BWW JR: Kids Guide to the TONYS
This is the first year that I'll be watching the Tonys with my child. After a terrific Broadway season packed with family-friendly offerings, my eight year old and I are ready to enjoy the season's biggest award night together. Of course she hasn't seen all of the nominated shows, just the ones that appeal to kids. So the evening will be both a celebration of shows we've enjoyed and a PG-rated glimpse into those she's too young to see. You still have the week to take in one of these nominated shows, or watch the Tonys for a preview before you buy!
In the best play category, only one play is family-friendly: Peter and the Starcatcher. The show's website recommends it for ages ten and up, but in a Broadwayworld Jr. first I've lowered my personal age recommendation to eight. My girl had a great time and with a little bit of (quietly whispered) explaining she understood everything. Check out my article on this show for more details.
This was a great season for family-friendly musicals, and two of my favorites were nominated for best: Newsies and Nice Work if You Can Get It. The first is, in my opinion, a no-brainer, must-see for kids over age six (but probably best for kids over eight). After catching this addictively uplifting dance-a-thon at Papermill Playhouse last year, we stalked Newsies to Broadway and were delighted all over again. In my article on the show I shared how much my daughter learned about the history of child labor in this country and how much we enjoyed seeing a show about kids. I'm looking forward to seeing them perform on Sunday night and I definitely recommend tuning in for that part of the evening!
Nice Work if You Can Get It is a bit more sophisticated, and seeing them perform at the Tony's is the perfect opportunity to get a sense of whether or not it's right for your child. Child-appropriate doesn't always mean child-friendly. In our case, when I covered the show for Broadwayworld's MamaDrama blog, I found myself grateful for an original musical with classic sensibilities. My kids see a lot of theatre and I feel responsible for the formation of their "theatrical taste buds", so to speak. I haven't had much opportunity to bring them to the classic musicals I grew up with (Execpt for Peter Pan), and Joe DiPietro's hilarious re-working of the Gershwins' Oh Kay offered the perfect combination of period style and old-fashioned, popular standards with modern production values.
Of course there were many shows nominated this season that weren't right for kids, and watching them perform on the Tony's is a great way to share the excitement of these shows in a way that's ready for prime-time. Two of my favorite musicals this season are Jesus Christ Superstarand Once. I am still toying with the idea of taking my daughter to see Once, which is such a gloriously simple love story with a wonderful lesson in musicality for any child. We'll check them out when they perform on Sunday night and I'll see if it sparks her interest! However she's too young for Superstar right now, so I'm thrilled that she'll be able to see one of the show's numbers performed on T.V.
Finally, this year's Tony awards presents an opportunity for you and your child to catch a performance from a terrific, family-friendly show that wasn't nominated: Godspell. If you're considering this show for yourself and your kids, read my article and watch them on Sunday night!
Catching the Tonys with your children is a great way to get them excited about Broadway while you preview the shows you're considering for your family. Even if you haven't made the investment in a family trip to Broadway, seeing the Tony awards might just inspire the little theatre fan in your house.