The spring is always a great time for family theater, but the next few months look particularly exciting. There are page-to-stage adaptations of young-adult favorites (The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, Anne of Green Gables); wordless spectacles to captivate all ages (Snap, Cirque du Soleil's new extravaganza); and a few thought-provoking choices for young teens (The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer, Silent Voices: Lovestate).
While on Broadway it's all Beetlejuice and Be More Chill, there's no need to shell out big bucks to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. Most of the 22 shows we're spotlighting are just $25—or less—per ticket.
Atlantic for Kids present Last Stop at Market Street. Photo by Ahron R. Foster
Last Stop on Market Street — Chelsea
Saturday, March 23 through Sunday, April 13
Ages 4 and older
Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson's 2016 Newbery Medal-winning picture book comes alive at Atlantic for Kids. A heartwarming and perspective-expanding tale about a young boy who learns to appreciate the magic of everyday life—like rainstorms, street musicians and just chatting with your grandma—the musical features original hip-hop and R&B songs co-written by Motown great Lamont Dozier (who worked on hits such as "Heatwave" and "Where Did Our Love Go" back in the day) and his son, Paris. The duo previously collaborated on the fantastic Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, which ran at Atlantic five years ago, so we have high, toe-tappin' hopes for this one! Note: There's a relaxed performance for audiences with sensory sensitivities on Saturday, April 6.
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The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. Photo by Jeremy Daniel
The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical — Upper West Side
Thursday, March 28 through Sunday, March 31
Ages 8 and older
We loved this rollicking musicalization of Rick Riordan's YA favorite The Lightning Thief when it played Off-Broadway a few years ago. Now it's back for a brief run at the Beacon Theatre. You don't need to know the book series to follow the adventures of a 12-year-old modern-day demigod who overcomes challenges both mythical (Medusa, Hades, the Furies) and earthbound (dyslexia, ADD) to rescue his mom...with a little help from his powerful pals, of course. After seeing this funny and fast-paced tuner, featuring catchy pop songs, cool effects, and relatable tweenage angst, don't be surprised if your kids ask to hit the bookstore on the way home to pick up a copy of the novel. And longtime fans, take heart: This show is way better than those two terrible movies.
The World Inside Me at the New Victory Theater. Photo by Charles Osgood
The World Inside Me — Midtown West
Friday, March 29 through Sunday, April 7
Ages 0 to 4
Created by Brooklyn's Spellbound Theatre, which specializes in interactive experiences for the under-five set, this roughly half-hour show at the New Victory Theater invites tots to explore their evolving bodies through play. A performer croons soothing songs as the cast engages very young audiences with props, games, and multisensory activities designed to help them understand how they're growing. There are actually two different versions of this show: one for babies (ages 0 to 2) and the other for toddlers (ages 2 to 4), with adjustments to meet each age range at the appropriate developmental level.
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The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer at LC Kids. Photo by Michelle Robin Anderson
The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer — Lincoln Square
Saturday, March 30 through Sunday, March 31
Ages 12 and older
An adult hit at FringeNYC, this award-winning multimedia show will expand your family's definition of theater. Puppetry, animation, music, and live performance are used to conjure a world post-environmental apocalypse, as an intrepid explorer vows to save the human race by finding us a new home under the ocean. I highly recommend watching this teaser video, which gives you a sense of how unique this experience is. While the breathtaking visuals and clever effects could engage much younger children, LC Kids recommends this production for ages 12 and up, presumably due to the scary nature of a story about how we're destroying the planet. But parents, use your best judgment. After all, many middle-schoolers are walking out of classes to protest the lack of global government action on climate change!
This Is Sadie — Midtown West
Saturday, March 30 through Sunday, April 21
Ages 3 to 8
Bask in the power of imagination at New York City Children's Theater's new dance-theater show, inspired by Sara O’Leary's picture book of the same name. Six-year-old Sadie and her stuffed animal BFF can go anywhere they want in the world without ever leaving home. The target audience of tots should certainly relate! Arrive early for pre-performance activities and pose for pics with the cast before heading home.
Bindlestiff Cavalcade of Youth. Photo by Zach P. Neven
Bindlestiff Cavalcade of Youth — Coney Island, Brooklyn
Sunday, March 31
Ages 3 and older
Kids can run away and join the circus (or just watch) at the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus' biannual youth variety show at Coney Island USA. All of the performers in this one-day-only showcase are younger than age 21, and children love seeing their peers on stage juggling, hula hooping, tumbling, clowning, plate spinning, and even snake charming. Is your kid more interested in being in the spotlight than sitting on the sidelines? Find out how your kid can apply to be part of the show.
