Sierra Boggess in The Little Mermaid
(© Joan Marcus)
Sierra Boggess in The Little Mermaid
(© Joan Marcus)
The end of summer, with the kids out of camp and after-school programs and homework not yet assigned, is the perfect time to treat your children to a visit to the theater. And whether it's Broadway, Off-Broadway, or regional theater, the options are remarkably varied.

On the Great White Way, Ashley Brown plays the magical nanny named Mary Poppins at the New Amsterdam Theatre; the lovely Sierra Boggess goes under (and over) the sea every night as Ariel in the enchanting The Little Mermaid at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre; and The Lion King continues to thrill audiences at the Minskoff Theatre with Julie Taymor's stunning directorial vision.

Perhaps slightly more suitable for tweens and teens is the revival of Grease at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where reality show stars Derek Keeling and Ashley Spencer lead the energetic cast as 1950s lovebirds Danny and Sandy; the retro-musical Hairspray, now starring Cheers favorite George Wendt; and the hit musical Legally Blonde, in its second year at the Palace Theatre, which now showcases the star power of Bailey Hanks, another reality show winner, as Harvard Law student Elle Woods.

There's even suitable shows for kids at the New York International Fringe Festival. Keep Your Eyes Open, which will play the Cherry Lane Theatre, August 20-23, explores female role models with the help of Winifred, a frustrated, enthusiastic, outspoken, hopeful, tech-savvy 10-year-old on a mission to find her role models. Gargoyle Garden, at the Bleecker Street Theatre through August 20 tells the tale of a lonely little boy who spends a lot of his free time among the broken statues on his dormitory roof . A Silly Silverstein Show, a brand new puppet musical that incorporates stories, poems, and songs by the author Shel Silverstein, is at The Deluxe at Spiegelworld through August 24. Finally, there's Thumbelina, the classic story of a brave little girl who must find her way home after being separated from her mother, which runs through August 23 also at the Cherry Lane.

Brian D'Arcy James in Shrek
(© Andrew Eccles/Dreamworks)
Brian D'Arcy James in Shrek
(© Andrew Eccles/Dreamworks)
Elsewhere around the Big Apple, Pinkalicious, The Musical has returned to New World Stages with the wacky tale of a girl can't stop eating pink cupcakes despite warnings from her parents. Also at New World Stages is the amazing Gazillion Bubble Show, which offers amazing feats performed with one of kids' (and adults') favorite toys. Meanwhile, down at the Lucille Lortel, Theaterworks USA is treating audiences to a stage adaptation of Nancy McArthur's The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks through August 22. Ten-year-old Norman can't stand his brother Michael's cleanliness issues, so he sends away for some, "Amazing Beans." But when those bean grow into huge plants with a hunger for the boys' socks, they have to conceal their botanical secret from the rest of the kids in the neighborhood.

In the Washington D.C area, The Open Circle Theatre in Silver Springs, Maryland offers their staging of Paul Sills' Story Theatre, August 22-September 13, an adaptation of stories from the Brothers Grimm and Aesop's Fables. On August 26, Virginia's Signature Theatre Company will present a new version of the musical Ace, about an unhappy young boy who dreams of an aviator, with a cast including Broadway stars Christiane Noll, Jill Paice, and Emily Skinner.

Heading to California, in San Francisco, the Belasco Theatre Company is serving up a production of the toe-tapping musical The Wiz through August 22, and the 6th Street Playhouse is presenting Meredith Willson's beloved family musical The Music Man, from August 15 to September 15. In L.A., the hot ticket continues to be the Stephen Schwartz-Winnie Holzman tuner Wicked, now starring Erin Mackey, Teal Wicks, Jo Anne Worley, and John Rubinstein. Down in Costa Mesa, South Coast Repertory has a new production of Peter Pan through August 17.

And last but far from least, Seattle's 5th Avenue Theater is presenting the world premiere of the Broadway-bound Shrek: The Musical, based on the beloved animated film, through September 21. The show stars Brian D'Arcy James as the lovable ogre, Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona, Chester Gregory II as the tart-talking donkey, and a star-studded supporting cast including Christopher Sieber, Kecia Lewis-Evans, and John Tartaglia.