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Family-Friendly Theater Preview

New York City offers a wide array of entertainment for families to enjoy this fall. logo
Laura Michelle Kelly in Mary Poppins
(© Joan Marcus)
If you want to give your kids a break from homework this fall, you're in luck. New York's theatrical stages will be full of family-friendly musicals, puppet performances, holiday shows, literary faves come to life, and much more.

Looking for something to do right now? Head to Broadway! Disney's hit musicals, The Lion King and Mary Poppins, are always sure to please both kiddies and adults alike.

Other family-friendly fare on the Great White Way includes War Horse, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, The Addams Family, Billy Elliot, and Wicked.

The world-renowned Cirque du Soleil continues its breathtaking new circus show, Zarkana at Radio City Music Hall (through October 8). It features 71 terrifically talented acrobats and artists, eye-popping sets, wonderfully bizarre costumes, and bewitching music.

The Gazillion Bubble Show, now at New World Stages, uses the simple magic of bubbles, along with some pretty cool laser and lighting effects, to wow audiences.

You can also head over to the SoHo Playhouse for Alice, which offers a re-telling of Alice in Wonderland with a modern sensibility and Parisian flair.

It will be an enchanted autumn at Galli Theater, where many of the best-loved children's fairy tales come to life in original, interactive productions each weekend, including Aladdin (September 3-25), Rapunzel (October 1-30), Hansel and Gretel (November 5-27), and Snow White (December 3-18). Saturday matinees are followed by a one-hour acting workshop that gives kids the opportunity to dress up and play their favorite characters.

Literally Alive gives the inspiring Revolutionary War-era story Stone Soup the musical treatment and each performance is preceded by a special workshop that includes an art project (Players Theatre, September 18-November 5).

An explosion of learning and fun, Puppetonia, is an interactive show for tykes that is full of music, laughter, bubbles, and puppets (Brick Theatre, Thursdays in September).

The Vital Theater Company begins its 13th season with Uncle Pirate (September 24-November 13), Ben H. Winters and Drew Fornarola's musical adaptation of Douglas Rees' children's book about an average fourth-grader who discovers that his uncle has a rather unusual profession.The popular character Angelina Ballerina returns to the Vital later in the year in the new musical Angelina Ballerina - The Very Merry Holiday (November 19-January 2).

The New Victory Theater has a truly exciting line-up this fall, starting with Bristol Riverside Theatre's magical production of the classic Antoine de Saint-Exupéry story The Little Prince (October 1-16) featuring marvelous puppetry and projections. In White (October 13-November 13), Scotland's Catherine Wheels Theatre Company creates a peculiar, pigment-free world that eventually comes alive with color, to the delight of the audience. The Reduced Shakespeare Company takes on athletics with The Complete World of Sports (abridged) (October 21-November 6), a gonzo show that covers everything from bowling to competitive eating to Quidditch. Australia's Raw Metal Dance's Untapped! (November 11-27) features hard-charging tap and a live rock band. The Chinese acrobats of Cirque Shanghai will blow your mind in Bai Xi (December 2-January 1), performing aerial stunts, feats of strength, contortionism, and daredevil tricks.

Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan
(© Craig Schwartz)
NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts resumes its Big Red Chair Family Series, which invites family productions and performing artists to its state-of-the-art downtown venue. Popular children's musicians Dan Zanes & Friends will perform songs from their latest album Little Nut Tree (October 2); Nova Scotia's Mermaid Theatre presents the world premiere of Treasured Stories by Eric Carle (October 13-16); and the darling stuffed-animal tale Knuffle Bunny (November 25-27).

When the holidays come around, it's time for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (November 11-January 2), the beloved eye-popping pageant featuring Santa Claus, Christmas songs, a retelling of the Nativity with live animals, and the world-famous Rockettes. This year's edition will feature some new numbers, so even if you've been before, come again.

Tony Award-nominee and Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby flies into the Theater at Madison Square Garden as she takes on the title role in the musical Peter Pan, the perennial favorite about a boy who won't grow up (December 14-30).

Finally, there are plenty of other Christmas-themed shows coming this season, including The Colonial Nutcracker (December 11) at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts; Bethlehem or Bust: How the Three Kings Teamed Up to Deliver the World's Very First Christmas Presents! (December 12-18) at The Brick; and Phoenix Theatre Ensemble's production of the musical The Toymaker's Apprentice at The Wild Project (December 10-17).

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