Some of my favorite memories from my childhood involve my sister and I heading off to the theater with my mom to see the ballet or a concert or musical. (To this day, I can still remember touching the "junkyard" on the set of Cats.) At Christmastime, we'd get all dressed up in our velvet dresses and patent leather Mary Janes and trek through the snow to see The Nutcracker at Place des Arts. I never tired of it and the tradition became one that was very special to me. Now that I have little ones of my own, I've taken to exposing them to the magic of the performing arts as well, especially around the holidays.
So far I've take my crew to see the children's performances of The Nutcracker and Sweet Honey in the Rock, a Kwanzaa show and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. They've had fun going to these shows and I hope that as they get older, they'll come to appreciate the performing arts as much as I do.
Because my kids are ages 6, 4 and 2, the idea that taking little ones to the theater might be challenging is not lost on me! Here are some tips that will hopefully help make your trip to the show go smoothly:
- Choose an appropriate show. Be realistic when deciding what performance you're planning to attend. One that's three hours long or that is entirely a symphony orchestra p]]rformance with no action or other entertainment would not be the best choice. The Nutcracker ballet that we went to was designed for children and was interactive, with cast members running through the aisles. After the performance, the children were invited on stage to take photos in front of the big Christmas tree and talk with the Sugarplum Fairies. It was perfect.
- Prepare them in advance. We're big fans of reading the book that the performance we're going to see is based on. This works well because kids like familiarity and being able to follow along with the story engages them and lessens the chances that they'll be confused/scared/uncomfortable. The movie version works just as well too!
- Be flexible. Sometimes, even all the preparation in the world can't prevent meltdowns or an upset tummy or a freak reaction to a weird-looking costume. In those cases, you'll have to ready to roll with the punches. Whether it means leaving the show at intermission, watching most of it on the monitors in the lobby or leaving the building altogether, make sure that your mindset is flexible going in. Oh and choosing a show with reasonably priced tickets helps to swallow that pill easier!