says. “My kids loved it. Their favorite part was the big ‘toilet paper’ finale.” Ari recommends sitting in the first few rows, known as the Poncho Zone, where you’ll be sprayed with water, mist, nontoxic paint, glitter, and, yep, plenty of TP. Ages 3 and up are welcome, but the experience could be overwhelming for kids under 6.
Beauty and the Beast at New Victory Theater
The New Vic is the gold standard for kid-friendly theater in the city; New York families are lucky to have access to such creative and high-quality productions, which they can pair with pre- and postshow family activities. If you’ve never seen a show here, the latest offering is the perfect introduction: a lively, jazz-scored rendition of the classic fairy tale from a multinational theater troupe. All ages.
Puffs at New World Stages
Odds are you’ve got a Harry Potter fan in your family. In which case, definitely take him or her to this very funny satire (made with utmost respect to the J.K. Rowling series) about the overlooked Hufflepuffs. Ages 8 and up.
Show Up, Kids! at Kraine Theater
Do your kids want to direct? Bring them to this adorable theater, because, when the main attraction doesn’t show up (no spoiler alert—they never do!), actor and show creator Peter Michael Marino solicits help from the kids in the audience to come up with a new comedy. Ages 3–10.
Not My Monster at the Flea
Young theatergoers love being close to the actors at this charming, intimate space in Tribeca, where the kid-focused Cereals program produces “ethnically and culturally specific interpretations of folktales written in 10-minute installments.” The current show is based on Russian folklore about helpful household spirits. Ages 3–10.
That Physics Show/That Chemistry Show at the Playroom Theater
What Should We Do?!’s own head of client experiences, Carolyn Innocenzi, brought her 9-year-old son to this Drama Desk Award–winning physics show and said it was a perfect family experience: “My son loved the experiments, and this sparked his curiosity for delving more into science. It’s educational but also thoroughly entertaining!” Ages 6 and up.
Gazillion Bubble Show at New World Stages
Fact: Kids love bubbles. Indulge their delight with, well, gazillions of the effervescent orbs. Combined with laser lighting effects and dramatic music, this is an awe-inducing show for most (but might be sensory overload for others). Ages 2 and up.
Stomp at Orpheum Theatre
You might want to hide your brooms and trash-can lids when you get home from this boisterous show, where those household items—and many others—are used to loud, rhythmic effect. Inspired by the beat of the streets, Stomp is a percussive performance that all New Yorkers should see. Ages 4 and up.