Musical Theater with Kids

Parent Q&A

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  • I just took my 4 year old daughter to the BACT production of Pippi Longstocking, and she loved it! The play was approximately an hour long, which seemed like a perfect amount of time for her attention span and engagement. I am searching for other affordable performances, musical, dance, theatrical, that might be fun to take her to. We attend all of the free library events, but try to save some money for fee-based activities. We are in the East Bay. Looking forward to any recommendations you might have. Thank you!

    My children greatly enjoyed live performances at the Young Performers Theater at Fort Mason,  They are children performing at a high level, my children were inspired by seeing these programs. We also greatly enjoyed the Masque Unit Theatre of Marin, a group of women who do an annual performance for the children of Marin. They perform in early spring, this year on March 4, at a lovely theatre, where every seat is a good one. They perform at the Showcase Theatre a at the Marin Center in San Rafael. The price of tickets for both of these venues is wonderfully affordable. Enjoy!

    Fantasy Forum is is just the thing- it's a theater company designed for the littlest ones and it's a hidden gem. Shows are all short for young attention spans and the actors do wonderful interactions with the kids to help entertain and accustom kids to the theater. The shows are at Lesher Center in Walnut Creek - the next one is Jack and the Beanstalk.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Would you recommend the Lion King for a 4-year-old?

Feb. 2004

Has anyone out there seen the Lion King? Would you recommend it for four-year-olds? Any scary parts? (I apologize if this has been discussed recently.) Thanks! Dana

I was honored to go see Lion King on its opening night. It is THE MOST WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE I've had in a long time. It is just incredible! I do not think that it had particularly scary stuff....the way Mufasa's death is staged is a production marvel and isn't so bad or terrifying. There was a two year old captivated across the aisle from me through the whole 2 and a half hour show.

The actual production, puppets and costumes were just plain fascinating. I would not want my kids to have missed the experience of seeing it...and I'm not a Broadway show girl at all. (I took my thrteen year old twin boys... dragging their feet all the way on BART. At intermission I got the coveted, ''Ok, you told us so!'', without even asking for it.)

One absolute--don't run late and miss the opening scene. It's awe-inspiring. I cried...swear. Go, just go. (And it doesn't cost as much as you think...although its worth whatever it costs.) One more suggestion, first row of the balcony is best, especially with little ones. My (freebie) seat was in the fourth row...I missed a lot at that vantage point. Wanda

My daughter saw Lion King in LA when she was just over four. She did pretty well. Then she saw it again here recently and really loved it (it was a freebie dress rehearsal, so manners weren't key as there was no one else in the audience, and as I wasn't the one who took her, I can't comment on her behavior). The tix are rather expensive, so you should really consider if you think your kid's temperment will allow you to enjoy it! The music and spectacle is generally grand enough to keep thier interest and to keep any talking they do to a minimum (and not as easily heard by a neighbor). For us, it worked well. Hilary

My husband took our 7 year old to see the Lion King 2 weeks ago and she loved it. I asked her and she did not think it was scary, but when I asked if she thought it would be scary for her 4 year old cousin she said yes. Our daughter saw her first musical (Mamma Mia) at 5 years old and now her Dad has taken her every year for her birthday. She was very anxious when she went the first time, and she has never liked the darkness that goes along with being in a theatre. I would say if your child knows the Lion King story/movie VERY well, can sit for long periods of time, has a long attention span and is not afraid of the dark, then you should be ok. Enjoy! ilana

Do you mean the Lion King movie, or the Broadway show? If the movie, The Lion King is scary: There is a scene in a creepy elephant graveyard where the kid-lions are attacked by hyenas, and a stampede scene where the kid-lion is nearly trampled and the beloved father lion is killed trying to save his son. Too scary for a 4-year-old? Depends on your kid. Our first child was very sensitive and found even the music scary; we held off on that movie (and most Disney, which seem all to have scary parts) until he was six or so. Our younger son was harder to shelter, and saw such movies with his big brother when he was younger than four; he would run away and hide during the scary parts. I would definitely recommend watching the movie first to gauge how your child likely will be affected, and watch it again with your child so you can help him or her process the scary scenes.

If the show, it follows the movie very closely, and so has the same scary parts. But because it is more impressionistic, done with puppets and visible actors behind them, it probably would seem less realistic and so less scary. I'd certainly watch the movie with your child first so he or she knows the story, and can follow it in the more abstract incarnation (and will not need to leave in the scary parts). But a word of caution: It may not be a great idea to take your child to the show even if it isn't too scary. Small children do not always have the staying power for live theater that they do for movies. They sometimes squirm and kick seats, and whisper (or talk out loud), which can really annoy other people who have paid $100 to see the show. The Lion King is an extraordinary extravaganza, and a must-see for many. (My 8-year-old, who saw it in NY, is lobbying to go again.) But personally, I'd leave the 4-year-old home. Leslie

I haven't seen it personally, but my sister-in-law saw it on B'way, and was really glad she had NOT brought her two pre- schooler age kids. She said there were plenty of kids (and parents) there who didn't make it through the first act. At the theater in NY, they had a big room set up with a big t.v. to watch the show, just for those families. I guess the kids could play, while the adults watched. I have no idea whether there is anything similar at the S.F. production. R.K.

Wicked for 5 and 7 year old kids?

July 2007

I am considering a trip to SoCal this summer with my kids. The Wicked musical is playing at the Pantages Theater, and after listening to the soundtrack with my kids for months, I was thinking of taking them. I am wondering if this musical would be appropriate for a 5 and 7 year old? Are there any scary parts? We listen to a lot of soundtracks from musicals, but they are not necessarily ones that I want them to see (e.g. Grease). Thank you!

We just made the pilgramage to see WICKED at the PANTAGES with my 10 year old last month. We absolutely loved it. It is three hours long though, so could be a little much for a 5 y.o. and 7 y.o. It's not extremely scary though. Personally, I'd wait until they are a little older, but if you do go, don't worry about any scenes being inappropriate. monika

Love this musical!! I just went this june and elected not to take my 4and 7 yr old boys but only because it is long and I didn't think they'd be able to sit through it. Now that I have seen it I would totally take them. I went with a big group of people many of whom were kids. there is one point where the wizard comes out and it is very loud! other that that I personally don't think it was that scary. When I was asking around before I went, some said the monkeys might be scary but they didn't come across with that strong a presence. Our seats were in the mezzanine so I don't know if that made a difference.Have a great time! I can't wait to see it again. s