How old is too young to attend a Broadway show? I ask a theater about theater age policy

One of my favorite perks of Julieverse is being able to review movies and shows for families — sharing how appropriate a story’s portrayal may be for children, the “types” of people who may like the show and how to complement viewing a show or film with learning and enrichment at home. Over the years, I’ve refined my review system to focus on what I feel is most important about taking your child to a quality show or movie. Repeatedly, I’m asked about recommended ages for theater and if a Broadway show (New York or on tour) has a theater age policy.

Beauty & the Beast is coming to Philadelphia! Here's what you need to know and do before you see the show

First and foremost, you know your child best, so keep that in mind while I share my opinion.

Several years ago, I was told by a friend that Broadway had a rule in its ticket sales: No tickets for children under age 5. I went on to believe the rule and never questioned it, until the questions started pouring in at Julieverse. Research took me to 1995, when Playbill published a Family Guide to Broadway, written by the League of American Theatres and Producers Inc.once musical, broadway, philadelphiaThrough more research, I learned that individual shows and theaters determine age limits, its heresy that all of Broadway has a ruling.

When asked, the Kimmel Center of Philadelphia (the association of theaters in my home city) responded with the following:

We list [age 6] as a general guideline and you can find those guidelines on this page. It is also included in all of our Playbills. We use this as a guideline to ensure the best possible experience for all of our patrons and it is a Kimmel Center suggestion, not a blanket suggestion for all traveling theater.

Productions like Beauty and the Beast and some of our other family-friendly programs, like Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, are created with a younger audience in mind so the recommended age is for children 3 and older.

Last Fall, when I brought my 12-year-old to see his first show, Matilda, we were frustrated. Frustrated because of the 3 children sitting in front of us. Their parents had purchased tickets for the kids separate from their own. And while the kids, mostly, quietly whispered to each other when they had questions, the children “sat” on booster seats that raised them high above adults’ heads, including my own and my son’s. (Sat is in quotes because there was a genuine lack of sitting for one of the children.)Matilda the Musical is coming to Philadelphia Broadway. Will you see the show? And are you as excited as these kids?

Related article: Take your kids to a Broadway show

When they stood, I estimated 2 of the children to be between ages 8-10. The taller child made it difficult for us to see over her head. The younger child, probably age 4 or 5, simply wasn’t sitting. I’m sure all three loved the music, enthusiasm and talent of Matilda, but the patrons who sat around these children surely did not have the best possible experience. (Though we certainly made the best of it, as we loved the show.) Matilda is recommended for ages 6 and older, and I believe that’s due to the depth of the storyline. I also mentioned in a previous post that most of the younger children in the theater that evening were carried out, asleep, on their parents’ shoulders. They simply weren’t old enough for the show.jersey2

After inquiring about the appropriate age for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, I brought all three children to the theater — ages 12, 10 and six. My youngest loved the show. In fact, she was so excited when she knew a song or recognized a part of the biblical story, she couldn’t hold back in her excitement and I found myself shushing her several times. At intermission, we spoke of the importance of respecting other patrons, which seemed to help calm her for the second act. Likely, this was a conversation we should have had prior to the show.

To determine whether your child is old enough to attend a show, it’s best you call the theater prior to purchasing tickets. While I can offer (what I think) is an excellent recommendation, the true rules are the responsibility of the theater.

The Kimmel Center will soon host Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at the Academy of Music. Tickets are now available and the Kimmel Center has shared that the recommended age is 3 and up.

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Do Broadway theaters have kid-rule? what's the right age to take your child to a broadway show? How do you know if a show is kid-friendly?

All photos (except the theater seats image provided) by The Kimmel Center and associated agencies.


mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel ( and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2016, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.


  1. says

    I very much agree – you have to really know your child. We took our 3.5 year old (what?!) to see Newsies on Broadway. She ROCKED IT, but I knew she was that kind of kid. She behaved better than some of the adults near us. She is now 7 and has seen Matilda, Beauty and the Beast, Wicked, Newsies a 2nd time, and is always well behaved and engaged. Beauty and the Beast at the Academy of Music a few years ago (she was 4) was actually the only one that seriously scared her during a few parts that were pretty dark and scary with the Beast.

    That all being said. My son (currently driving monster trucks up the back of my laptop and dropping them on my hands as I try to type) is 2 years old. He will be lucky if he sees a show by the age of 5 or 6. Even then, he still might not be ready to sit quietly. :) :) :)

    It is extremely frustrating to pay good money for show tickets only to have to contend with kids who are taking away from the show. I would never want to put MY kids in the position of annoying other theater-goers as well Good tips!

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