Musical Theater Classes Where NYC Kids Sing, Dance and Act

TADA! Youth Theater, Applause, A Class Act, Broadway Workshop

We love musical theater in our family and feel lucky we live just a few subway stops from the Great White Way. But in New York City, kids can do more than just watch a show—they can become budding Broadway babies.

New York City offers a slew of musical theater classes for children than run practically from birth through high school. We could never cover every one of these programs in one post, but we have rounded up our favorites, with options in all five boroughs.

Find more NYC classes in our Classes Guide and Directory Listings.

TADA! Youth Theater – Chelsea
15 West 28th Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue
We've written a lot about this musical theater program for kids over the years. The Broadway beat starts at age 2 with parent-and-me program Theater on Their Scale (T.O.T.S.), in which families play and learn about the genre. More traditional musical theater skills like dancing, acting and singing are offered for preschoolers through eighth graders, with each group putting on a semester-end performance for family. But what truly makes TADA! stand out is its Resident Youth Ensemble, a free by-audition-only, pre-professional training program for local children ages 8 to 18. The 65 kids a year who are accepted get to perform at schools, fairs and theaters throughout the city, as well as in TADA!'s original main stage productions. Auditions are held each fall and no experience is necessary. From what we've observed, TADA! is as much concerned with diversity and enthusiasm as talent. 

Applause: Performing Arts for All Ages – Upper East Side
St. Jean's Community Center, 184 East 76th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues
When the instructors at this program say all ages, they mean it: Applause's youngest division starts at age 0 (so stopping by on your way home from the hospital presumably won't be frowned upon). Classes are organized by age, with a parent-and-me program for babies (0-3) that's really more of a musical theater appreciation class, and more interactive drop-off sessions for preschoolers (3-5), elementary schoolers and teens. While the classes for tots are more general, school-age kids can focus on a particular specialty, like singing, acting, dance or even hip-hop and pop-star singing. Serious high schoolers get professional training.

Broadway Workshop – Midtown West
Ripley-Grier Studios, 520 Eighth Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets
Aspiring Tony winners in second to seventh grades can learn from Broadway pros in a variety of classes and camps. Each session features a working performer and a seasoned musical director who teach students singing, dancing and acting. In addition to developing their raw talent, kids will get audition prep and perform for family and friends.

A Class Act NY – Midtown West
Ripley-Grier Studios, 520 Eighth Avenue between 36th and 37th Streets
When this program mounts an end-of-class showcase, it's for parents, friends and agents; in other words, the Broadway Bound classes for children ages 5 to 18 aren't for kidding around. Students learn song-and-dance combinations from Broadway hits from working musical theater performers, as well as improvisation and audition tricks.

Wingspan Arts – Midtown West
630 Ninth Avenue at 45th Street
This arts conservatory offers pre-professional training for teens and fun musical theater classes for younger children. Scholarships are available for kids who qualify and during the summer, Wingspan offers a no-cost camp program for teens by audition.

Brooklyn Arts Exchange – Park Slope
421 Fifth Avenue at 8th Street
You don't need to live in Manhattan to get your Broadway on. Best known for its dance classes and drop-in toddler play space, Park Slope's BAX also offers musical theater classes for children ages 7 to 13 where students dance, act and sing. The atmosphere is relaxed and the focus is more on having fun than going pro as kids perform scenes and songs from family-friendly shows like Cinderella, Annie and Peter Pan.

Bronx House – the Bronx
990 Pelham Parkway South between Bogart and Hone Avenues
The boogie down borough also offers musical theater classes at this local nonprofit. Kids in kindergarten through second grade can enroll in the Musical Theater Workshop for an introduction to the genre. Third to eighth graders can take the Musical Theater Production Program, which ends with a full production and also includes theater games, improvisation, choral singing, basic dance technique and instruction in lighting, scenery and costume design.

The Garden Players – Forest Hills
The Music Room at the Church-in-the-Gardens, 50 Ascan Avenue between Metropolitan Avenue and Manse Street
Since the '70s, this program has been encouraging kids in first through 10th grades to sing, act and dance, as well as schooling them in improvisation techniques, ear training and classic and contemporary musical theater material. At the end of each academic year, the class culminates in a fully staged original production accompanied by a live band.

Staten Island Children's Theatre Association – West Brighton
Snug Harbor Cultural Center, G Building, 1000 Richmond Terrace
This year, children ages 5 to 8 will learn excerpts from Sleeping Beauty, while ages 9 to 18 can audition for the North Shore Musical Theatre in order to perform a show at the Music Hall at Snug Harbor. Visit the website for more information on auditions and schedules.

And a bonus note about Summer Stars program. Every August, the Astoria Performing Arts Center presents this free, two-week intensive musical theater training program for Queens residents ages 8 to 13. No prior experience is required, only enthusiasm and an audition.

Read about other great kids' programs in our Classes Guide.

Top photo courtesy of TADA.

This post originally published in August 2012.

location: 
Applause: Performing Arts for All Ages
184 East 76th St. St. Jean's Community Center
10021 New York , NY 40° 46' 22.3068" N, 73° 57' 36.0144" W
New York
TADA! Youth Theater
15 West 28th Street
10001 NY , NY 40° 44' 42.7056" N, 73° 59' 17.5776" W
New York
Ripley-Grier Studio
520 8th Avenue Broadway Workshop/A Class Act NY
10018 NY , NY 40° 45' 13.0212" N, 73° 59' 30.8544" W
New York
Brooklyn Arts Exchange
421 Fifth Ave.
11215 Brooklyn , NY 40° 40' 11.0028" N, 73° 59' 8.1852" W
New York
Bronx House
990 Pelham Parkway South
10461 Bronx , NY 40° 51' 24.2316" N, 73° 51' 38.0304" W
New York
The Garden Players
50 Ascan Ave
11375 Forest Hills , NY 40° 42' 55.1628" N, 73° 50' 32.9352" W
New York
Staten Island Children's Theater Assoc.
1000 Richmond Terrace Snug Harbor Cultural Center
10301 Staten Island , NY 40° 38' 28.014" N, 74° 6' 10.9836" W
New York
Wingspan Arts
630 Ninth Avenue
10036 NY , NY 40° 45' 36.198" N, 73° 59' 28.2912" W
New York