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11 Hot Broadway Shows Sure To Be a Hit With Your Teen

11 Hot Broadway Shows Sure To Be a Hit With Your Teen

The most common question I’m asked by parents visiting New York City is, “What Broadway shows should I see with my teen.” 

It’s a good question. Theater tickets are expensive these days, even off-Broadway. And if you see only one play while you’re in the city, you want it to be memorable for all the right reasons. So choosing a show requires some careful thought.

My family loves theater. We go to see plays for all of our birthdays and at the holidays and whenever we see a good deal on tickets for something on our want-to-see list. We like Broadway, of course, but we’re also open to off-Broadway shows, too, which often have seasoned Broadway actors in the cast.

This is a round-up of ongoing shows that the Teen Traveler and other NYC teens we know have liked and loved. I hope it will give you a sense of what appeals to the sensibilities of kids in the 12-18YO range. And maybe I’ll steer you toward some wonderful shows you would not have thought of.

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11 Top Broadway Shows Teens Love

On Broadway – Musicals & Dramas

Suffs!

The Music Box theater is the epicenter of Girl Power on Broadway this spring. Suffs! tells the story of how two rival suffragist movements worked in competition and in tandem to get the 21st Amendment passed so that women could vote.

The musical is upbeat, funny and rousing without being over the top. The young all-women cast brings a lot of energy to their roles. The one veteran actor is Jenna Colella, who stole the show as the pilot, Captain Bass, in Come From Away.

the playbill for the play suffs! showing women in early 20th centure clothes marching for their rights.

The audience is mostly female, not surprising. As positive and humorous as Suffs is, it touches on everything the women faced, including hunger strikes after some of them were arrested for picketing the White House. It looks at the way the movement’s mostly upper-class women both used and neglected women of color.

I think teens 15 and up will appreciate the story the most. Teen Traveler cautions against taking middle schooners, who might find a few short parts dismaying. If your young people are or soon will be old enough to vote, this is absolutely the show to take them to.

Merrily We Roll Along

This Steven Songheim revival stars Daniel Radcliffe, who might surprise you with his talent in Broadway musical, and Jonathan Groff, who had a recurring role in Glee and has starred in several musicals afterward. It’s a hot ticket and scheduled to run through early July.

Merrily We Roll Along follows three close friends from when they are ambitious, creative 20-somethings in NYC through to middle age, where career and romantic ups and downs have taken their toll. It’s a more classic musical than Teen Traveler usually goes for, and I wasn’t sure the plot would engage her, even with the male leads’ star power.

But she loved the music and the staging. She related to the young, aspiring versions of the characters. Even while she knew how things would wind up for them, she was still rooting for them. It’s a play older teens and parents can enjoy equally. Tweens who like musical theater will like the music and characters but will probably miss the nuances of the story.

Hadestown

An updated telling of a Greek myth set to a 1930s jazz-inflected score might not be the first thing you would take your kid to see, but NYC teens absolutely love Hadestown. Teen Traveler has friends who haven’t seen it yet but know all the songs. She describes this play as “awesome” and it gets constant play on her phone.

We had no idea what it was about when we got tickets, but several people with teens had recommended it to us as something parents and kids both like. 

a happy persephone sings to the ensemble about the joys of springtime in hadestown, a broadway show nyc teens really like

It’s the story of Orpheus and Eurydice set in the Great Depression. The staging is interesting. Hermes, the narrator, looks like a Harlem jazz club band leader in a silver lamé suit. The band is on stage during the show and there is only one set. Persephone is glamorous and resigned to her below-ground fate. Hades has a voice like Barry White. The music pulls you along.

We really hoped it would end differently than the original myth, but Hermes understands human nature too well for that to happen. If your kids don’t know the story, you might want to give them a synopsis.

If you are looking for the razzle-dazzle of Phantom or The Lion King, or want the happy ending of Mama Mia, this might not be the play for you. But if you want something interesting, well-done and not your typical musical, hop on the train to Hadestown.

Harry Potter & The Cursed Child

The Cursed Child has impressively cool sets and choreography and special effects that wowed us. The staging is a prime example of the magic Broadway can conjure when a show has serious money behind it.

