It’s never too young for the theater. Shakespeare, Beckett, Wilde, Miller…well maybe for the youngsters it’s best to start with puppets, princesses and interactive shows that really bring the theater to life. Here are our picks for the 9 best places in Los Angeles to catch a show that’ll leave little ones smiling so big they will be theater aficionados for life.
photo credit: Nerdmelt Theater
A sketch comedy show for kids – with puppets! If that’s not enough to sell you, how about a cast of comedians from iO, Second City, Groundlings, and UCB, along with puppeteers from Broadway’s Avenue Q? Your kiddos will love the music, comedy, and of course, amazing puppetry. It’s a spectacular explosion of entertainment for all ages, where you’ll leave as entertained and enthralled as the kids.
When: Monthly shows, check website for times.
Where: The Nerdmelt Theater, 7522 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood
Cost: Tix are $8 in advance, $10 at the door for adults. Kids under 12 get in free.
photo credit: A Faery Hunt
Your tinies will love this interactive show, with sweet songs, talking (and yelling) back at performers and plenty of gross our humor that entertains some, while others worship the beautiful fairies. You’ll feel good about the positive messages, as kids learn about themes like forgiveness, kindness and respect in an entertaining way. Plus, it’s extra cool to see theater outside, where little wrigglers don’t have to sit still. Most shows are performed in parks across LA, except for performances at the Sunset Theatre Company and the Whitefire Theatre.
When: Shows start promptly at 10:30 a.m. on weekends. See website for details.
Where: See website for locations.
Cost: $15 per ticket at Griffith Park and the Sunset Theatre Company, $12.50 per ticket at all other locations. Kids under 2 are free.
photo credit: Bob Baker Marionette Theater’s facebook Page
Bob Baker Marionette Theater
Truly an LA institution, the Bob Baker Marionettes have been entertaining children of all ages for the past 53 years. These imaginative shows are brimming with color and amazing puppetry, and little ones are enchanted as they sit right up close to the puppets to catch the action. There’s even a special Halloween Hoop-De-Doo show in October with skeletons and ghosts and a Holiday Spectacular in November & December. You won’t see anything like this anywhere else, from the beautifully crafted marionettes to the truly talented puppeteers.
When: Thursday & Friday at 10:30 a.m., Saturday & Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Where: 1345 W. First Street, Downtown LA
Cost: $15 per ticket. Kids 2 and under are free.
Your little one will be engaged in the entire theater experience here, as this not-for-profit volunteer organization programs shows for kids that they really want to watch. The upcoming season has family-friendly shows like White Christmas, Fancy Nancy: The Musical, Cat in the Hat and Aladdin Jr. Sometimes the regular theater has shows that older kids will go crazy for, like Legally Blonde: The Musical (coming in the summer of 2015). Bending & snapping is exercise, right?
When: See website for dates.
Where: 2627 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica
Cost: $20/adult, $15/child 12 and under
photo credit: Theatre West’s facebook page
Storybook Theatre has been a part of Theatre West since 1984, and they feature non-threatening (and we know how important that is when the lights go down, and lots of tales for kids have creepy characters), interactive musical theater that’s perfect for kids age 3 to 9. The whole family will love the musical retelling of Little Red Riding Hood – complete with a funny wolf and loads of audience participation (from October 11th, 2014 to March 7th, 2015). Plus, if it’s your little one’s birthday, you can schedule a birthday party to be held directly after the Saturday show, where kids get to celebrate ON the stage. What we like best about this is the professional actors who really know how to put on a great show and interact with the audience.
When: Saturdays at 1 p.m.
Where: 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. West, Universal City
Cost: $12/adult, $10/child
photo credit: Puppet State Theatre Company
Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (The Wallis) officially opened its doors to the public in October 2013. Throughout the year, they present several family-friendly shows with their Theater for Young Audiences division. Fabulous companies from across the world are showcased, and you won’t find better theater anywhere in town (even for grownups, honest). Treat your kiddos to truly entertaining and thought provoking shows like The Man Who Planted Trees, White, The Queen of Colors – and for slightly bigger kids there’s Into the Woods (to see before the movie comes out!). This theater will engage and inspire you and your kids – it’s the real deal.
When: See website for show schedule and times.
Where: 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills
Cost: Varies by show
photo credit: Stefani T. via yelp
This company caters to families with shows that are specifically gears toward certain age groups. “Twinkle Theatre” is designed for a wee one’s first experience of theater, and is perfect for babies and toddlers age one to five. Then there are “Mini Musicals and Pint-size Plays”, which are for kids age three and up, where audience involvement like booing and cheering is hugely encouraged. For older kids age seven and up, try out the “Junior Broadway” shows, which feature interactive songs and a bigger theatrical experience. Check out Sleeping Beauty and Willy Wonka this fall. Your kids will love the recognizable shows here, and every age can find just the right theatrical experience.
When: Weekend matinees. Check website for details.
Where: 1404 3rd St. Promenade, Santa Monica
Cost: $12/child, $20/adult. VIP tickets are $30/adult, $20/child (reserved best seats in the house).
photo credit: M C via yelp
Glendale Centre Theatre
This is a small, friendly theater with seats that surround the stage in the center of the room. You’ll love the cozy atmosphere and intimate performance space that leaves not a bad seat in the house (very important, as anyone who has spent a show with a kiddo who “can’t see!” complaining on their lap knows). Kids will go wild for shows like this fall’s musical version of The Princess and the Pea – especially since audience members are encouraged to dance to the tunes.
When: Most weekend matinees at 11 a.m., but check the website.
Where: 324 N. Orange Street, Glendale
Cost: $12.50 per ticket
Photo Credit: The Nine O’Clock Players Facebook Page
Nine O’Clock Players
This theater company performs for school groups, making sure every child in the city can get an introduction to live theater, so it has a special place in our heart. It’s a lovely old theater, and all the shows are just for kids. Check out performances of Aladdin and The Tortoise and the Hare – it’s the perfect way to support local theater and have a fun day out.
When: Weekends at 2 p.m.
Where: 1367 N. St. Andrews Place, Hollywood
Cost: $12 per ticket
Have a ball treating your tiniest theater critics to a live show. Let us know where you go and what you see!