• Broadway's Best

Broadway’s Best Shows for Kids

May 10, 2024

Whether you’re a New York local or planning your family’s very first trip to the city, it can be challenging to figure out which of Broadway’s bevy of options are right for the children in your life. The Broadway’s Best Shows editorial team has assembled our recommendations based on age group (5-10, 11-14, and 14-18), and we’ve also included information about what might be scary or confusing (i.e., humor for grown-ups) so that you can make an informed decision. While the very young might not have the attention span for a three-hour movie, luckily, Broadway blockbusters have intermissions! 

Note that most theaters only permit children ages 4 and up, so be sure to check the website.

For elementary school-aged children 

Water For Elephants

This heart-pounding adventure story about running away to the circus features mind-blowing stagecraft, puppetry, and an emotional, universal story, ideal for someone’s first Broadway show. While it was not explicitly created with kids in mind like Lion King was, and does not talk down to audiences, nothing in the story is too scary for young children – note that a very sick circus horse dies early in Act 1, but (spoilers!) the circus animals actually get to save the day in Act 2. Theatergoers of all ages will be awed by the real circus performers onstage. 2 hrs 45 mins with intermission. 

The Lion King

This long-running stalwart has been the first Broadway show many children ever see, for a reason – Julie Taymor’s awe-inspiring puppetry, a straightforward story and easy humor, Elton John’s songs that are still bops, 30 years in. Don’t let the Disney of it all fool you – the grownups will not be bored either. (Good luck steering your kid away from the mind-blowing amount of merchandise for sale in the lobby.) 2 hrs 30 mins with an intermission. All children require a ticket, even if sitting in a caregiver’s lap. 

For middle schoolers and tweens


Henry the 8th’s six wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived) are now LIVE on Broadway! A pair of young musical theater writers from England cleverly turned this 17th-century history into a pop concert a la the Spice Girls or Little Mix, and it’s become a Broadway smash. It’s got a cheeky, British sense of humor, and every song is an earworm. It’s bubbly, feisty fun for fans of the Barbie movie, and for children who’ve recently grown out of their “princess phase.” 80 minutes, no intermission. 


Inspired by the real-life suffragists who fought to get women the right to vote, Suffs is a thrilling story of female friendship and resilience that fans of Little Women, Annie, and Matilda will love. It’s an opportunity to learn about real-life history even though the show doesn’t feel like homework, and theatergoers will leave feeling inspired. Note that there’s some light swearing, and some incredibly relatable real-life misogyny. 2 hours 45 minutes with intermission. 

The Outsiders

Your sixth-grader is probably required to read S.E. Hinton’s novel for school, so why not take them to the new musical adaptation, which is a vast improvement on the 1980 movie version? The classic tale of teen gang warfare between the rich and the poor in 1960s Telsa is infused with electrifying choreography and soulful, bluegrass-inspired music. The production confronts difficult ideas like how the poor Greasers are trapped in a cycle of poverty, and as a content warning, two of its adolescent characters die (one by suicide.) 2 hours 45 minutes with intermission. 

For high schoolers 


Cabaret’s portrayal of wild Weimar Berlin during the rise of the Nazi party is probably too dark for children under age 13, but its sexuality, thematic maturity, and sheer brilliance is ideal for teenagers hungry for something raw and angry. The 2024 production directed by Rebecca Frecknell wants to spark conversations about the connections between 1930s Germany and today, and dresses the characters in contemporary clothes. Themes of choosing to stand up for what you believe in will resonate with high schoolers. The production runs 2 hours and 45 minutes, with an optional hour long pre-show before curtain time. 


For the high schooler who’s obsessed with today’s rock stars like Harry Styles and Billie Eilish, who’s done extensive research to figure out who a Taylor Swift song is really about, or who loves Daisy Jones & The Six, this behind-the-scenes look at the recording of a fictional album in 1976 will be a huge crowd pleaser. Its sharply crafted characters, strong humor, and amazing original songs by Will Butler are sure to impress. Older generations in your group will love the allusions to Fleetwood Mac recording Rumours, and the Beatles’ Get Back documentary. Note that the show is period-accurate and includes extensive drug abuse, as well as adult language and intense emotional abuse among the band’s artists. We pinky-promise that the show’s 3 hour runtime flies by, leaving you wanting even more. 

…and for the kid who says they ‘hate theater’ 

The Book of Mormon

The key to this show’s success, now running on Broadway for 13 years, is its sense of humor, refreshingly brutal and snarky. Written by the South Park team, it’s foul-mouthed, juvenile, and crass, perfect for kids too embarrassed or annoyed by the razzle dazzle of Broadway. (It’s okay – jazz hands aren’t for everyone.) Its irreverent humor will entertain the Dimension 20, Rick and Morty, or even PewDiePie fran in your life. It runs 2 hours and 30 minutes with a