Our show really does appeal to all ages - who doesn't want to go to Narnia? But if you are bringing a child under the age of 8, or one may be new to going to the theatre, here are a few tips to help them have the best time possible.
1. Decide if your child is ready for this story. If you are familiar with "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," you know there are some intense moments, most notably when The White Witch kills Aslan. The entire set-up of our show makes it very clear that it is just pretend, and although the portrayal of violence is effective, it is not realistic. But if your child is especially sensitive to stories about good and evil, the tension may be too much for them. We do recommend the show for ages 5 and up, and it has been a good guideline. For reference, my 2 year old loves watching the show, but it was a little too intense for my older son when he was 4. You know your child best.
Also, the show lasts just 45 minutes, which I think is a perfect length for most attention spans, even a busy 5 year old.
2. Read the book together! There is the full length novel, of course. But if your child isn't quite ready to sit still for that version, there are some great picture books that feature the abridged story. I like this one (pictured here) by Hiawyn Oram, illustrated by Tudor Humphries. And I love Robert Sabuda's pop-up book. You could also listen to it on audio book while traveling.
Just a note: If they haven't already seen it, I would not recommend showing your children the film version of the story before seeing the play. Our show is so imaginative, and I think remembering the visual images of the film can distract from the interactive experience of the play.
3. Talk together about what to expect at the show. I think it's helpful for kids (and adults too!) to know that there will just be two actors who play all the characters. Check out the photos on website and try to guess which characters are which. Talk about how you think the actors will change their costumes, bodies and voices to show they are playing a different character. If you think your child might be scared of the lion mask, be sure to look at those photos and talk about how it is just the actor underneath. You can also let them know that they will have the chance to meet the actors after the show.
4. Prepare them for the atmosphere of a theatre. Explain the ways it's different and similar to a movie. Something like:
"It's similar in that the lights will go down, we want to whisper if we have a question, and we will stay in our seats to watch the show. But unlike in a movie, the actors can hear you, see you, and will even talk directly to you!"
There are a few small interactive moments during the show and the actors LOVE it when the audience actually talks back to them.
5. Grab a bite to eat before the show. We do sell candy, soda and water at the theatre, and you are welcome to bring those inside. However, your child will probably enjoy the show best if her belly is already full and she can just focus on the story. (Pro mom tip: lollipops are great to focus the preschoolers while watching the show. But you already knew that. )
With a little preparation, the entire experience of coming to see "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" can be expanded to make it a memorable event for the whole family.
There is something special about our school field trip matinees. The excitement is electric - as the lights go down, squeals of anticipation erupt as the students prepare to travel through the wardrobe. And (spoiler alert!) when Aslan finally defeats the White Witch, the cheers are deafening. We think it's a perfect field trip: a magical blend of literature, live performance, and fun.
After a recent show, the first graders from local school PS 111 shared their amazing reviews with us. Here are their opinions in their own words - enjoy!
"You shoud go to the lion the wich and the wardrobe because there is a big battle and the bad guy almost wins. it has a sord fight and a snowball fight. It is kind of sad because the best good guy on the good guys side dies but somthing amasing hapens. I think it is the best play ever. I also think you would love it." - L
"You suod woch it because the actors are rilly silly so if you like silly things you will like it." -J
"It is an awsome play. There is a lot going on. You will rilly like it. It is not like most theatres. This play does not have any songs but still it is the best. I love it." -M
"Today! We went to go see the Lion the witch and the wardrobe. There are only two actors. They dressed up as all the other characters. There was lots of activness. Ther was nothing to scary. Accept the lion roaring. Maybe you will be a little bit scared. But you should not be. Lots of interesting things happen. You may be in shock after all you've seen. I myself thought it was amazing." - R
A BIG thank you to the students from PS 111 for taking the time to write to us! Have you seen the show? We'd love to read your review, too. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where to Eat After the Show: Kid Friendly Restaurants in Hell's Kitchen (the adorable neighborhood just west of Times Square)
One of the most often questions I get asked is "Where is a good place to eat after the show?" With approximately 24,000 restaurants in Manhattan (I just googled it), and at least 34 restaurants on the same block as our very own St. Luke's Theatre, it can be a bewildering task to pick a place that will make everyone in your bunch happy.
My little brood has lived within a few blocks of St. Luke's Theatre for almost 2 years now, and like most New Yorkers, I have fallen in love with our neighborhood. So the places I'm going to recommend to you are the spots we return to time and again - the ones that won't break your bank (this is not fancy date night, folks) the ones my kids ask for over and over, the ones that make me consider placing a Seamless order right now. All are within a 5-10 minute walk of the theatre.
366 W. 46th St. b/t 8th Ave & 9th Ave
If you live in the NYC area, then you are probably familiar with this local chain. The woodsy, whimsical interior and the screens tuned to The Cartoon Network lets you know immediately that children are welcome. Their mix of organic grown up and kid-friendly fare makes this a winner for our family every time. I have loved every customized burger from bison to black bean I've devoured there, and most recently I've been on a Falafelwraptor kick. Also for the grown ups: I highly recommend the Sriracha Blue Cheese Crispy Brussels...and now I can't stop thinking about them. The kid's menu is uncomplicated- burgers, grilled cheese, hot dogs, and they all come with a side of fries, apples and a drink. For serious comfort food that you don't have to feel too guilty about (it's organic!)
