Best New Broadway Shows This Season Plus Can't-Miss Classics for Families

Hell's Kitchen is a cool coming-of-age piece loosely based on Alicia Keys' life story. Photo by Marc J. Franklin
Hell's Kitchen is a cool coming-of-age piece loosely based on Alicia Keys' life story. Photo by Marc J. Franklin
5/17/24 - By Raven Snook

Whether you're visiting NYC or live here year-round, taking in a Broadway show is a special family experience. Kids are sure to remember it vividly, and chances are parents won't soon forget the credit card bill. That's why it's important to pick a production wisely, especially when bringing young children to their first Broadway performance.

While Disney juggernauts The Lion King and Aladdin are popular options, there are other kid-friendly choices that aren't as obvious. We've rounded up our top Broadway shows for families and organized them by age appropriateness. Once you've picked a Broadway show, all that's left to do is book tickets. We've got you covered there, too, with these six ways to save on Broadway tickets.

If you're looking for more options, browse our Family Activity Calendar for family shows beyond Broadway, and bookmark our Guide to Children's Theater for reviews and recommendations.


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Book Discount Broadway Tickets on Mommy Poppins

Good news for fans of Mommy Poppins and theater: You can book discount tickets to many of the top productions on Broadway directly from our Family Activity Calendar. Just select the Discount Broadway filter to see all the shows currently available.

Know Before You Go to a Broadway Show

Most Broadway theaters will not admit children under 4, and every audience member needs a ticket regardless of age. Although parents have certainly sneaked preschoolers into productions, you're better off waiting until your kids are old enough to sit silently for long periods. For young children new to live entertainment, start with more interactive offerings like off-Broadway's Gazillion Bubble Show or the lovely productions at the New Victory Theater. You'll save money and, perhaps, your sanity.

RELATED: Score Big Discounts on Broadway Shows During Broadway Week

Best Broadway shows for kids and families: The Lion King
The Lion King is an excellent first Broadway show for elementary schoolers. Photo courtesy of the Disney Theatrical Group

Best Broadway Shows for Kindergartners and Up

1. The Lion King – Minskoff Theatre

This long-running favorite is based on Disney's animated blockbuster about the coming of age of a young cub. I saw it three times when it opened in 1997, long before I became a mom. I've since visited with my daughter in tow, and I'm happy to report that, despite a different cast and theater, it's as thrilling as ever. Directed by Julie Taymor, The Lion King is a low-tech wonder filled with eye-popping puppets, exuberant production numbers, and a gorgeous African-inspired aesthetic. The "Circle of Life" opening as the animals parade down the aisles toward the stage is exhilarating and an ideal way to introduce school-age kids to the magic of Broadway. The Lion King's official recommended minimum age is 6, but a well-behaved 4- or 5-year-old should be fine. Watch the movie in advance and book a matinee.

RELATED: Best Off-Broadway Shows for Kids: Affordable Children's Theater in NYC

Aladdin: Broadway Shows for kids and families
In Aladdin, one lamp and three wishes equal infinite possibilities. Photo by Deen van Meer ©Disney

2. Aladdin – New Amsterdam Theatre

Much as my daughter and I enjoyed Aladdin, this Disney-based hit doesn't deliver the jaw-dropping wonder of The Lion King. The exposition-heavy first half of Act I is slow. However, once the title character uncorks the incredible Genie, the show takes flight on a magic carpet ride. His introductory number, "Friend Like Me," is hilarious and references other famous Broadway songs. And while the character is outrageously funny, he's nothing like Robin Williams in the film (a smart move since the movie role was so specific to the late comedian's talents). The show also boasts some thrilling special effects, including a flying carpet. Aladdin's official recommended minimum age is 6, and it's best to watch the movie in advance and book a matinee.

Broadway Shows for kids and families: Back to the Future: The Miusical
Back to the Future: The Musical is a crowd-pleaser thanks to cool effects and a familiar storyline. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

Best Broadway Shows for Ages 8 and Up

3. Back to the Future: The Musical – Winter Garden Theatre

Yes, the reviews were bad. Yes, it's a retread, not a reinvention, of the movie on stage, with the cast mimicking Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and the other stars of the beloved 1985 movie. No, the new songs don't add much. But there are many reasons why Back to the Future: The Musical is a bona fide crowd-pleaser. The special effects are phenomenal, especially the DeLorean time machine, which (spoiler alert!) hovers above the audience. The amusing story is comfortingly familiar. Families looking for a high-tech, over-the-top, eye-popping musical extravaganza seem to love it. The official recommended minimum age is 6, but frankly, considering the story involves physical bullying and an attempted sexual assault (all from the film), I suggest 8 and older.

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Broadway Shows for kids and families: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Best
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a hit with fans and Muggles alike. Photo by Matthew Murphy

4. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Lyric Theatre

Magical is the word that best describes this breathtaking sequel to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. In The Cursed Child, the boy who lived has become a middle-aged dad to a young wizard who's sick of being in his father's shadow. While the show is a must-see for fans of all ages, even those unfamiliar with the books fall under its spell. The play stands on its own as a self-contained tale (though there are plenty of references throughout that elicit gasps from those in the know), and with separate storylines for kids and parents, it's relatable to all ages. Plus, some of the illusions will have you rubbing your eyes and scratching your head, wondering, how did they do that?! The official recommended minimum age is 8, which seems about right. However, if your younger kids are old enough to have read the books, they should be fine.

