Summer’s over, school’s back in session, kids brain’s are chugging back in gear and the fall theater season is upon us! We love live theater because, well, it’s not a screen, a TV or an IMAX, yet it’s a performance that will enchant kids and grown-ups alike. Scroll down for the best of the season perfect for your kiddos (and you).

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

An American In Paris
It’s got rhythm, it’s got music, if you’ve got tickets, who could ask for anything more? This Broadway adaption of the 1951 MGM movie musical (starring Gene Kelly) wowed Broadway, racking up 4 Tonys, including Best Choreography, (which is exactly what you want in a musical). The show is a great introduction for young theater goers as it’s full of dance and romance and delightful music. George Gershwin’S toe-tapping, heart-pumping songs include classics like “Someone to Watch over Me”, “S’Wonderful” and “I Got Rhythm”. The setting is Post-World War II Paris and the set designer won a Tony for his smashing rendition of the city of love. Kids will love the boats on the Seine, the stars, the rooftops of Paris. The story is about an American-GI turned struggling painter who falls for a beautiful Parisian.  Romantic complications ensue and everyone feels the need to dance about it. Best for ages 10 and up, no children under 5 allowed.

Runs: September 12 to October 8, 2017
SHN Orpheum Theatre
1192 Market St. San Francisco
888-746-1799
Online: shnsf.com

Disney’s The Little Mermaid
Disney Theatricals brings the underwater world to life at San Jose’s Center for the Performing Arts with The Little Mermaid, the stage musical. Families will be excited to see Ariel, Sebastian, Flounder and Prince Eric come alive and find out what kind of stagecraft can make sea life swim and mermaids turn into young women. And what awesome costume can turn an actress into an evil octopus witch.

Runs: September 26-October 1 2017

Center for the Performing Arts
255 Almaden Blvd. San Jose, CA 95113
800-982-ARTS
Online: ticketmaster.com

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Hey, parents! can it be 50 years since Charlie Brown went from comic book to Broadway musical?  Santa Rosa, home to Charles M Schulz and the Charles M. Schulz Museum is staging a 50th-anniversary production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Time to introduce another generation to  The Peanuts gang.  Every family has a kid who’s picked on or a kid who’s crabby or a kid who still needs his lovey—or a weird dog.

Runs: Aug 18 – Sep 17, 2017

6th Street Playhouse – G.K. Hardt Theatre & Studio
52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa, CA
707-523-4185 Ext 1
Online: 6thstreetplayhouse.com

Photo Credit: SHN/Deen van Meer

Aladdin
The kids’ theater event that will no doubt thrill tykes to teens (and above) is Disney’s Aladdin, which is coming to San Francisco just in time for Thanksgiving break and Christmas vacation. This Broadway musical is based on the 1992 animated classic, which, if you haven’t yet shown your kids, you simply must. As you recall, Robin Williams voiced the magically delicious Genie who grants wishes to Aladdin who swoops up Princess Jasmine for a magic carpet ride. How will all this transpire live and onstage, you ask? The magic of theater. Smoke, swords, and spectacle will captivate the young but the theater extols that kids under 5 are not admitted. And this is probably because the play is 2 and ½ hours long and that’s a very long time to sit still when other people are flying.

Runs: November 1, 2017–January 7, 2018
SHN Orpheum Theatre
1192 Market St. San Francisco
888-746-1799
Online: shnsf.com

 

Photo credit: Berkeley Repertory Theatre/ Cheshire Isaacs

Ain’t Too Proud to Beg
If you’ve raised them right, your kids might like to shimmy to the Motown sound. In which case you should bring your (older) kids to the world premiere of Ain’t Too Proud to Beg, a new musical about the Temptations at Berkeley Rep. The chart-topping five-some were pretty much the Black Beatles in their day and their songs from the be-boppy “My Girl” to the funky “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and “Ball of Confusion” fuel the action in this lively Juke-Box musical. With the music, the spectacle and the dance, the show will appeal to anyone groovy, but its best for older kids because the play is set in tumultuous times and the Detroit race riots, King’ assassination, politics, social turmoil and drug addiction. Plus flashy costumes, love songs and Rhythm and Blues.

