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6 Shows to See With Your Family Instead of Black Friday Shopping

Buck the trend and go to the theater the day after Thanksgiving.

You could spend your Friday after Thanksgiving crowding into one of America's innumerable retail establishments, working off the gravy by muscling your way past less hearty shoppers. But if you have become disenchanted with this consumer gladiatorial tradition, we offer a new one: Go to the theater. There are plenty of great shows playing in New York this week, many with special matinees on the 24th. Here are six that we think you and your family will particularly enjoy.

Gavin Lee stars as Squidward in SpongeBob SquarePants on Broadway.
(© Joan Marcus)

1. SpongeBob SquarePants
If you're ready to replace your Black Friday shopping with Broadway but not quite emotionally prepared to give up commercialism altogether, the new SpongeBob SquarePants musical is the show for you. The Nickelodeon-backed production is just as chock-full of flashy colors and kid-friendly humor as your local Toys "R" Us, but it's bound to be a lot less packed with grouchy adults. Plus, SpongeBob is the perfect show to ease you into a more imaginative holiday season, with its delightfully nonliteral interpretations of the beloved characters and inspirational Bikini Bottom tale about the power of friendship. A true generational crowd-pleaser.

Mercedes Ruehl and Michael Urie star in the off-Broadway revival of Harvey Fierstein's Torch Song.
(© Joan Marcus)

2. Torch Song
Looking for a way to tell your family a very important piece of information about your life? Head off-Broadway to Second Stage Theater, where Harvey Fierstein's historic drama Torch Song is bringing down the house. With a cast headed by Michael Urie and Mercedes Ruehl as a feuding (but still loving) son and mother, this is the perfect way to show your folks who you really are.

Bianca Ryan, Candice Glover, and Josh Kaufman headline Home for the Holidays.
(© Jeremy Daniel)

3. Home for the Holidays
Veterans from American Idol, The Voice, and The Bachelorette join Hollywood legend Danny Aiello and a brass-and-rhythm band for this Broadway-sized Christmas concert. Featuring new arrangements of old favorites like "O Holy Night" and more recent hits such as "All I Want for Christmas Is You," Home for the Holidays is bound to be a winter holiday treat for young and old.

Ben Kaufman, Sofiya Cheyenne, and Jenna Zafiropoulos star in Stephen Kaliski's The Briefly Dead at 59E59 Theaters.
(© Mia Isabella Photography / Brandon Saloy)

4. The Briefly Dead

Think you have a dysfunctional family? Not compared to Alcestis's. Stephen Kaliski's The Briefly Dead picks up where Euripides's Alcestis left off. In Greek tragedy, Alcestis was a mother who died for her husband to honor him. In The Briefly Dead, it turns out she was depressed and wanted to die anyway. Why? Oh, various reasons. Jealousy of her husband's young assistant, Avra. Doubts about her competence as a mother and the meaningfulness of her best friend's friendship. Whatever your family problems, this play, in which Death figures as a character, will put them in perspective for everyone. Confrontations with mortality have a way of doing that.

Annabelle Wachtel, Brandon Niederauer, Amadi Chapata, Eric Petersen, Gianna Harris, Rachel Katzke, and Walden Sullivan star in Andrew Lloyd Webber's School of Rock on Broadway.
(© Matthew Murphy)

5. School of Rock
Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation of the Jack Black film is still going strong after a few years on Broadway and is perfect for all ages. Parents will marvel at the skill set of the talented youngsters who play their instruments live onstage, while their children will hopefully be inspired to pick up a guitar or grab a drumstick of their very own.

Nicholas Bruder and Sophie Bortolussi perform in front of masked audience members in Sleep No More.
(© Robin Roemer)

6. Sleep No More
Adventurous families will want to journey off-Broadway for Black Friday — specifically to 27th Street just under the Highline. That's where they'll find the McKittrick Hotel, the intricately designed 1930s-style lodge where Macbeth reigns supreme in Sleep No More. A completely immersive (and mostly nonverbal) retelling of Shakespeare's Scottish play, Sleep No More offers a unique journey for each and every audience member. Visitors to the hotel travel alone, exploring its five floors at their own pace. You could see the show a thousand times, and it would always be a different experience depending on what room you are in at what time. It may sound like a frightening choice for the holiday season, but honestly: Is anything scarier than Walmart or Best Buy on Black Friday?