I love the theater! I grew up performing in shows since I was five, and spent all my spare money in college on tickets to concerts and plays. From the thrill of performing on stage to the fun of taking in shows from the seats, I am introducing my passion for theater to my children.
The first thing to consider is that, here in the greater Phoenix area, we have many venue options.
Many neighborhood community centers have children performances several times a year, and so do the local schools and libraries.
We also have some really beautiful theaters and are lucky enough to draw some big stage productions. Take advantage of them and instill an appreciation for the arts from a young age. Check out Desert Stages Theater, Valley Youth Theater, Childsplay, Greasepaint Youtheatre, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts to see what’s showing in the upcoming season.
Once you choose a show, follow these tips for the smoothest experience when introducing a preschooler to the theater:
1. Choose the best time to see the show. If your little one usually takes a nap from 1-4pm, maybe planning to go to a show at 2pm is risky and setting yourself up for an expensive nap. Being well rested makes a world of difference!
2. Snacks! Snacks! Snacks! Who doesn’t like a snack during a show?! First off, having some snacks ready in your bag is a must for moments of restlessness as you wait in line to get in, and of course, during intermission. Leave the crinkly wrappers at home and go for baggies with quiet snacks like dried or sliced fruit, mini-marshmallows and fruit snacks.
3. Dress up to create the mood. Going to see a show is a special event and spending the time to choose a dressed-up outfit lets your kids know this isn’t just an ordinary happening. We either dress in our Sunday Best or wear something in theme with the show. Either way, you are encouraging good behavior and a connection to the show.
4. Choose seats with a good view, or bring a booster seat. If you can see an audience layout before the show, great! Don’t be afraid to chat with the box office about the seats they recommend for your needs. I find being close to the front or near an aisle can help keep little ones stay engaged. Sometimes the best prices are in the back, or you end up sitting behind a tall family. Bring a booster seat with you or, better yet, call ahead and see if the theater has boosters available to borrow.
5. BYO Souvenir. It can be as simple as packing a coloring page and some crayons. Big productions seem to always be selling expensive programs, overpriced glow sticks, or action figures and stuffed animals that cost nearly as much as your ticket. We went to see Peter Pan with my 3 year old, and I brought a Jake and the Neverland Pirates coloring pack from the dollar bins at Target. It was perfect to entertain him as we waited for the show to start. Use these “souvenirs” as a reward for good behavior at the end of a show or as a memento for such a special day out. Plan ahead, head to the Dollar Tree, and bring your own small surprise!
What upcoming shows do you want to see, and what tips do you have for bringing your kids to the theater?