theatre seatsIf you are headed to New York any time soon, chances are, you’re thinking you’ve got to shell out upwards of $150 per ticket to take your kids to see a “Real Broadway Show.” Wrong.

The New York theater scene is rich, varied – and not always overpriced.  There’s so much more to it than Broadway (and DIsney on Broadway) if you just know where to look:

The New Victory Technically, I suppose this is a Broadway Theatre, geographically speaking (it’s on 42nd and Braodway), but in spirit and experience, it is an off-Broadway gem.

The New Victory Theater is new York City’s first and only full-time performing arts theater for kids and their families.  And they do kids theatre that parents can actually enjoy, too. Each year, The New Vic presents a 10-month season of unique, visually arresting, expertly produced and performed works from around the world and close to home. We’re talking puppet shows unlike any you’ve ever seen, interpretations of children’s books, heart stopping acrobatics, and spectacular dance.

I especially like that every year, they have a line-up of shows, helpfully classified by age-group – with shows appropriate for little ones, all the way to teenagers and adults…and ones for all ages, too.

Plus, New Vic tickets are super-affordable, averaging only $18 a ticket (take that, Disney on Broadway), with some seats available for as little as $9.

Manhattan Children’s Theatre  MCT is produces affordable, high quality shows for both children and families. Mostly, they take works of Classic Literature (along with some new work) and  create  “live theatrical experience that encourage reading, critical thinking, curiosity of the world today and the world of tomorrow, as well as communication between children, their families and their educators.”

Like the New Victory, tickets are super-affordable, $15 for adults, $10 for children on average, though better seats are more.

TheatreWorks USA  From their website: “Every year, over four million people, many of whom have no other access to the performing arts, see our shows in venues as varied as local elementary school gymnasiums, regional fine arts centers, and major Broadway-sized theaters. Every year, TheatreworksUSA tours approximately 16 shows from our ever-growing repertoire of 117 plays and musicals. In addition, we also have an extensive multi-cultural guest artist roster, including storytellers, puppeteers, poets, and magicians.”

I LOVE these shows.  Clever, funny, exceptionally well-written. They are one of the few places left that actively support young, up and coming Musical theater composers/lyricists.  So even though TheatreWorks is not really a NYC theater – and more of a touring one, I’ve included it here.  If they’re not in NY while you are, check their website to see if they are performing somewhere near you. After all, they are in up to 44 states a year!

Vital Theater Company – Truth be told, the children’s productions of this company are a bit uneven.  And sometimes, they are not particularly enjoyable for adults.  But despite that, younger kids seem to love ’em all, and sometimes, they are truly wonderful.  Plus, get a load of their mission:

If one adult is inspired,

if one child’s imagination is awakened,
if one student is empowered,
Our theatre is important and vital.

Kind of hard not to support that.

Located on the Upper West Side, this theatre is in family friendly territory.  The shows are usually quick – about an hour – and perfect for small ones kids with proportionate attention spans.  Often, they include some audience participation.

Like the other children’s theatre companies I mentioned, tickets are affordable, at $15.”

So there you have it.  Not a comprehensive list by any means, but a good start.  And a far cry from the “we really could have seen this at [insert theme park here]” that you probably would have gone to see.