A little over a year ago, I took my daughter to see her first Broadway show. It was Sister Act, and even though the on-stage gun was scary for about a minute, she loved the show more than anything she'd seen in her seven years. Since then, my budding Broadway fan has been to a bunch more Broadway, and now at eight she's come to an important conclusion: She wants to be a director when she grows up.
(We interrupt this post for a brief sigh of relief. She doesn't want to be an actor! Woo-hoo!)
With this new life-decision firmly made (because eight year olds NEVER change their mind about what they want to be when they grow up), it was the perfect moment to take in a "not necessarily for kids" Broadway show that utilizes the best special effects and theatrical technology I've ever seen on stage. I say "not necessarily for kids" because there are some scary moments and a little of the "lovey kissy thing" (that's what we call it) which makes this show a tough sell for kids under eight. (There's a big naked tushy on screen during said lovey kissy part, FYI). But with mommy there to hold her hand during the scary parts, my young lady had a great time.
Since this show is based on such a well-known film, I don't feel I need to be as careful about spoilers. I'll share a bit about what was scary for my daughter and how we got through it:
The first time she felt afraid was the scene where the mugger tries to steal Sam's wallet and shoots him dead. You'll remember that from the film, when Patrick Swayze's character is killed in a seemingly random attack. We later find out the mugging was part of a larger scheme and that the killer was actually hired to steal Sam's wallet. My daughter was frightened of the idea of a random stranger mugging and shooting someone (as she should be). When I told her that it was actually all planned and that if she kept watching she'd see that someone hired the hit man, she relaxed a bit. I realize this sounds odd, but the idea of a random killing was more frightening than the thought of a theatrical plot involving a hired hit man. I think this is because at eight years old, she is mature enough to realize that her world doesn't contain such dramatic themes and tangled webs. The idea of a random attack is much scarier.
Another moment that even scared Mommy was when said bad guy died and went to hell. Director Matthew Warchus took full advantage of his video screens and high-tech lighting tricks to make this decent into Hades a terrifying ride. It was the only time that I questioned my decision to bring my eight year old, and I'll admit I resorted to covering her eyes with my hand (while she squirmed and tried to pull my hand off saying, "Mommy! You're embarrassing me!"). But the whole thing only lasts twenty seconds or so, and before you know it we've moved on to more palatable moments. And getting rid of the bad guy helped my girl relax and enjoy the rest of the show more, knowing she wouldn't have to see him again (apologies to Michael Balderrama who does a fabulous job in the role….if he wasn't so terrific, we wouldn't have been so scared of him!).
The rest of the show was a huge hit with my daughter. The special effects, the phenomenal ensemble dancers and Caissie Levy's incredible voice blew her away. Every word out of Da'Vine Joy Randolph's mouth (she plays psychic Oda Mae Brown) sent us into peals of laughter, and I found myself waiting for her to come back on stage when she wasn't there.
Although the plot is a bit adult, my daughter had no problem understanding what was going on. We had a little pow-wow during intermission and she seemed to be very on top of things. I did have to give her a quick explanation of "money laundering" but that's a life skill she'll need one day, right? (kidding). She completely understood the story and had a wonderful time. Now she wants us to see the film. I'll have to spend an evening with my daughter watching my favorite nostalgic, classic 90's film staring Demi Moore. Twist my arm.