Ditch the TV: 5 Best Theater Shows for Kids

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If swelling orchard farm parking lots and sibling pumpkin rivalries are diluting your fall bliss, slip everyone into cute cardigans and boots and head to the theater instead. The D.C. scene is rich with options for families, even those with very young kids. Here’s a look at some cool spots and their upcoming shows.

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Adventure Theatre MTC
Located in Glen Echo Park, Adventure Theatre MTC is consistently a favorite around the beltway. Productions usually run around 45 minutes and can be suitable for children as young as 2-3 years old (there is never an intermission!). Opening next is children’s classic Goodnight Moon, scheduled to run September 20 through October 27. Since the Adventure Theatre merger with MTC (Musical Theater Center), child actors have taken a central role in most of their productions, which is always a delight for little ones. Kids love to see other kids performing, and the child actors at Adventure Theatre MTC are first rate. Tickets are $19.

7300 MacArthur Boulevard (Glen Echo, Md)
301-634-2270
Online: adventuretheatre-mtc.org

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The Kennedy Center
A trip to The Kennedy Center is always special, in part thanks to the sweeping rooftop views of the Potomac and surrounding monuments. One of the best things about this mainstay is its commitment to making the arts and music interesting and accessible to the youngest of kids. Check out the line-up of shows for younger audiences through fall and winter, starting with the National Symphony Orchestra’s Teddy Bear Concert on October 5 & 6. Best for ages 3-5; tickets start at $20.

2700 F Street, NW
202-467-4600
Online: kennedy-center.org

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Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater
Discovery Theater is the Smithsonian’s Theater for Young Audiences and their show list offers a variety of options for the itty-bitty, like “Tot Rock: Joanie’s Halloween Party” showing on Oct. 31 and “Pappelappap: Cardboard Play Time!” showing Nov. 3-4. The theater is closed through much of September, but then picks up with a robust calendar of shows through fall and winter. A word of caution: Always double-check the location of the production because Discovery shows are performed in various venues around town. Tickets range from $6-$12.

1100 Jefferson Drive, SW
202-633-8700
Online: discoverytheater.org

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Imagination Stage
The shows at Bethesda’s Imagination Stage are usually best suited for those ages 5 and up, with some exceptions. They are known for creative costumes and program variety. Up next at Imagination Stage is Lulu and the Brontosaurus, which tells the story of a fiesty young girl on a quest for her very own pet dinosaur, presented Sept. 25 through Oct. 27. Tickets start at $12.

4908 Auburn Avenue (Bethesda, Md)
301-961-6060
Online: imaginationstage.org

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The Puppet Co
Also located in Glen Echo Park, The Puppet Co is a must-hit for the preschool age set, though their shows also appeal to early elementary school aged children.  What’s delightful about The Puppet Co is they also offer Tiny Tots shows on select Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Ideal for kids ages 0-4, the shows run only 30 minutes and they keep the lights on and the doors open. Up next is a 4-week run called Totally Tiny Tots from Sept. 18 – Oct. 13, followed by Peter and the Wolf Oct. 17 – Nov. 22.  Tickets to Tiny Tots shows are $5, regular shows are $10 each.

7300 MacArthur Boulevard (Glen Echo, Md)
301-634-5380
Online: thepuppetco.org

Which fall theater show are you looking forward to checking out with your kids?

— Monica Sakala

Photos courtesy of Monica Sakala, bredgur via Creative Commons, the Puppet Co. via Creative Commons