Special Reports

9 Summer Shows for Kids and Kids-at-Heart

These productions offer major entertainment for minors.

School may be out, but School of Rock is still in session. So are several other kid-friendly shows, from an adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to a bubble-making extravaganza. If your family needs a break between beach trips and baseball games this summer, here's a cheat sheet for nine productions that will entertain everyone from tykes to teens.

For tickets, click on the hyperlinked title of a show.

1. Aladdin

Age recommendation: 6 and up.

Aladdin is a work of musical genie-us! Based on the Disney film, it tells the tale of Aladdin, a "street rat" who finds a magic lamp. The genie living inside it offers him three wishes, which help Aladdin become a prince, win the heart of Princess Jasmine, and defeat the conniving vizier Jafar. The musical's score features such favorites as "Friend Like Me" and "A Whole New World" as well as a few new songs. What more could you wish for?

2. Anastasia

Age recommendation: 8 and up. Children under 4 are not allowed in the theater.

The musical Anastasia, like the 20th Century Fox films before it, is about a young woman who may be a lost Russian princess but can't remember her past. After two con men meet her, they become determined to pass her off as Anastasia, the daughter of Russia's last tsar. She travels with them to Paris to meet the tsar's exiled mother, who divides her time between going to the ballet and dismissing Anastasia imposters. This musical takes audiences on a journey from Russia to Paris and from the present to the past — a journey that speaks to kids who have dreamed of living a life different from their own.

3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Age recommendation: 6 and up. Children under 4 are not allowed in the theater.

This Broadway adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic 1964 children’s book blends some of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse’s songs from the beloved 1971 film adaptation Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with new songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. Overall, this particular version hews closer to the darkness of Dahl’s book than the sweeter tenor of Mel Stuart’s film. Both tell the story of young Londoner Charlie Bucket, who finds a golden ticket in his candy bar and wins a tour of Willy Wonka's magical chocolate factory.

4. Endangered! The Musical

This show about a kid reporter and the animal friends he makes at the zoo is now playing at the Davenport Theatre.

Age recommendation: 3 to 10.

Endangered! The Musical follows the story of a kid reporter who gets stranded at the zoo during a superstorm. There he meets some of the zoo's endangered residents, including a cheetah, a panda, and a golden tamarin. He and his new animal friends must learn how to understand one another and the different worlds they come from as they work together to stay alive. Originally commissioned by the Friends of the National Zoo — Smithsonian and created in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club, this musical highlights the importance of respecting all the creatures (great and small) that populate our planet.

5. Gazillion Bubble Show

Age recommendation: all ages!

The Gazillion Bubble Show features the amazing talents of the Master of Bubbles, Fan Yang. Along with members of his own family, Yang creates bubbly showpieces and performs stunning feats using only his bubble wand (and some special guests from the audience). While this show is perfect for kids, it's also a delightful (and interactive) evening of entertainment for the entire family. You'll be mesmerized by all of the "unbubblievable" magic Fan Yang and his family concoct at New World Stages!

6. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

A scene from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
A scene from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at St. Luke's Theatre.
(© Samantha Lee Blinn)

Age recommendation: 5 and up.

This deft adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s classic book, which chronicles the Pevensie siblings’ quest to save Narnia from the White Witch’s spell of everlasting winter, pares down the Narnia adventure to 50 minutes and two actors: Jesse Corbin taking on the male roles and Rachel Osterhus tackling the female ones. What the adaptation lacks in epic scale, it makes up for in inventive stagecraft under Julia Beardsley O’Brien’s direction.

7. Pete the Cat

The cast of Pete the Cat, running through August 18 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
(photo courtesy of the production)

Age recommendation: 5 to 8.

Kids will love the musical shenanigans of Pete the Cat, based on the picture book series by Kimberly and James Dean. When Pete makes a musical ruckus after bedtime, he has to go and live with the totally square Biddle family. But their boring manners can't stop Pete from rocking out. Will he be able to get second grader Jimmy Biddle to loosen up? The best part about Pete the Cat? Tickets are free!

8. School of Rock

Alex Brightman as Dewey rocks out with the kids of School of Rock.
(© Matthew Murphy)

Age recommendation: 8 and up. Children under 4 are not allowed in the theater.

Based on the movie of the same name, this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical tells the story of how frustrated guitarist Dewey Finn poses as a teacher and turns his class of fifth graders into first-rate rockers. But will he be able to sneak them into a Battle of the Bands competition without the prim and proper school principal finding out? With a high-energy score and great performances, this is one school kids won't mind attending.

9. Wicked

Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda in the original cast of Wicked.

Photo credit: Joan Marcus
Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda in the original cast of Wicked.
(© Joan Marcus)

Age recommendation: 8 and up. Children under 5 are not allowed in the theater.

Wicked tells the story of Oz before Dorothy and Toto arrive from Kansas. Elphaba is a bright, talented, and misunderstood young woman with emerald-green skin. After she arrives at university to find that she's rooming with a beautiful, popular blond, what starts off as a rivalry unexpectedly develops into a friendship. But will their friendship survive in a world where one is declared good and the other wicked?

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