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Best Broadway shows for kids and families: Wicked
Wicked gives you a new perspective on the witches from The Wizard of Oz. Photo by Joan Marcus

5. Wicked – Gershwin Theatre

Wizard of Oz-loving kids get a whole new take on Glinda the Good and the so-called Wicked Witch of the West in this stunning musical that shares their backstories as BFFs turned romantic and political rivals. With two strong female protagonists, it features lots of girl power, not to mention powerhouse songs by Stephen Schwartz, such as the Act I closer "Defying Gravity." The costumes and sets are amazing—especially the massive dragon hanging above the stage—and the moral that you should never judge a person by their skin color is poignant. Wicked's official recommended minimum age is 8, which makes sense because the show runs nearly three hours and has a few scary moments. Note: Children under 5 will not be admitted.

Best Broadway shows for kids: & Juliet
& Juliet turns Shakespeare's classic tale on its head with plenty of girl power. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Best Broadway Shows for Tweens and Teens

6. & Juliet – Stephen Sondheim Theatre

You may not recognize the name Max Martin but you certainly know his work: He's co-written hits for Britney Spears ("Oops I Did It Again," "Baby One More Time"), the Backstreet Boys ("Larger Than Life," "I Want it That Way," "Shape of My Heart"), Céline Dion ("That's the Way It Is"), NSYNC ("It's Gonna Be Me"), and Katy Perry ("Roar," "I Kissed a Girl," "Teenage Dream"). All those numbers and more are featured in & Juliet, a jukebox musical smash that changes the fate of Shakespeare's tragic heroine as she skips suicide and goes on an empowering journey of self-discovery. With the clever recontextualizing of familiar songs, a hilarious script by a Schitt's Creek writer, and a contemporary story centering on women and LGBTQ characters, & Juliet is one of the hottest tickets in town. Although the official recommended minimum age is 8, I think it's best for middle and high schoolers given its themes of love and identity.

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Hadestown: Best Broadway shows for kids and families
Hadestown is a folk-rock reimagining of Greek mythology. Photo by Evan Zimmerman

7. Hadestown – Walter Kerr Theatre

Anaïs Mitchell's evocative, folk-rock reimagining of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is short on plot but overflows with creativity. Seemingly set during the Great Depression, the musical chronicles the couple's ill-fated romance as she heads down to Hadestown to work in the mines with her crooning lover hot on her heels. Inventively produced with an on-stage band and a top-notch cast that slays the bluesy score, this unconventional tuner is utterly captivating, attracting crowds of angsty adolescents who love its inevitable unhappy ending. Although the official recommended minimum age is 8, I think you've got to be past your first crush to really care. It's definitely the saddest love story on Broadway.

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Best Broadway shows for kids and families: Hamilton
The Founding Fathers rap for the revolution in the smash hit Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus

8. Hamilton – Richard Rodgers Theatre

Do I really need to tell you about Lin-Manuel Miranda's historical hip-hop blockbuster? Chances are if you have tweens, they already know all the lyrics by heart and have watched the stage capture of the original cast on Disney+ countless times. Yes, it's long (almost three hours), and yes, it deals with some pretty dense subject matter (the American Revolution and the birth of our nation), and yes, there is some profanity. But it's an exhilarating and educational experience for ages 10 and up. Even though Miranda and the rest of the original cast left years ago, this is still an expensive ticket. If you don't want to pay through the nose, try your luck with the $10 digital lottery (hey, you never know!). Bonus: Enhance your Hamilton experience by visiting these five NYC sites related to Alexander Hamilton's legacy.

9. Hell's Kitchen – Shubert Theatre

Alicia Keys' hits power this coming-of-age tale of a talented teen in '90s NYC pursuing her passion for piano and an older man while clashing with her protective single mom. Loosely based on the Grammy-winning pop star's own life, Hell's Kitchen is absolutely electrifying, conjuring a diverse and vibrant Manhattan community through exhilarating street dance and Keys' popular songs, which are performed by a powerhouse cast. Admittedly, the story isn't exactly fresh, but you'll be having so much fun you won't care. And the fraught mother-daughter relationship is genuinely touching. To paraphrase Keys, this show is on fire! Although the show's official recommended minimum age is 8 and up, it explores mature topics, including sex and police violence, so I suggest 10 and older.

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Best Broadway shows for kids and families : MJ the Musical
MJ the Musical delivers Michael Jackson's signature moves. Photo by Matthew Murphy

10. MJ the Musical – Neil Simon Theatre

I admit, I walked into this bio-musical about Michael Jackson a skeptic. As much as my family and I enjoy his songs, I worried I would think about the horrible accusations against him the entire time. But I was able to set those aside temporarily thanks to the show's incredible singing and dancing. Set during the creation of Jackson's 1992 Dangerous World Tour, the musical shows that he was a deeply flawed man with many problems, some of which are acknowledged (his addiction to painkillers, his perfectionism at all costs, his inability to hear the word "no"), while others are glossed over (it's set before the abuse allegations but there are still a few lines obliquely alluding to it). But this isn't an intense examination of a troubled genius. It's a celebration of all he created and the boundaries he broke—his music transcended so many, including race, class, and genre. If your tween's face lights up at the first few notes of "Thriller," you will not be disappointed. Although the official recommended minimum age is 8, I suggest middle school and up since there are scenes of Jackson being physically abused by his father.