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The Three Dolls at La MaMa Kids. Photo courtesy of Jane Catherine Shaw
The Three Dolls — East Village
Sunday, March 31 through Sunday, April 7
Ages 4 and older
Puppet master Jane Catherine Shaw is behind this "modern American musical folk tale" about a trio of dolls living in the dark who worry the sun has abandoned them. Whimsically costumed live actors play the dolls, but object and shadow puppetry is used throughout this La MaMa Kids production, which celebrates friendship, teamwork, and looking for the light.
Scurry — Lincoln Square
Saturday, April 6 through Sunday, April 14
Ages 2 to 5
One of NYC's most innovative theater companies for young audiences, Trusty Sidekick, is behind this LC Kids world premiere, which gently introduces preschoolers to the concepts of loss and change. Three squirrel pals are literal party animals, frequently gathering to celebrate their friendship. But one day one of the gang doesn't show up; instead, there's a stranger in his place. Will the group shun or welcome this new addition? Note: There are relaxed performances for audiences with sensory sensitivities on April 7 and 14.
Snap at the New Victory Theater. Photo by Taewon Kim
Snap — Midtown West
Friday, April 12 through Sunday, April 28
Ages 6 and older
Get ready to have your mind blown. These South Korean magicians confound your senses as they perform a wide array of tricks, including sly sleight of hand, impossible illusions, and Chaplin-style physical comedy. It's inspiring to see these wizards at work!
Paw Patrol Live! Race to the Rescue. Photo courtesy of VStar Entertainment
PAW Patrol Live!: Race to the Rescue — Midtown West
Saturday, April 13 and Sunday, April 14
Ages 18 months to 6 years
Attention parents of little ones who are big fans of this popular Nick Jr. show: Catch the puppy heroes live on stage at Madison Square Garden in this music-filled production. It's the day of the Great Adventure Bay Race, but when Mayor Goodway goes missing, Ryder and his canine pals team up to find him and stop his nemesis, Foggy Bottom's Mayor Humdinger, from cheating his way to a win. We enjoyed this touring production when we saw it a few years back. If you really want to show your puppy love, consider splurging on the VIP package, which includes premium seating, a souvenir gift, and a post-performance meet and greet with Ryder and two of his furry friends.
The Last Coin by Spellbound Theatre. Photo courtesy of Spellbound Theatre
The Last Coin — Park Slope, Brooklyn
Saturday, April 27
Ages 0 to 5
Another inventive show for very young audiences by Spellbound Theatre at Old Stone House, The Last Coin proves you don't need a book to read a story! When a narrator finds a page torn out of her book about three princes vying to command a kingdom, she improvises with the help of her trusty stage manager and the tots watching. Preschoolers will love being able to help get to the ending of this sweet and clever tale.
Anne of Green Gables at the Queens Theatre. Photo courtesy of Artspower National Touring Theatre
Anne of Green Gables — Corona, Queens
Sunday, April 28
Ages 7 to 12
Lucy Maud Montgomery's iconic children's novel comes to life at the Queens Theatre. This hour-long musical centers on the titular 11-year-old orphan, who's sent to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a pair of siblings in need of a boy to work on their farm at the turn of the 20th century. At first they don't know what to do with the feisty Anne, but you can be sure that, by the end, they fall for this imaginative child, as will all the tweens in the audience. Note: There's a relaxed performance for audiences with sensory sensitivities at 3pm on April 28.
Silent Voices: Lovestate at the New Victory Theater. Photo by Julienne Schaer
Silent Voices: Lovestate — Midtown West
Thursday, May 2 through Sunday, May 5
Ages 12 and older
Every season, the little-kid-centric New Victory Theater presents a production just for teens, and this one sounds particularly thought-provoking. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus performs numbers by a host of wildly different songwriters, including Nico Muhly, Toshi Reagon, Shaina Taub, and Pulitzer Prize winners David Lang and Caroline Shaw, that explore urgent issues such as racism, sexism, identity, and acceptance. More of a concert than a show, the 70-minute performance features first-person testimony from members of the choir, as they preach about their own adolescent struggles and how we can build a more inclusive future.