It’s also a moving play that pulled us along. Plus, the time-travel element allows favorite Harry Potter characters — even dead ones — to make an appearance. 

a row of hogwarts students in black robes get their wands ready to duel -- purple smoke comes from the center character -- in harry potter & the cursed child

In my opinion, and Teen Traveler’s, The Cursed Child is not a children’s play. It deals with middle-age angst, complicated life choices, teen identity, living in the shadow of a parent’s legacy and more nuanced issues that will go over the heads of anyone under 11.

They’ve condensed the New York show so that you can now see it as a single play rather than two consecutive ones, which makes tickets way more affordable. But it’s still a very pricey ticket. Think twice before bringing your youngest Potter fans. 

And yes, it’s okay to wear your Hogwarts apparel. Teen Traveler (then 13) wore muggle-wear on the first night, but when she saw others, she donned her Ravenclaw robes and headband for night two.

MJ the Musical

I saw a 45-minute version of MJ: the Musical at an event I went to this fall. You have to take the dramatized story of Michael Jackson’s rise and fall with a grain of salt. But the dancing is the reason you go. I was very aware that I was watching someone imitating Jackson rather than the icon himself. But the choreography is energetic and highly appealing.

I think this falls into the category of musicals that parents want to see that teens will like. Your kids will know more of the music than you might expect. And they might actually know more of the Jackson 5 hits, which is now classic wedding and prom tunes, than Michael’s solo stuff. And they’ll like the dancing.

Wicked

Teen Traveler saw this play without us. She described Wicked as a modern teen melodrama with witches and flying monkeys (the two rival witches start out as best friends and at one point have a crush on the same boy).

glynda contemplates while elphaba looks on from a corn field in wicked, a broadway show with a strong teen sensibility.

She didn’t download any music from the show; not even “Gravity,” so it’s safe to say it doesn’t make her top-ten. But she really enjoyed seeing it. She says it’s a “safe choice” with older kids, tweens and teens because “it’s light and fun and the music has a pop sound.” 


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Off-Broadway

Many off-Broadway shows these days have big name stars and high production value and tickets can be as in-demand for popular off-Broadway shows as on-Broadway. And sometimes you’ll see something headed to Broadway before it gets there.

Don’t feel like you’re skimping on a great theater experience by looking beyond Times Square for a great play. The only you might be missing out on are the high ticket prices. Some off-Broadway tickets can be expensive but nowhere near the prices you’ll pay for the big musicals.

The Play that Goes Wrong

Teen Traveler was laughing so hard when we saw it that I’m surprised she could breathe. The Play That Goes Wrong begins as an Agatha-Christie-type parlor murder. But it soon devolves into an old-fashioned physical comedy with windows that stick, doors that open when they shouldn’t and a corpse that moves itself. 

a grandfather couch lays on the divan where the corpse should be as four players try to manage through the play that goes wrong, an off-broadway comedy tweens and teens find hilarious

This comedy has been running for a while and it’s easy to find inexpensive tickets. Even if you want to see a big musical, consider seeing this as well.

If you go, make sure that you’re in your seat a good 15 minutes early. Things start to “go wrong” before the play even starts. 

Blue Man Group

We were offered free tickets to this and I took them because I was curious to see what kids think of Blue Man Group these days. I can guarantee this mix of music, comedy and performance art will be like nothing your kids have seen before. 

It can be a very loud show. But Tween Traveler stuck noise-muffling headphones on and had a ball. Afterward she wondered how the heck she would describe it to her friends at school. It’s great for visitors with little or no English because there’s no dialogue at all.

The show’s theater, which sits on the border between Greenwich Village and the East Village, pretty far off Broadway. These are quintessential and historic NYC neighborhoods and have a lot of great, cheap restaurants. So take time to explore them before or after the show.

Read my full Review Should Your Take Your Kids to Blue Man Group?

Little Shop of Horrors

Before writing the music and lyrics for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and other feel-good Disney hits, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman wrote Little Shop of Horrors, a musical based on a bad 1950s horror movie about a people-eating plant bent on world domination.

