Broadway Reopening: What You Need to Know About Broadway Shows 2021 for Kids

In Aladdin, one lamp and three wishes make infinite possibilities. Photo courtesy of the Disney Theatrical Group
In Aladdin, one lamp and three wishes make infinite possibilities. Photo courtesy of the Disney Theatrical Group

Excited that Broadway is reopening? We've got all the info on family-friendly Broadway shows in 2021, plus details on how to score Broadway tickets this year and the COVID protocols necessary to get in the door. Whether you're visiting NYC or live here year-round, seeing 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. As a bonus, we've also got the scoop on how to save big bucks on tickets to some of our picks.

If you're looking for more performing arts options, peruse our Activity Calendar for additional family theater performances and bookmark our Guide to Children's Theater for reviews and recommendations.

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COVID Protocols as Broadway Shows Reopen

Currently, all audience members ages 12+ must show proof of full vaccination with a WHO or FDA authorized vaccine—that is they must be two weeks removed from their second dose in a two-dose regimen or it must be 14-days after a single-dose vaccine. Currently, theatergoers ages 5-11 may enter the theater by showing proof of one vaccine dose and must be accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult. Beginning Saturday, January 29, 2022, children ages 5-11 will need proof of full vaccination. Children under age 5 may attend with a vaccinated adult by showing proof of a negative COVID test. A PCR test taken within 72 hours or an antigen test within the past six hours, with results clearly showing the test's date and time suffices. Once you're in the theater, everyone must be masked except when eating or drinking in designated areas. These requirements are in place through Saturday, April 30, 2022, when the policies will be reviewed. Bookmark The Broadway League's COVID Policy Page for the most up-to-date information.

Before splurging on tickets to a Broadway show, remember the official minimum age at theaters is 4, and every audience member needs a ticket. 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, which opens its season in early November. You'll save money and, perhaps, your sanity.

The Lion King on Broadway
The Lion King is an excellent first Broadway show for elementary schoolers. Photo courtesy of the Disney Theatrical Group

Best Broadway Shows for Kindergarten and Up

The Lion King

Minskoff Theatre
This long-running Tony-winning musical 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, and this was long before I became a mom. However, 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. 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.


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 (which was a smart move, as 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. Absolutely no one under the age of 4 will be admitted during the initial reopening.

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The cast of Harry Potter returst to Broadway in November
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a hit with fans and Muggles alike. Photo by Manuel Harlan

Best Broadway Shows for Ages 8 and Up

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Lyric Theatre
Magical is the word that best describes this eye-popping 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 living in his father's shadow. While the show is a must 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 the kids and the 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?! Formerly a two-part play, its Broadway return is marked by a transformation into one, streamlined show. Recommended for ages 10 and up, but if your kids are old enough to have read the books, they'll be fine.

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Mrs. Doubtfire on Broadway
Mrs. Doubtfire finally arrives on Broadway this fall. Photo by Joan Marcus

Mrs. Doubtfire

On hiatus through Monday, March 14, 2022
Stephen Sondheim Theatre
Based on the movie of the same name starring Robin Williams, Mrs. Doubtfire is a musical comedy about Daniel Hillard, a struggling, out-of-work actor who will do anything for his kids. After losing custody in a messy divorce, he creates the kindly alter ego of Scottish nanny Euphegenia Doubtfire in a desperate attempt to stay in their lives. In the process, Daniel learns what it means to be a father and the meaning of family. Recommended for 8 and up.

Glinda and Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway
Wicked gives you a new perspective on the witches from The Wizard of Oz. Photo by Joan Marcus


Gershwin Theatre
Wizard of Oz-loving kids get a whole new take on Glinda the Good and the so-called Wicked Witch 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.

Best Broadway Shows for Tweens and Teens

Freestyle Love Supreme

Reopens Thursday, October 7
Booth Theatre
If you love Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton, you'll love his latest Broadway hit, Freestyle Love Supreme. The show is an improvisational hip-hop performance, where performers rap, dance, sing, riff, beatbox, and create musical numbers based on audience suggestions. Every show is a little different depending on the audience and its rotating cast of performers. This is live performance at its best. It's raucous, funny, inspiring, and yes, a little raunchy. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Final performance at the Shubert Theatre on Sunday, January 16; the show plans to reopen at the Belasco Theatre on Wednesday, June 1, 2022
The only non-musical in this roundup, Aaron Sorkin's exhilarating stage adaptation of Harper Lee's seminal 1960 novel is a must-see for fans. Admittedly, he takes great liberties with the structure, having Scout, Gem, and Dill share narration duties as they tell the story like a memory play. But it's a dramatically sound decision that really packs an emotional wallop as this well-known tale of lawyer Atticus Finch—played by Jeff Daniels, who is reprising his role for the reopening—fighting racism in the Jim Crow South unfolds. Because of terrifying scenes of bigotry, copious use of the N-word, talk of rape, and an almost three-hour running time, this show is best for high schoolers. Reading the book or watching the Gregory Peck movie in advance really helps enhance the experience as you see how Sorkin brilliantly changed the narrative to suit the new medium.

