Having lived in New York City for a decade or so, I often get asked this question by local parents: “What are the best things to do with kids in the city?”
My go to answer? Broadway. There’s truly nothing else like it. When my husband and I lived in Manhattan, we rented an apartment in Hell’s Kitchen—a stone’s throw away from the busy theater district. We went often enough over the years to actively pass on our enjoyment of musical theater to our daughter, Avery. And now, she’s that kid who’s been sitting through full theatrical productions since the age of 3. We love it!
We definitely started small…first with local children’s theater and then slowly moved her up to professional productions at the Broward Center and Kravis Center. Last year, we decided to test out Broadway with Disney’s “Aladdin” (really wonderful!) and it went so well that we planned her a fifth birthday trip to NYC this spring to see “Anastasia” and the new musical, “Frozen.” After experiencing both over a whirlwind weekend, here’s why these two shows should be on your family’s Broadway bucket list:
This historical (yet musical!) re-creation of the legend of Russian princess Anastasia may be loosely based on the 1997 animated feature, but it’s really so much more! The creators of “Anastasia” kept some music from the film, added even more touching, beautiful numbers and then made the show come alive on a stage featuring the latest in LED technology. My jaw literally dropped several times during the show (take note when you see that train car scene!).
Creators decided to eliminate the movie’s villain, Rasputin, from the show (which was slightly confusing for my 5-year-old) and replace him with a more historically accurate storyline highlighting the rise of the Bolsheviks and Leningrad. However, I personally think (at least as an adult viewer) it made the show more relatable, especially considering the world we currently live in. My daughter on the other hand…had a lot of questions. So, you probably want to save this production for children who are 5 and older.
All in all, Anastasia had everything—special effects, A-plus acting, beautiful music and so much emotion. The tears definitely came at the end for me. Plus, my daughter got to meet the star herself after the show (Christy Altomare) and she even sang “Happy Birthday” to my little Romanov princess!
At this point in my #girlmom life, I have experienced “Frozen” on stage at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, in the movie theater, on ice (twice) and on Disney Cruise Line. Now, I can add Broadway to my list after seeing the musical not long after its official debut on the Great White Way! The show is good—it definitely lived up to the hype between the music (old and new; definitely get the soundtrack), costumes, actors and sets. Anna (Patti Murin) was especially good. And after all of the questions during “Anastasia,” I was relieved to watch a show with a storyline that my daughter knew inside and out.
But I’ll be honest, I really struggled with the $300 (per ticket!) average price tag for this show. I decided to book $80 “partial-view” seats after doing a ton of Internet research because the $220 savings had to be worth it. Spoiler alert: it was. I don’t think we missed a thing. So book without fear, mamas! Balcony seats, B31-35, are good to go if you’d like to take your own family.
Other things to note—the theater has bathrooms on every level and boosters for little ones. Of course Disney thought of that! Anastasia had one bathroom on the lower level, so you can only imagine how crazy that got during intermission. I’d also encourage you to dress your kids in costume. There were so many little Elsa’s and Anna’s in the audience! It was adorable.
If I had to choose only one show to see…and I can’t believe I’m saying this…go with Anastasia. It really was better overall. Plus, I just read that Frozen will begin traveling in the fall of 2019, so I’m sure Olaf will be leading the charge directly to South Florida and SUMMER!