My Teen and several others we know loved the black humor, bad botanical puns and catchy songs. She downloaded the cast recording as soon as she got home and listened to nothing else for a few weeks.

I first saw the show when I was about her age, in its premier run down on the Bowery (the original Skid Row). I saw it on Broadway, too where they had to make it a bit bigger and splashier.

I have to say I love the latest run, in a theater just west of the Broadway district. The B-horror-movie kitsch and exaggerated physical comedy work much better on a smaller stage. 

Give one of the songs a listen with this video.

Though it’s off-Broadway the tiny cast has been stellar and it hasn’t been an easy ticket to get. If you can score seats definitely go. 

Overheard From Friends

These are plays we haven’t gotten to yet or are not our cup of tea. But they’re popular and should be on your radar, too.

& Juliet

Shakespeare’s wife rewrites Romeo & Juliet and decides Juliet isn’t silly enough to kill herself over some guy. Instead, she escapes to Paris to become a club kid and find herself. & Juliet is a jukebox musical full of pop hits Max Martin has written for everyone from Katy Perry and Britney Spears to Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi.

and juliet matthew murphy photo

It previewed in November and should easily run through the summer. The word on the street is that the script is funny, the dance numbers are “Larger Than Life” and the whole play has been making audiences “Roar” during it’s run in London. It will give Six a run for its money. We know several teens hankering for tickets.

Six

six is a popular broadway show that appeals to teens with its outrageous costumes and plenty of girl power

Six garnered eight Tony nominations and is particularly popular with teenage girls. It’s the only show on Broadway with an all-female cast and all-female band. It has a strong Broadway-meets-pop sensibility fueled by costumes created by a designer who worked with the Spice Girls.

It’s not my teen’s scene at all, but it offers a good dose of girl power and it’s a good pick for teens and tweens who generally prefer pop music to show tunes. 

Tips for Discounts

As expensive as box office tickets are for Broadway shows, there are ample opportunities to find discounts. It’s easy to find inexpensive tickets to some shows and almost impossible for others. You’ll find more discounts in mid-fall and deep winter than in the summer and in December. Here are some sources I’ve used to get a break on ticket prices.

TKTS tickets are always exactly half-price and in my opinion they get the best seats of any discount dealer. I’ve always gotten center orchestra seats and no more than halfway back. Once I even got front row center!

You have to go to one of two TKTS booths in Manhattan and buy tickets for the same day (or the next day for matinées) and there are no guarantees of what they’ll have on any given day. I tend to keep an eye on TKTS live via the website or app to see what shows are showing up consistently.

If you have a few shows you’re interested in and can get to the booth promptly when it opens you have a good shot at tickets you want at a 50% discount.

• The Playbill website offers discounts, generally of 30%-40% on select plays. It usually has discounts for new shows in previews and long-running plays. 

It’s always worth checking to see what they have listed. The advantage of Playbill is that they provide a discount code you take to the show’s regular ticket vendor (like Ticketmaster) and from there you can choose your seats like any other ticket buyer.

Seatplan is an interesting and worthwhile website to check out. They offer discounts for select shows. But better still, for several popular plays, they have photos of the stage from different sections so you get a very real sense of the view you’d be paying for.

Today Tix offers roughly the same discount as Playbill but on a wider range of shows. I’ve bought tickets this way once or twice, but it’s not my favorite because they don’t tell you what seats you have until after you’ve completed the purchase. And I’ve gotten some pretty mediocre ones.

• I’ve only started using Seat Geek for Broadway tickets recently. It’s a verified reseller and tickets can sell at a discount or premium to face value, depending on demand. It’s the way to find seats to shows that you just can’t get tickets to otherwise. 

Some shows use Seat Geek as their main ticket venue and they’ll discreetly lower prices on slower days. For a Wednesday matinée in early November I got orchestra seats for Hadestown for $69.

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six, hadestown, the cursed child and little shop of horrors (clockwise from top left) are among the broadway and off-broadway shows teens love.

Photos courtesy of the shows, via Trip Advisor. Feature Photo via Pixabay. Suffs and Sweeney Playbill photo by FamiliesGo!