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Come From Away on Broadway
Experience the remarkable true story of a small town that welcomed visitors from around the world on 9/11 in Come From Away. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Come From Away

Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
My daughter and I fell completely in love with this uplifting, history-based musical about how the residents of Gander, Newfoundland, opened their homes and their hearts to the 7,000 plane passengers diverted there on 9/11. For a few fraught days when the U.S. airspace temporarily closed, the small town almost doubled in size as its inhabitants cared for and comforted stranded passengers. A cast of 12 adeptly plays dozens of characters and croons the Celtic-infused tunes. I understand if the idea of a 9/11 musical gives you pause, but the terrorist attacks are the backdrop, not the focus, and this incredible true story (based on extensive interviews with people who were there) might just reaffirm your faith in humanity. The official recommended minimum age is 10.


Walter Kerr Theatre
Anaïs Mitchell's evocative, folk-rock reimagining of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is short on plot but overflows with creativity. Set during the Great Depression, the musical chronicles the ill-fated romance of the young couple as she heads down to Hadestown to work in the mines with her crooning lover hot on her heels. Inventively staged with an onstage 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 it's recommended for ages 8 and up, I think you've got to be past your first crush to really care. It's definitely the saddest love story on Broadway.

Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway
Expect tough subjects—suicide, bullying, and more—but also searing performances at Dear Evan Hansen. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Dear Evan Hansen

Music Box Theatre
Best for teens (12 is the recommended minimum age), this intense tuner touches on a slew of hot-button topics, including adolescent suicide, depression, bullying, class differences, and the impact of social media on all our lives. Phew! Yet, despite its heavy and complex story about an anxiety-ridden loner who's mistaken as the best friend of a classmate who killed himself, Dear Evan Hansen is surprisingly entertaining, even when it's tearing your heart out. My daughter was 11 when we went to see it, and while she was too young to completely relate, she enjoyed the pop-rock songs and the searing performances, and it certainly sparked a few important conversations. It's a tough ticket, but if you've got a high-schooler in your household, it's a must-see.

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Hamilton is a smash hit on Broadway
Our Founding Fathers rap for the revolution in the smash hit Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus


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. 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 if you can manage to snag seats, 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 one of the toughest tickets in town. Lots of theater sites have published Hamilton ticket tips, but honestly, the best way to get them is to enter the $10 digital lottery daily (hey, you never know!), mortgage your house to buy seriously marked-up resale tickets on Ticketmaster, or sign up for the show's email list to find out when a new block of tickets goes on sale. If you act quickly, you may be able to get seats at face value. Bonus: You can enhance your Hamilton experience by visiting these five NYC sites related to Alexander Hamilton's legacy.

How to Save Money on Broadway Tickets

There are many sites that list discount codes for select Broadway shows year-round, which can be used to purchase seats online or over the phone. If possible, print out the offer and bring it to the box office to avoid service fees. Popular sites include BroadwayBox, TheaterMania, and Playbill. If you go to NYC theater regularly, it's worth finding out if you're eligible to join TDF (Hint: All kids qualify!), which offers deeply discounted tickets to shows on Broadway and off.

For last-minute deals, wait at one of NYC's TKTS by TDF Discount Booths to buy same-day theater tickets at up to 50 percent off. Or try the app TodayTix, which offers discounted and full-price seats, and handles the online lotteries for some Broadway shows. Playbill also has a comprehensive rush, lottery, standing-room-only (SRO), and student ticket list that's frequently updated. Most lotteries are done online, so you don't even have to leave the house to enter.

While the following discount programs haven't yet announced a post-pandemic return (Fingers crossed!), we're including them so they're on your radar for the future:

Broadway Week: You can snag two-for-one tickets to a host of Broadway shows thanks to this biannual deal, which (despite its name) typically takes place for three weeks in January/February and September/October. Many shows sell out within minutes, so you need to log on right at 10:30am the first day tickets go on sale. Seating restrictions and black-out dates apply. To avoid additional fees, go directly to the box office if possible. To find out when Broadway Week tickets go on sale, sign up at the official website.

Kids' Night on Broadway: Another two-for-one Broadway ticket deal, this one is specifically for families. Buy one full-price adult ticket to a kid-friendly show and snag a FREE child's seat (ages 6-18). Kids' Night on Broadway typically takes place on a weeknight in February, with tickets going on sale in December. Sign up for the Broadway Fan Club to get on the info list.

This article is updated regularly.

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