Broadway theaters do not allow children under the age of 5 to attend, nor do they give discounts to kids (with the exception of the Kids Night On Broadway discount program, go to www.kidsnightonbroadway.com; discounts are usually only offered in February). But beyond Broadway is affordable, often mesmerizing theater that’s aimed squarely at the pre-puberty crowd. The following organizations, in particular, present a roster of consistently challenging and entertaining family shows.
The New Victory Theater, 229 209 W. 42nd St., 10th floor, between Seventh and Eighth avenues (www.newvictory.org; tel. 646/223-3010), books shows from around the U.S. and abroad that are inventive and smart enough for the entire family to enjoy. One musical that made its debut here even moved to Broadway (now how about that for a kiddie show?). Past offerings have included quality puppet shows, acrobatic and circus troupes, "new vaudeville" acts, and theater pieces.
The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre (www.cityparksfoundation.org/arts/swedish-cottage-marionette-theatre; tel/ 212/988-9093) puts on surprisingly sophisticated and enjoyable marionette shows for kids at its 19th-century Central Park theater throughout the year. Reservations are a must.
Every summer, the marvelous touring theater company Theaterworks USA (www.theaterworksusa.com) presents a summer of free theater for kids at the Lucille Lortel Theater (121 Christopher St. near Hudston St.). Musicals written and performed by up-and-coming Broadway talents, they are among the most delightful shows in town for people of all ages.
Look for Young People’s Concerts and Kidzone Live!, in which kids get to interact with orchestra members prior to curtain time, at the New York Philharmonic (www.nyphil.org/education). Also check to see what’s on for the entire family at Carnegie Hall (www.carnegiehall.org), which offers family concerts at prices as low as $6; plus the CarnegieKids program, which introduces kids ages 3 to 6 to basic musical concepts through a 45-minute music-and-storytelling performance. And don’t forget Jazz for Young People, Wynton Marsalis’s stellar family concert series and curriculum at Jazz at Lincoln Center (www.jalc.org/educ).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.