at theaterI was once at a production of the Nutcracker and during a quiet pause in the performance a little boy yelled out, “I want to go home!”  While the audience chuckled, I wondered whether that mom regretted the money she’d spent.  It is never too early to expose your children to the performing arts but that doesn’t mean they are ready for full scale theatrical productions. There are always plenty of fabulous Broadway shows that are family oriented at any given time in New York City but if you have what I call a “squirmer” then off-Broadway and even off-off Broadway may be your best option.  NYC has an abundance of wonderful and professional productions geared toward kids without the high price tags or the judgmental stares of fellow theatergoers.

Here is a list of the best:

The New York Children’s Theater Festival 
The Majorie S. Deane Little Theater located at:  10 West 64th Street
This organization serves to connect artists and industry professionals who are passionate about creating theatrical productions for children.  The festival accepts submissions for original productions to present in hopes that these opportunities for creativity will inspire the next generation of theatergoers (so that they can all continue to have jobs!).

The New Victory Theater  
Located at 209 West 42nd Street, (between 7th and 8th Avenue)

One of the most popular family friendly theater, The New Victory provides a full season of theater, dance, puppetry, circus, opera, physical theater and other types of performance art, presenting companies from around the world.  

Located at:  Theaters vary, see calendar for details

Each season, three million children across the country attend original productions of Theatreworks USA.  The company tours approximately 16 shows each season from its repertoire of plays and musicals.  In addition, The company’s goal is to develop in children a life-long appreciation for the arts.  The company puts on original, G-rated productions at venues across the city all year long.

Every July and August, the troupe mounts a new show—for FREE—at the Lucille Lortel Theatre 121 Christopher Street, between 7th Avenue and Hudson Street.

Located at: 338 Sixth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY 11215 (at 4th Street)

At this storefront theater in Park Slope, Brooklyn, kids sit on the floor while grown-ups hunker down on bleachers behind them. The productions (largely adaptations of traditional fairy and folk tales) are written by the theater’s artistic director, Nicholas Coppola.  Tickets $7-8.

13th Street Repertory Theatre 
Located at: 50 W 13th Street, New York, NY 10011 – between 5th and 6th Avenues

13th Street is a theater where actors, directors, playwrights and technicians develop their craft while providing affordable but professional shows to the public.  Every weekend, the group puts on three works for children.  Currently playing is Imagination Show; Wiseacre Farm, (an interactive show about farm animals and birthday etiquette); Rumpelstiltskin.  Tickets $10-$12.

For a list of a all furrent family-friendly theater offerings in NYC, check out listings at Theatermania Kids.