Cirque du Soleil: Luzia. Photo by Matt Beard
Cirque du Soleil: Luzia — Corona, Queens
Friday, May 3 through Sunday, June 9
Ages 5 and older
Like all Cirque du Soleil extravaganzas, the circus troupe's latest production at CitiField has a colorful setting and theme: a so-called "imaginary Mexico" where audiences will experience surreal scenes as if in a waking dream. Alrighty then! The fact is, audiences aren't there for the plot; we come to see the over-the-top design and heart-stopping feats of skill as acrobats and aerialists defy gravity and push their bodies in to the limit. With Ringling gone, Cirque du Soleil is, without a doubt, the greatest sensory-overload circus show on Earth.
Shhh…Bang! at LC Kids. Photo by Ludovic des Cognets
Shh...Bang! — Lincoln Square
Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5
Ages 2 to 5
A pair of clowns explore silence and noise in this wordless and whimsical dance-theater piece at LC Kids. Movements such as tip-toeing and jumping spark a variety of audible reactions, like whooshes, boings, and bells. Eventually, tots are invited to play in this soundscape, too. Note: There's a relaxed performance for audiences with sensory sensitivities on Sunday, May 5.
Around the World in 80 Days at the New Victory Theater. Photo by Robert Day
Around the World in 80 Days — Midtown West
Friday May 10 through Sunday, May 19
Ages 7 and older
Seasoned playwright Laura Eason (who wrote for Netflix's House of Cards) penned this stage adaptation of Jules Verne's classic novel about two pals racing against the clock to journey across the globe. This New Victory Theater production eschews high-tech special effects in favor of clever storytelling theater techniques, as comical and heart-thumping adventures are conjured with a few props, evocative staging, and lots of imagination. Encourage your kids to read the book first!
Shh! We Have a Plan — Tribeca
Saturday, May 11
Ages 3 to 8
Inspired by Chris Haughton's very funny picture book of the same name, this hour-long show at Tribeca Performing Arts Center follows four pals who spot a bird in a tree, and decide they just must have her. However, she has other plans. An absurd tale about what happens when featherbrained schemes go awry.
Grow by Spellbound Theatre. Photo courtesy of Spellbound Theatre
Grow — Park Slope, Brooklyn
Saturday, May 18
Ages 0 to 5
Spellbound Theatre presents an interactive nature tale at the Old Stone House. Tots are invited to help a storyteller plant an apple seed, and together they trace its vibrant journey of transformation over the four seasons. Sweet songs, simple activities, and a short half-hour running time make this an ideal choice for first-time theatergoers.
Ricitos and The Three Bears at Teatro SEA. Photo courtesy of Teatro SEA
Ricitos and The Three Bears — Lower East Side
Saturday, May 18 through Saturday, June 1
Ages 4 to 10
The sole bilingual English-Spanish family theater company in NYC, Teatro SEA presents familiar fairy tales with clever Latin-inspired twists, like a tango-dancing Cinderella. Its longtime production of Goldilocks, or rather Ricitos (little curls) and the three bears has gotten a makeover, with new sets, costumes, and music. Performed simultaneously in English and Spanish (don't worry, you don't need to know the latter to understand), the show follows a curious girl who goes where she doesn't belong. Hope she enjoys that Dominican stew!
Bout à Bouts at the New Victory Theater. Photo by Frédéric Lejeune
Bout à Bouts — Midtown West
Friday, May 31 through Sunday, June 9
Ages 2 to 4
In this wondrous and wordless show at the New Victory Theater, French puppet troupe Le Clan des Songes transforms a bit of twine into a worm-like creature, who embarks on an adventure where he meets a cavalcade of kooky characters, all conjured from rope. A triumph of creativity and skill, this half-hour show may be aimed at tots, but parents should also be awed and charmed.
Pulsar at LC Kids. Photo courtesy of Teatro al Vacío
Pulsar — Lincoln Square
Tuesday, June 4 through Sunday, June 9
Ages 6 to 36 months
It's playtime! This wordless show by Teatro al Vacío at LC Kids invites toddlers to walk (or crawl) on stage with the performers as they build a wooden road. Equal parts dance and performance art, this interactive experience is a gentle and age-appropriate introduction to live entertainment for tots.
Puss in Boots at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre. Photo courtesy of City Parks Foundation
Puss in Boots — Central Park
Through Sunday, September 22
Ages 3 to 10
Adapted from the PuppetMobile show that toured NYC parks a few summers ago, this hour-long production based on the old Puss in Boots fairy tale takes over the venerable Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre until the fall. The loquacious titular cat tells his poor owner, Fergus, that he can better their lives, and sets out on his magical journey in some pretty nifty footwear. With its easy-to-follow story, colorful marionettes, and inexpensive ticket price, it's a great option for first-time theatergoers.