We have managed to see many Broadway shows over the past couple years. Here are our opinions of the shows currently playing on Broadway. We didn’t include summaries of the shows because that is easy to look up.
A couple notes on what we let our kids see before I start. We do not limit our children's show viewing based on an uncomfortable topic (war, LGBT, sex, drugs). Instead, I use the show as a door opener to talk about the topic and many times things go over their head if they are not ready for it. The "f word" does not bother us and would never be a factor in seeing a show. We are talking NY here, they are going to hear it on the street many times a day, so hearing it in a show is fine with us. I do gauge the content to determine at what age the show is appropriate and am very conscience of my two little ones tolerance for scary things. Whenever possible, one of us will try to see the show before we take them, and I always read about what we are going to see. Lastly, for the most part I do not really enjoy dark shows so we don’t usually go to them anyway. All of this is null and void if it is a show of a lifetime.
In order, here are our picks for the best shows on Broadway-
1a. Hamilton- There isn’t another show that is anything like this, or possibly never will be! The hype is justified and you will leave the theatre a new person. Every detail is amazing including the cast, music, choreography, story and history lesson. If you can plan far enough in advance you can get tickets for face value and they are worth every penny. Our kids have seen it in NYC and in Chicago and all 4 of them thought it was amazing! They all know all of the lyrics and have read the book telling about the writing. We have used it as a history springboard and have visited all of the Hamilton sights in NYC as well.
1b. Dear Evan Hansen- Again, a show that has everything done perfectly. It’s not a big spectacle like Hamilton, but it is equally amazing. If you have teens it is the most amazing opening to discuss everything they are bombarded with in our digital age. You will sob through this show as you grieve as a parent. The lead role is the most demanding role I have ever seen an actor perform and the music is the most lovely, touching songs ever. Our teen would rate it as her #1 for sure. This was an exception we made and let our two little girls see it so they could experience Ben Platt in a historic performance. The content was too deep for them but we had a nice discussion of how the events in the show relate to their age.
2. Come From Away- The most heartfelt show on Broadway. On a simple stage with minimal props the actors play multiple roles to tell the story of Gander Newfoundland after 38 planes were diverted there after 9/11. It is a story of kindness, acceptance, and everything that is good in people. The music is amazing and the casting magnificent. We paired it with a day at Ground zero and our kids left with a sense of what happened, both good and bad on those fateful days. Again, our kids sing all of the songs on a regular basis.
3. Hello Dolly- This show is a glorious production of big Broadway of the past. It has huge costumes, big scenes, amazing dancing and hilarious characters. Our kids were mesmerized from the first note. Our 10 year old requested to see it again and said it was equally good when Bette Midler wasn’t in the lead role.
4. Wicked- We have seen this in three waves as the kids got old enough to handle the scarier parts. It’s another huge show that gets it all correct. The story is great, the music is amazing and the flying witch seals the deal. The one downside is the size of the theatre. It’s huge so a seat too far away does not give you the same experience.
5. School of Rock—This is one of their all time favorites, even after seeing it 3 times. They love the story, the music and all of the amazing child actor/musicians. Again, another CD you can sign to for months after the show.
6. Aladdin—This show tops all of the Disney shows we have seen. It was filled with energy, laughter and amazing choreography.
7. Play that Goes Wrong—This was our surprise hit of the last year. It is so funny that you will leave with a side ache from laughing so hard. It is a play with in a play where everything goes wrong. The staging needed for the actors to not die, as walls are literally falling on them, is an amazing accomplishment in itself.
8. Kinky Boots—Don’t be fooled by the name and not consider it. This show is about accepting people for who they are, following your dreams and working together. Add in some amazing songs and what’s not to love. You will leave smiling from ear to ear.
9. Bronx Tale—A quality show that tells a great story of family and fittingly is set in the Bronx. There are some fight scenes and mob stuff that you may want to consider for younger kids. My daughter did get scared a couple times.
10. Book of Mormon—only for teens but another great show if you want to laugh. Our son would rank it higher than many of these other shows.
*** Frozen- It isn’t out yet but we happen to live in the city where they did the first run and we loved it. Our son found it funny enough to enjoy it despite it being "Frozen" and the girls (and a second teen who joined us) thought is was spectacular.
Our not favorite list—If you had no other choices, these shows would be fine, but with all that is on Broadway, I wouldn’t waste a night at any of them.
1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- the most disappointing show we have ever seen!
2. Cats- I love it, my kids all hated every second of it (not even the dance).
3. Waitress- Fine for adults, the affair with the doctor part takes if off my kids list.
4. Phantom- It may have been your favorite when there were very few choices, but there are so many better choices out there now.
5. Lion King- I’m going to get slack for this. I loved the World premiere of this many years ago but it didn’t do it for my 10 and 8 year old. Again, I think it is because of all the other shows that are playing.