Introduce your kids to theater by first taking them to an age-appropriate production with a relaxed environment, said Erin Hentz, Fox Theatre publicity coordinator. Non-Broadway family productions are good bets because they are shorter and allow for audience participation, squirming, standing and talking.
"Once a child can sit quietly through a movie, they are probably ready to progress to a full musical," Hentz said. Good options include familiar stories like "Annie," and "The Wizard of Oz." She adds that in New York City, children under 4 are generally not admitted to Broadway theaters.
The Muny in Forest Park welcomes first-time theater-goers with open arms. Laura Peters, marketing director for The Muny, said the outdoor landmark is an ideal location for giving live theater a trial-run.
"Sit in the free seats or the $10 seats," Peters said. That way you won't feel it in your pocketbook if your child is cranky, bored or sleepy. "Another advantage of The Muny's free seats, or anywhere in the theater for that matter, is if your child spills anything, so what? It's concrete!"
To ensure a pleasant experience, Peters and Hentz recommend these pre-performance preparations:
- Pick an age-appropriate performance, Hentz said. For shows at the Fox, you can check for content advisories on their website. For shows at other venues, you'll want to do a little research to determine content and language.
- "Let your child watch the movie of the upcoming show as often as he or she wants to prior to coming to the theatre," Peters said. "Familiarity with the songs and stories adds to the fun. When a kid sees a favorite story coming to life in front of his or her eyes, it really is magic."
- Talk about theater etiquette before you leave the house. Encourage children to take advantage of intermissions for bathroom breaks. Also teach kids to be quiet during the show (unless audience participation is encouraged!) and speak in a whisper.
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