Can These Shows Make Our Kids Better People?

Show-Score | By Barbara Kempe | Jun 26, 2017

The theater can be a wonderful place to engage young minds with complex social issues. Here are 11 productions that can get your child inspired and ready to change the world. 

"Kinky Boots" "Kinky Boots" | By Cylla von Tiedemann

Like so many people, I read "A Raisin in the Sun" when I was in high school, and I was moved by Lorraine Hansberry's tale of a financially struggling African-American family in racially segregated Chicago. But as a teen growing up in a small Hudson Valley town, I knew few families that had these challenges. The play was powerful, but the ideas were abstract.
 
Then my class took a field trip to see a production of "Raisin" in Albany, N.Y., and it all made sense. Watching actors bring the story to life made me internalize and understand the characters' experiences in a way I couldn't while simply reading words on a page. I was captivated by their struggles, but even more importantly, I wanted to do something about it. Seeing the play inspired me to see people differently. It helped me begin to develop a social conscience.
 
Fast-forward a generation, and my 14 year-old daughter is about to see "Kinky Boots" for the fourth time. It's her favorite show. She loves it more than "Hamilton," which is significant for a New York City theater kid. When I asked her why "Kinky Boots" makes her cash in her birthday and Christmas money, she said: "It makes me want to be a better person."
 
To me, that's an incredible reminder that the theater is a wonderful place to engage kids in social issues and help them become responsible, compassionate citizens.
 
With that in mind, here are 11 productions that may inspire kids to change the world. Let's keep this list growing; if you see a show that fits the bill, then please mention it in the comments.
 

BROADWAY

1984


Hudson Theatre, 145 W. 44th St. between 6th Ave and Broadway

Ages: Older teens (violence, disturbing themes, some gore)
Topics explored: the role of government; personal freedom


The Band's Visit 

Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St. between Broadway and 8th Ave
Ages: 13+ (minor profanity, topic may not be interesting to younger children)
Note: This shows a hit Off Broadway, and it will begin Broadway previews on October 7. There's a Show-Score Social on October 15.


Dear Evan Hansen


Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St. between Broadway and 8th Ave.

Ages: 13+ (suicide, minor profanity)
Topics explored: bullying; the power of social media
Note: There are currently nine Show-Score Socials available for this show!


Kinky Boots


Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 W. 45th St. at 8th Ave.

Ages: 15+ (mild profanity, complex political arguments that may not interest younger children)
Topics explored: LGBT equality; general tolerance


Oslo

Already closed
Oslo
871 reviews
85
Overall Score

Vivian Beaumont Theater, 150 W. 65th St. at Amsterdam Ave.

Ages: 10+ (minor sexual themes)
Topics explored: religious and cultural tolerance; patriotism



OFF-BROADWAY AND BEYOND

Avenue Q


New World Stages, 340 W. 50th St. between 8th and 9th Ave.

Ages: 14+ (sexual and adult themes; profanity)
Topics explored: race; LGBT equality; general tolerance


Black Angels Over Tuskegee


St. Luke's Theatre, 308 W. 46th St. at 8th Ave. 

Ages: 8+ (nothing inappropriate, but topic may not interest very young children)
Topics explored: race; patriotism


Conservation Theater: Fresh From Africa
The Flamboyan Theater, 107 Suffolk St.

Ages: 8+ (nothing inappropriate, but topic may not interest very young children)
Topics explored: wildlife conservation; environmental issues
Note: "Fresh From Africa" has limited performances, so make sure you book your tickets. You can purchase them here


Cost of Living


New York City Center, 131 W. 55th St. between 6th and 7th Ave.

Ages: 16+ (profanity, brief nudity)
Topics explored: physical disability; race; class
Note: Closes July 16


A Raisin in the Sun


Tato Laviera Theatre, 240 E. 123rd St. at 2nd Ave.

Ages: 14+ (adult themes)
Topics explored: race; class


Sistas: The Musical


St. Luke's Theatre, 308 W. 46th St. at 8th Ave.

Ages: 12+ (light adult themes)
Topics explored: civil rights; feminism


We're always looking for new ways to inspire kids to change the world. Are there any other shows that you would add to this list? Comment below!


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