In a time where toddlers are confusing hard copy magazines for non-responsive iPads, and where our five year olds can navigate a cell phone like any other adult, it’s probably fair to say that live theatre can offer an exciting and refreshing experience for today’s little ones. It’s true! Their favorite stories literally come to life, and it happens on a much grander scale than a 5-inch screen. But the medium of entertainment is not the only changing variable—live theatre happens in public. With other people. Elbow to elbow. The thought of a less-than-desirable reaction from your child can make any good parent hesitant to hit the box office, but have faith, ye moms and dads! We have tips, and a fantastic “practice” event too!
Tip #1 Prepare Your Child for the Trip
Explain to him or her that this is a different type of activity, where they will see real people on a stage to tell a story. Lay out the expectations, like remembering to sit still and no talking during the performance. And most importantly, familiarize him or her with the characters and the plot. If there’s a book or soundtrack about the play, great!
Tip #2 Timing, Timing, Timing
Does your child nap regularly? If so, be mindful of matinee performance times. Be sure he or she is well rested and fed before attending the performance. A cranky, tired, hungry child can lead to audience disruption, and a sleeping child won’t get to enjoy the show! And don’t worry about finishing snacks in the lobby. You can bring them in the theatre. Quiet snacks are best, and can also be purchased at our theatre concessions.
Tip #3 Keep It Comfy
Kids can be easily distracted, and one of the easiest distractions to avoid is uncomfortable clothing. Cute outfits won’t matter once the house lights lower, so bring out the cotton wear! Also, don’t be afraid to inquire about booster seats. The Orpheum, State, and Pantages theatres have them available for our shorter patrons in limited numbers, but if you’re worried about your little one’s sight lines, feel free to bring a cushion. And if anything, bring THE blankie.
Tip #4 The Early Bird Doesn’t ALWAYS Get the Worm
Arrival time is key. If you get there too early, you might have an antsy kid who has probably lost interest. If you arrive too late, your child may feel rushed, which might not allow for time to settle into the atmosphere. Use about ten minutes before the show starts to use the bathroom, and provide a quiet activity for them to do in their seat while they wait. To the coloring book aisle!
Tip #5 Keep It Going!
Live theatre can be exciting, even during intermission and after the show. Feel free to take your child up to see the orchestra pit during intermission, and certainly engage them in conversations about the show after you leave. It will help to cap what was hopefully a very positive and fun experience for you and your child!
Tip #6 Check with us (or your other favorite theatre)
Always check with the theatre you plan on attending to see if there are any age recommendations, amenities or policies for bringing children to the theatre. For an example you can refer to Hennepin Theatre Trust’s age recommendations for Broadway productions and kids’ shows. The theatre always welcomes any questions you have!
Interested in having your child participate in a Hennepin Theatre Trust event this fall? Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is coming to the Orpheum Theatre in October, and in celebration of this classic fairytale story, we are offering the event, Little Royalty Tea at the IDS Crystal Court on October 13 from 11AM-1PM. Enjoy a lovely afternoon with Hennepin Theatre Trust and your favorite Disney Princes and Princesses! There will be delicious treats, Disney music compliments of the Wayzata High School Orchestra, and a classical Viennese Waltz dance instruction. This is an event fit for a royal family! Learn more.