Sunday, June 26, 2011

What to See on Broadway in 2011

For the past few years I have listed my recommendations for people coming to New York to see a Broadway show. Below are my most up-to-date choices for June 2011. While there are a number of noteworthy productions, many of the top shows are continuously sold out and, therefore, advance planning is in order.

So, what are my top suggestions? I have broken them down into five categories:

Tikes – ages 6-9
Tweens – ages 10-13
Teen – ages 14-17
Young Adults – 18+ years

When I make a recommendation it is usually with the understanding that an individual or family has not been to the Broadway stage very often. I am looking at shows I might think the occasional theater-goer would enjoy.

I lean towards the newer shows, but this is not a knock against some of the old-timers such as Mamma Mia and Phantom of the Opera. However, this is all an inexact science with numerous variables to consider. For example, a Tween girl will probably love Wicked, but a boy…? Conversely, a Tween or Teen boy might be enthralled with the spectacle of Spider-Man, but a girl…? Other considerations -- Is one seeking a musical comedy or more serious production? What might appeal to two or three age groups at the same time? What about a mature eleven year old girl? What do we do about her? Etc. Etc.

I have not included such shows as The Book of Mormon, Jersey Boys, The Lion King, or Wicked as any of the primary choices since these shows are almost always sold out and you would have to pay a king’s ransom to acquire decent seats (Jersey Boys has been more available, but is still at 97%-98% capacity). I have included some of these shows at the end of each category under the heading – “IF AVAILABLE/LONG-RANGE PLANNING.” If one of these productions is available, disregard my rankings and scoop up the tickets pronto! If you are planning a Broadway trip down the road, it will be easier to procure tickets to these hard-to-get shows. Just expect to pay full price.

Speaking of procuring tickets, there are a number of ways to obtain theater tickets quite cheaply. You can refer to a previous blog I wrote.

The only non-musical I have included on my list is War Horse. If tickets are available – go! Fortunately, what was suppose to be a limited engagement is now an open-ended run.

Foul language is very subjective. I had a parent email me concerned about Billy Elliot. Yes, there are language issues with that musical, but nothing unheard of in middle and high schools across the country. And Billy Elliot is such a great show—the music, the dancing—I would not overlook the production because some of the young kids are cursing. The revival of Hair, coming back for a summer run, might cause some trepidation. The Book of Mormon is in a “language” category all by itself. If you or your children enjoy South Park and are not bothered by the language, then The Book of Mormon is just up your alley.

Within the listings there is considerable overlap. For example, The Lion King could enthrall everyone, from TIKES to ADULTS. The age ranges of each category can be flexible at either end of the spectrum so a TWEEN may in fact be quite comfortable in a YOUNG ADULT show. You may scratch your head about why I left a certain production off a category. For example, Chicago is not listed even though it has been playing for years and continues to do well at the box office. But Chicago is getting a bit old in the tooth and there are more worthy shows to plop down your money for. Finally, just because a musical is not on my lists does not mean it is undeserving of your patronage. Remember, these are my opinions. Shows that I have previously reviewed are linked to that review. So, without further ado…drum roll please…

TIKES (6-9 years old)

There use to be many Broadway shows for this age group, but the recommendations are now down to:
  1. Mary Poppins – When I saw the show there was a bevy of very young children directly in front of me. They didn’t make a peep. Enough said.
  2. Spider-Man – For TIKES at the older level. There are some scary moments when the monsters start attacking New York City. Not a great show, but with all the high-flying inside the theater the kids will be enthralled.

TWEENS (10-13 years old) This is always a difficult category since, as parents know, a lot of changes are percolating inside of tweens. Are they a young or mature tween?

  1. Billy Elliot – Not consistently selling out these days. Excellent score by Elton John and the dancing is some of the best on Broadway. TWEENS will be able to identify with the kids. Adults will find the story gripping.
  2. Sister Act – When the action is inside the convent, Sister Act is a spirited, lively and entertaining Broadway musical.
  3. The Addams Family – I found the show, based on the New York cartoons of Charles Addams, inoffensive and mildly amusing. TWEENS will probably like it because of the ghoulish nature of the source material.
  4. How to Succeed in Business – I was disappointed with the show, but if your TWEENS are huge Harry Potter fans this would be a popular choice.
  5. Spider Man – see under TIKES.
  6. Phantom of the Opera – Like the Energizer Bunny this Andrew Lloyd Webber warhorse goes on and on and on. Very theatrical with one of Webber’s most melodic and recognizable scores. Might be a bit scary. And where else would you find a crashing chandelier.
IF AVAILABLE/LONG-RANGE PLANNING (in order) - Wicked, or The Lion King.

TEENS (14-17 years old)

  1. Hair – One of the seminal rock musicals with another classic score. Youthful, energetic cast makes this a must see. Some language issues and nudity.
  2. Billy Elliot – see under TWEENS.
  3. Memphis – characters you care about, excellent performances and solid score.
  4. How to Succeed in Business – I was disappointed with the show and while Daniel Radcliffe gives it his all his casting of J. Pierpont Finch was all-wrong. However, a must for Harry Potter fans.
  5. Sister Act – see under TWEENS.
  6. The Addams Family – see under TWEENS.
  7. Spider-Man – see under TWEENS.
  8. Mamma Mia – I thoroughly enjoyed Mamma Mia, but this recommendation is ONLY if you are an ABBA fan.
  9. The Phantom of the Opera – see under TWEENS.
IF AVAILABLE/LONG-RANGE PLANNING (in order) – The Book of Mormon, War Horse, Wicked, or The Lion King.

YOUNG ADULTS (18+ years old)

  1. Hair – see under TEENS.
  2. Memphis – see under TEENS.
  3. Anything Goes – a bit low-key, but when Sutton Fosters revs up her dancing shoes and singing voice the show really heats up.
  4. Billy Elliot – see under TWEENS.
  5. How to Succeed in Business – see under TEENS.
  6. Sister Act – see under TWEENS.
  7. Mamma Mia – see under TEENS.
  8. The Addams Family – see under TWEENS.
  9. Phantom of the Opera – see under TWEENS.
  10. Rock of Ages – retro, 1980’s power rock musical. For the classic rock crowd.
IF AVAILABLE/LONG-RANGE PLANNING (in order) – The Book of Mormon, War Horse, Wicked, or The Lion King.


  1. Anything Goes – see under YOUNG ADULTS.
  2. Memphis – see under TEENS.
  3. Billy Elliot – see under TWEENS.
  4. Sister Act – see under TWEENS.
  5. Phantom of the Opera – see under TWEENS.
  6. Mamma Mia – see under TEENS.
  7. The Addams Family – see under TEENS.
  8. How to Succeed in Business – see under TEENS.
IF AVAILABLE/LONG-RANGE PLANNING (in order) – The Book of Mormon, War Horse, Jersey Boys, or Wicked.

Still unsure? Email me at with your specific situation and I can see what I can recommend.


teehee said...

Jersey Boys is no longer selling out constantly and is on TKTS a few times a week these days. said...


That's good. The last few times I've been at the TKTS Booth it has not been on the boards. I just checked the "Weekly Grosse" on and it is still at 97% or 98% capacity. So there is hope for people standing in line. I will also amend my blog post. Thanks.