Runs: August 31–October 8, 2017
Berkeley Rep: Roda Theatre
2025 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
Online: Berkeleyrep.org

Photo credit: Nigel Parry/CPi Syndication

Hamlet
As the days grow shorter and darkness descends, ’tis a good time to see a Shakespearean tragedy —with your teenager or precocious tween. Sooner or later, your teenager will be reading Hamlet and ACT’s season-opener will be a top-notch intro. What with the constant pressure from his dad who literally haunts him, an on-and-off relationship with a girl and a big job to do that he keeps putting off, teens may well relate to the plight of Prince Hamlet. Obie Award winner John Douglas Thompson (who played Louis Armstrong in ACT’s Satchmo last year) stars in the title role.

Runs September 20–October 15, 2017
American Conservatory Theater at The Geary Theater
405 Geary Street, San Francisco
415-749-2228
Online: act-sf.org

Photo credit: SF Shakes/Miorel Pali

Hamlet, Shakespere in the Park
Coincidentally, SF Shakespeare Festival is also presenting Hamlet in September. For this production, you can have a picnic on a blanket and not mind (too much) if the kids talk. Drink some wine as the baby naps during the long soliloquies. Or take a walk when the ghost of Claudius is too scary for your 10-year-old.

September 2 through September 17
Free Shakespeare in the Park: Hamlet
Civil War Parade Ground, Main Post, The Presidio
Graham St, San Francisco, CA
Online: sfshakes.org

Photo credit: Ben Krantz Studios

Sister Act
Nuns letting it all hang out is pretty much always fun to watch and this musical, in which nuns jump, jive and holler to the heavens is sure to be a blast. Before the 2011 Broadway musical, there was Sister Act the movie starring Whoopie Goldberg as a Reno lounge singer who witnesses a murder enters a witness protection program and becomes Sister Mary Clarence. If you show your kids the 1992 movie first, (it’s great!) you can help them spot St. Paul’s Church on Valley Street in Noe Valley. After laughing that Noe Valley ever played a ghetto, take in this feel-good, gospel-infused caper about a nun on the run.

September 22 – October 22
Berkeley Playhouse at The Julia Morgan Theater
2640 College Avenue
Berkeley, CA
510-845-8542
Online: berkeleyplayhouse.org

Annie
Berkeley Playhouse just may be the best place to see quality children’s theater and Annie is probably the most applauded children’s musical so this combo promises to be a winner. This rags to riches story about an orphan whose plucky personality wins her a happy ever after with oodles of money is a story that even very young theater goers can enjoy. The gruff Daddy Warbucks turns out to be a softy, the villain Miss Hannigan may be a drunken meanie, but she is a pretty funny and pretty harmless meanie. And the musical numbers are catchy tunes that may become playlist faves. Annie is a mustn’t miss.

Berkeley Playhouse at The Julia Morgan Theater
2640 College Avenue
Berkeley, CA
510- 845-8542
Online: berkeleyplayhouse.org

Photo Credit: SOTA/Heidi Alletzhauser

Ruth Asawa Holiday Spectacular
Theater kids and parents in the know know that San Francisco School of the Arts High School puts on some awesome shows.  The annual Holiday Show will wow the whole family from grandma to kindergartener. It’s especially fun for younger kids to see these  gifted high school students perform and adults are equally impressed by the caliber of talent. The Holiday Variety Show brings together many disciplines, showcasing dance, vocals, band, musical theater, media and even architecture. It all comes together as a spoof of a  1964 TV variety show. If last year is any indication (and it is) this will be spectacular.

Asawa SOTA – Dan Kryston Memorial Theater
55 Portola Drive, San Francisco
Online: sfsota.org

Photo credit: ACT/Kevin Berne

Christmas Carol
Go once or go every year, Charles Dickens’ Christmas ghost story could become a holiday habit. Little little kids might find the ghosts (Christmas past, present and future) kinda scary but slightly older kids will delight in the story of Scrooge who is scared straight. They might even notice the similarities between Scrooge and the Grinch. Get tickets early for this one. It sells out quick.

December 1–24, 2017
American Conservatory Theater at The Geary Theater
405 Geary Street, San Francisco
415-749-2228
Online: act-sf.org

What’s the first play you remember seeing? What play are you dying to show your kids?

–Erika Milvy