Tips On Taking Your Kids To The Theater

Chance and Hudson off to see "Matilda"

Chance and Hudson off to see "Matilda"

Chance leaned forward in his booster seat, transfixed by the Broadway production of the musical, “School of Rock.” His slightly younger brother Hudson, 8, who had recently started playing guitar, was equally engrossed in watching the story of a rock ’n’ roll-loving substitute teacher who inspires a class of children through the magic of music.

I've been taking my nephews to professional theater for about three years, and these experiential gifts have been rewarding for us all. But early on I grappled with the fundamental question: When do you take a child to the theater?

That’s the question I’m most asked as a theater writer by parents who want to bring the performing arts into their youngsters’ sports-, tech- and game-crammed lives. It’s not an easy call, either, when you want to ensure a memorable experience and when tickets for a professional theatrical show for a family can easily shoot into the three figures.

A lot has to do with the child, but a lot has to do with the parent, too: How much time a mom or a dad is willing to commit to talking to their kid about the theater experience, about the show they are about to see and about the production after they have seen it.

“I think preparing the kids for what they are about to see is most important,” says Henry Hodges, who acted in Hartford Stage’s productions of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Orphans’ Home Cycle” there and in New York and in Broadway’s “Mary Poppins.”

Hodges, 23, and co-author of the book “How to Act Like a Kid: Backstage Secrets of a Young Performer,” still vividly remembers his first Broadway show when he was 9, “The Phantom of the Opera.”

After "School of Rock" in Times Square