Taking kids to the theater can be one of the most rewarding experiences for a parent. Seeing a performance live can be amazing for kids used to the flat screen of the TV. If you would like to take your kids to some fabulous children’s theater, here are some great options east of Seattle.
Bellevue Youth Theater
Address: 16661 Northup Way, Bellevue, WA 98008
Phone: (425) 452-7155
Age: 5 and up, depending on the show
Cost: $8 per ticket
This city-sponsored drama program for young people is very popular. The performances get rave reviews and are very kid-friendly. The shows are both traditional and current, like Anne of Green Gables, Thumbelina, and Rock & Roll High School (is your daughter still singing every word of “High School Musical”? Then this is for her!). The drama program is free for the kids learning to act, one of the few free programs in the country. Plus, you get to support kids while showing your own kids how fun it is to perform.
Thistle Puppet Theater
Address: 16661 Northup Way Bellevue, WA 98008
Phone: (206) 524-3388
Age: 3-12 years
Cost: $7 child; $9 adult
Not another hour of Dora the Explorer, you beg. No more Boohbah! How about a beautiful puppet show performed in the ancient Japanese style of Bunraku. The performers are dressed head to toe in black, so they disappear into the background and all you see are the amazing puppets. Stories like the Gingerbread Boy, Little Red Riding Hood, and traditional tales like Momotaro, make a great alternative to television that your kids will love.
Address: Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Ave, Kirkland, WA
Address: Renton Carco Theater, 1717 Maple Valley Highway, Renton, WA
Age: 3-10 years
This is an award-winning children’s theater, with amazing live productions of stories like the Three Little Pigs and Snow White. The 55-minute musicals are mixed with humor perfect for kids and parents alike, and tames the story a bit to take out some of the truly scary parts normally found in fairy tales. The costumes, set, and music rival any adult theater, and the acting, from some fantastic local performers, is top-notch. Storybook Theater was also named the best children’s theater on the Eastside in the 2009 Best of the Eastside reader’s poll. With performance locations in Kirkland and Renton, this storytime is good any time of day.
Youth Theater Northwest
Address: 8805 SE 40th St, Mercer Island, WA 98040
Phone: (206) 232-4145
Age: 3 and up
Cost: $13 per ticket, $15 opening night with gala
One of my favorite things is for kids to see other kids performing. This is one of those great examples of entertaining theater with kid performers. With musicals and plays aimed at younger audiences, you can check out shows like Seussical and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, for much less than a trip into the big city. Youth Theater Northwest also conducts classes, and as an added bonus, will help you host birthday parties- you come up with a theme like Fairies or Pirates, they will help create the fantasy! They will even conduct acting lessons at the party! Who knows? Maybe someday your child will be hearing, “And the Oscar goes to…”
Sprouts Children’s Theater at Second Story Repertory
Address: 16587 NE 74th St., in Redmond Town Center, Redmond, WA 98052
Phone: (425) 881-6777
Age: 4 and up, under 3 at first 2 Sunday shows, only
Cost: $8.75 per ticket
Get close to the action at a Sprout performance of a kid-friendly show like Pinnochio! Sprouts puts on shows that are one hour long (perfect for short attention spans!) and full of music and audience participation. These guys know their stuff. So if you are looking for some entertainment away from the TV, drop by Redmond Town Center on the second floor. Kids 3 and under are only permitted at “Small Sibling Sunday” shows on the first Sunday performances.