2. Uncle Mario's Brick Oven Pizza
739 9th Ave b/t 49th St & 50th St
My 2 boys call it "Uncle Super Mario's." You won't find Mario or Luigi here, but you will find one extremely welcoming server that treats you like you are her long lost Italian relative ("Ciao, Bella!") and a dazzling variety of delicious pies sold by the slice, including mac and cheese, pulled pork, and of course the classic Grandma's. There's a full menu with entrees and salads, but honestly, we just come here for the pizza. There are plenty of tables and a very chill, friendly atmosphere. We always feel welcome, and we always leave happy.
3. Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns and Ramen
811 8th Avenue b/t 48th St & 49th St
610 8th Avenue b/t 39th St & 40th St
This is a fairly new one for us, recommended by our foodie neighbors. In fact, it's where they took their family and friends after seeing the show! You and your kids will love the pork soup buns, the dumplings, the scallion pancakes. If your afternoon plans have you headed north on 8th avenue, you can go to the location at 811 8th Ave (just 2 blocks from the theatre), and if you're headed south, stop by the one at 610 8th Ave. (This one has more seating.)
4. Westway Diner
614 9th Ave b/t 43rd St & 44th St
A family-owned diner that's been around for almost 30 years, Westway Diner is a neighborhood institution. Classic diner fare with a New York vibe - you'll find a great mix of people here, from tourists to locals. The menu is endless and the service is friendly. I love their omelettes, the Challah French Toast, and pretty much all the Greek specialties. But you get whatever you want - seriously.
5. Sticky's Finger Joint
598 9th Avenue b/t 42nd St & 43rd St
Ok, friends, wrap your mind around this: this place has 19 different kinds of sauces in which to dip your fried (or grilled) chicken and fries. Sauces like Buffalo Balsamic Maple, Green Tea Ceasar, and...S'more Sauce (chocolate doesn't ask questions). They've also got salads, wraps, pickles, slaw, and ridiculous fries. I can't write much more about this because it makes me a little sad when I realize I will probably never try every item/flavor combination on their menu. Your kids will probably want classic chicken and fries, but you can make your gourmet fried chicken (Buttermilk Baby Ranch! Vampire Aoli! whaaaat?!) and Truffle Parm French Fry fantasies come true.
362 W. 45th St b/t 8th Ave & 9th Ave
Totally yummy cookies with frosting and sprinkles for the kids and some salted caramel-esque options for the grown ups. Their classic chocolate chip can't be beat. It's tiny inside, so grab a few to go along with a fantastic (strong!) cup of coffee.
Ample Hills Creamery
600 11th Ave b/t 44th St & 45th St
Located in Gotham West Market*, this is my favorite ice cream in the world. Probably partly because it reminds me of Brooklyn where we used to live, and partly because it takes its name from a Walt Whitman poem, but it could also be because IT'S SO GOOD. The sweet people behind the counter let you sample, so go ahead and take your time. Ooey gooey butter cake, Hell's Kitchen Sink, and the Honeycomb are my favorite flavors. My kids always get the kids' size, and I do too. But if you don't live close by, go ahead and get the double scoop.
A Final Must Mention:
*Gotham West Market
600 11th Ave b/t 44th St & 45th St
A gourmet food hall with plenty of options for everyone and a hip vibe. It can be a little overwhelming with kids depending on how busy it is, and the long tables and benches are hard for my preschooler to manage. But if you make it all the way to 11th Avenue just for the Ample Hills ice cream (totally worth it), you might wonder why I didn't tell you about the ample selection of food as well. So my insider tip is to order your food and then sit in the Genuine Roadside section on the 44th Street side. You can take food from any of the other eateries in there, where you'll find booths and a calmer atmosphere for the kids. My boys love the Genuine Roadside burgers, I love the new Corner Slice pizza, Ivan Ramen, and the sushi burritos at Umi Temakeria.
Rachel, what do you remember most about the first time you read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?"
I most vividly remember listening to The Chonicles of Narnia on audiobook during long car trips with my sisters! We loved it and thought it was just so exciting! I remember loving Lucy's curiousity, Peter's bravery, and the way everything changed when Aslan stepped into the picture. I loved the deep comfort and steadiness in Aslan--Even though things get tense there for a bit in the middle of the book, you always have a pretty solid confidence that Aslan is going to win in the end :)
Which character do you like playing more, Lucy or The White Witch?
My favorite character to play in the show is probably young Lucy. I love Lucy's zest and gumption and it's always so fun to step into being a kid! There's a special energy and freedom that's so refreshing and exciting to bring to life.
What do you enjoy most about being in the show?
I love being a part of this show because it is such an all-encompassing challenge. The accents, constant movement, stepping in and out of each different character so quickly, and the responsibility that comes with being one of only 2 actors on the stage the whole show. But one of the greatest things about being a part of this show is the kids that come into the audience. They have such huge imaginations and are so eager to step into the story and go on the adventure with you! That is truly a joy :)
Speaking of the kids in the audience, I LOVE watching their reactions every moment I can! It's so fun to see the ones who are sitting on the edge of their seats :) During one of the shows, we were in the scene where Edmund meets the White Witch for the first time. I said the line, "Well, well, well then are you a baby giant?" And one of the kids was just so tickled by that he exclaimed "BABY GIANT?!" and started giggling and giggling. That was so surprising and so fun! You never know how the kids are going to react and what parts of the show they're going to love!