The theatre is an incredible resource that we are lucky to have. It is one of the oldest pastimes in the world. People have been performing — and enjoying the performances of others — since the earliest civilizations.
However, if you have kids, the theatre might be the farthest thing from your idea of a good time. Kids are often hard to contain in small spaces, like theatre chairs. Plus, they have shorter attention spans making it hard for them to pay attention for an entire show.
Even though these can be limiting factors, the theatre is something every child should experience. We are lucky here in the Twin Cities to have the Hennepin Theatre Trust. With three historic theatres under the umbrella of the trust, you are sure to find a show and venue your family can enjoy.
The Hennepin Theatre Trust believes in furthering “the cultural and economic vitality of Minnesota.” Part of this plan is educational programming, as well as events that appeal to children and families. Children’s theatre is part of their vision.
Why Take Children to the Theatre?
You might be surprised how beneficial children’s theatre is for a child’s development. Numerous studies about arts education show that theatre enhances everything from school performance, creativity, culture, patience, morals, communication, and imagination.
Children who are exposed to theatre and arts are more likely to do community service and less likely to drop out of school. Creative activities use both hemispheres of the brain, and as a result, are just as important as math and science.
Children’s theatre fosters creative-thinking. Children also learn about different cultures, backgrounds, and to respect different points of view at the theatre. Kids often learn empathy and how to take another’s perspective.
Taking your child to the theatre will teach them patience, albeit try your patience as well! The more you go, the better they will be. Because the stories in theatre are about different topics, your child will learn about new, and sometimes difficult, situations. They will also learn how to deal with these things, especially as you discuss with them.
Theatre will expose children to a plethora of new vocabulary words, and alternate communication methods such as acting, music, dancing, and scenography. Finally, the theatre will pique children’s imagination. The theatre is the single best place to explore their creativity.
What’s Playing This Year at Hennepin Theatre Trust?
While children could attend many of the shows playing throughout the year, a variety of shows are intended for, or more suitable for, a younger audience.
- Disney’s DCappella. March 6, 2019. Created by Disney and contemporary a cappella legend Deke Sharon (Pitch Perfect, The Sing-Off), the tour will appeal to fans of both Disney and a cappella with their modern a cappella versions of Disney hits.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. March 6-17, 2019. From the classic Roald Dahl book, Willy Wonka is opening his marvelous and mysterious chocolate factory…to a lucky few. That includes Charlie Bucket, whose bland life is about to burst with color and confection beyond his wildest dreams. He and four other golden ticket winners will embark on a mesmerizing joyride through a world of pure imagination. Now’s your chance to experience the wonders of Wonka like never before – get ready for Oompa-Loompas, incredible inventions, the great glass elevator, and more, more, more at this everlasting showstopper!
- PJ Masks, March 19, 2019. Watch Catboy, Owlette, and Gekko along with their new friend PJ Robot, as they try to save the day from the sneaky villains – Romeo, Night Ninja, and Luna Girl! Leaping, flipping and climbing – live on stage! Complete with your favorite music and brand new songs you’ve never heard before!
- Anastasia. March 24-April 5, 2019. The romantic and adventure-filled new musical Anastasia will transport you from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s as a brave young woman sets out on a journey to discover the mystery of her past.
- Frozen. May 13-31, 2019. As if you need a description…Frozen is the timeless tale of a family pulled apart by a mysterious secret. As one sister struggles to find her voice and harness her powers within, the other embarks on an epic journey to bring her family together once and for all. An unforgettable theatrical experience filled with sensational special effects, stunning sets and costumes, and powerhouse performances, Frozen is everything you want in a musical.
Tips for Taking Your Kids to the Theatre
- Check the content. Many shows are intended for children. However, that doesn’t mean you are limited only to these. Call the theatre and ask about any other shows that interest you. The theatre will help you understand if the show is age-appropriate. In particular, they will let you know if the themes, as well the atmosphere, is suitable for kids.
- Buy tickets ahead of time. Buying tickets beforehand will allow you to get the best seats at the best price. Plus, shows can sell out.
- Build up the show. Come up with some fun activities to create interest in the show before you go. Check out the library for some themed books, or watch an educational movie on the topic.
- Get there early. Allow more time than you need to get there. Some theatres will make you wait until intermission to enter the theatre if you miss curtain time. Do a little research on parking in the area before you go. Allow plenty of time to get to the theatre, park, get your tickets, and get to your seats. Kids add some time to everything.
- Go to the bathroom before the show. As you’re arriving early, allow time to use the restroom before you find your seats. You will not want to miss some of the show to let a little one empty their bladder.
- Talk about the show afterward. On the trip home, ask your children questions that require more than a one-word answer. Ask them their thoughts on the costumes, which character they would want to play, how would they change the story, etc.
After you have experienced your first show with your kids, start researching for the next one! Check out the Hennepin Theatre Trust. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you will find!