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Broadway Shows for kids and families: The Outsiders
The Outsiders brings the famous small-town story to Broadway's big stage. Photo by Matthew Murphy

11. The Outsiders – Bernard B Jacobs Theatre

S.E. Hinton's timeless coming-of-age novel The Outsiders has been a staple of middle-school reading lists for decades. Told from the point of view of Ponyboy, a sensitive, 14-year-old orphan being raised by his older brothers, it's a compelling tale of the violent rivalry between the working-class Greasers and the well-to-do Socs in 1960s Tulsa. This literary classic has been turned into a thoughtful and achingly sincere musical, with evocative songs by the folk duo Jamestown Revival and thrilling direction by Danya Taymor, niece of Julie Taymor of Lion King fame (talent runs in the family!) The show boasts strong performances and some of the most incredible and realistic stage combat I have ever seen. The official recommended age minimum is 10 and older, which seems about right.

Best Broadway shows for kids and families: SIX
Crooning queens fight for the spotlight in the pop-powered SIX. Photo by Joan Marcus

12. SIX – Brooks Atkinson Theatre

If you've got a musical-loving adolescent in your life, you've probably heard all about this international sensation, a history-inspired concert in which Henry VIII's bedazzled wives belt out catchy pop songs about their dramatic lives with the moody monarch. Written by newcomers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, SIX boasted a viral studio cast recording and multiple global productions before it arrived on Broadway. The conceit may sound gimmicky, but its execution is impressively effective. It's smart, entertaining, and, in centering the queens instead of the absent king, unabashedly feminist. Plus the all-women on-stage band seriously rocks! The official recommended minimum age is 10, which is spot-on.

Best Broadway shows for kids and families : Suffs
Suffs celebrates the female activists who fought for the right to vote. Photo by Joan Marcus

13. Suffs – Music Box Theatre

Another female-forward musical, Suffs celebrates the diverse array of activists in the American suffrage movement as they fight for the passage of the 19th Amendment, which won women the right to vote in 1920. My daughter and I have seen it twice and were so moved, we cried almost the entire time. Just listen to this gorgeous song! Since the history-inspired show was written by and stars a multi-talented artist, Shaina Taub, it's frequently compared to Hamilton, but the similarities are superficial. This is a much more old-fashioned, though still absolutely fabulous, musical about radical feminists you may know little about. Their unsung story is uplifting and eye-opening, and performed by an all-women and nonbinary cast. Even the producers are women and include Hillary Clinton. The official recommended minimum age is 10, which makes sense.

Best Broadway shows for kids and families: Water for Elephants
Against all odds, a veterinary student and a beautiful circus performer, meet and fall in love in Water for Elephants. Photo by Matthew Murphy

14. Water for Elephants – Imperial Theatre

Inspired by Sara Gruen's beloved book of the same name, the musical Water for Elephants centers on a broke veterinary student who runs away with the circus during the Great Depression. A love triangle ensues but kids will care more about the amazing acrobatic feats threaded throughout the production along with the adorable puppets, including an awesome elephant. The story explores both animal and domestic abuse so it may be scary for younger kids. The official recommended minimum age is 8 but I think 10 is more appropriate. My trapeze-obsessed teen loved it!

15. The Wiz – Marquis Theatre

Closes August 18, 2024.
Everybody rejoice, The Wiz is back! In the 1970s, this all-Black reinvention of The Wizard of Oz won seven Tony Awards and spawned the hits "Ease on Down the Road" and "Home." Yet the show hasn't been seen on Broadway in 40 years. Unfortunately, this revival is a touring production in town for a limited time. Design-wise, it leaves something to be desired—the sets are particularly underwhelming. But Charlie Smalls' funk and R&B songs are still glorious, and there are many standout performers, including Wayne Brady as The Wizard (through June 12), pop star Deborah Cox as Glinda and 24-year-old newcomer Nichelle Lewis as Dorothy. Plus late-night comedian Amber Ruffin has made some amusing updates to the script, though she also cut Toto. It may be four decades until this classic comes around again so ease on down before it's gone.

This article is updated regularly.

Places featured in this article:

The Lion King at the Minskoff Theatre

Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theatre

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Lyric Theatre

Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre

Hadestown at the Walter Kerr Theatre

Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre

SIX at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre

MJ the Musical at the Neil Simon Theatre

& Juliet at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre

Back to the Future: The Musical at the Winter Garden Theatre

The Wiz at the Marquis Theatre

Suffs at the Music Box Theatre

The Outsiders at the Bernard B Jacobs Theatre

Water for Elephants at the Imperial Theatre

Hell's Kitchen at the Shubert Theatre