The Perfect First Broadway Show for a Nice Jewish Girl
Recently, I had the pleasure of taking my seven-year-old daughter to her very first Broadway show. (I don't count the time she was so graciously invited by a friend's grandmother to enjoy full-price, orchestra seats to Lion King and ended up watching from the monitors in the lobby after running out of the theatre in fear. She was only four.) After months of eagerly co-piloting her mother through the New York children's theatre scene, it was finally time to break into the majors. What better first Broadway show could there be for a nice Jewish girl and her mother than Sister Act the musical!
Now, just because I took my seven-year-old doesn't mean you should. In all fairness, I think this particular show is best for kids ten and up. My daughter enjoyed every moment, but had a hard time with some of the slightly more mature themes, including the presence of a gun on stage that is used to shoot someone and the fact that throughout the entire show, a bad man wants to kill the leading lady. (No spoilers there. It was the premise of the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg film upon which this musical is based).
However, I still call this a family-friendly musical because of how the gun and the shooting are handled. First, nobody we care about gets shot. Second, there is no blood or gore or even sign of injury. And third, after someone gets shot, nobody reacts with shock or dismay. There is no heavy-hitting tragedy to digest and possibly traumatize a young person and no nightmarish horror to keep a child up at night. In fact, both our hero Deloris and the villain's three bumbling sidekicks carry on with such humor and shtick, we find ourselves laughing hysterically less than a minute after we've just seen someone get gunned down. If you've been reading my articles for a while, you know how over-sensitive my daughter can be, and I promise you that she slept quite well that night.
I call Sister Act a family musical and not a children's show because it's really an adult show that can still be enjoyed by kids. It's not going to hold your three-year-old's focus nor is it meant to. (Kids under four aren't allowed in the theatre anyway). There are plenty of jokes that will go over kids' heads, like an early mention of "quaaludes" and, in our case, several New Testament references that my daughter obviously couldn't understand. (If your kid can get those, then she'll probably be baffled by the yiddish jokes in the second act....my daughter totally got those ones).
But a little bit of confusion and a few skillfully whispered questions in her Mommy's ear were not enough to deter my daughter from being completely dazzled by her first Broadway show, just as children should be. I don't think I will ever forget the image of my daughter's face lighting up as the nuns began having vocal epiphanies and the young postulant, Sister Mary Robert (or as my daughter calls her, "The Littlest Nun") erupted with a gloriously gorgeous belt that sent chills around the theatre.
So consider yourself warned: There is a gun on stage. The hero of the story is a little seedy until she meets up with the nuns, and yes, there is a man trying to kill her for basically the entire show. If you think your kid can't handle that, this might not be the time for your child to see Sister Act, and that's why I'd say that kids ten and up are the right audience for this show. But at the end of our evening, the humor, sparkle and fabulous music in Sister Act were enough to make the world's most over-sensitive kid forget about the slapstick violence and walk away with only wonderful memories of her first Broadway show.
GET TO THE POINT, MOM!
• Light, slapstick violence that includes someone getting shot is well-covered with humor and pacing.
• Best for kids ten and up.
• Running Time: 2.5 hours including intermission
• Wednesday through Saturday at 8, Tuesday at 7, Wednesday and Saturday at 2, Sunday at 3.
• Tickets range from $51.50 (rear mez) to $201.50 (weekend premium seating).
• For more info on show times and ticket prices, visit the show's web site: www.SisterActBroadway.com
• A great Bat Mitzvah gift.