It's been a while since I made a last-minute decision to see a Broadway show. Not only does having kids make most of your life a scheduled occurance, but the nature of my job here at BroadwayWorld involves contacting theatre marketing folks to let them know you're interested in covering something or responding to an invite before setting foot inside a theatre. In fact, I believe the last time I just checked out what was at TKTS was my senior year at NYU. I won't tell you what year it was but here's a hint: I saw Blood Brothers. Yup, been a while.
A few weeks ago, my daughter and I attended a demonstration of an acting class by Broadway Edge, a new, professional level training program for stars to be ages eight and up. When we finished the class, all excited about theatre and the magic of Broadway, we found ourselves on West 54th St looking right at the the marquee of Studio 54. The weather was terrible and my husband and son were doing just fine trashing the apartment without us, so on a whim, we decided to catch The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
I think I remember this show from my camper days at Stagedoor Manor. It hasn't been on Broadway since 1987 and I didn't see it then, but somehow I remembered the "choose your own adventure" event at the end of the show (audience members vote on one of several possible endings). However, I didn't remember if it was really child-friendly or if my summer camp had produced at PG-13 version. I quickly called a friend who assured me that the opium den scene in this production is rather tame. Oh, good.
But here's the thing: We've been seing a lot of theatre this past year, and here is a chance to catch a bona-fide theatre legend. How often will we get to see Chita Rivera live on stage? God willing, many times for many years to come, but here was the opportunity staring us in the face. Plus, I figured if I had questions about how kid-friendly this show was, other parents would too.
There was nothing on stage that was too innapropriate for my nine year old, and anything that was sailed right over her head. The show moves FAST. It's a high-energy, quick-talking, fast-moving farce that doesn't leave much time for close examination. Because of this, and the thick Brittish accents and period lingo (the show takes place in a Victorian music hall in 1895), a kid won't catch everything. And that includes some plot points, which is why I think my daughter was on the younger side of the perfect age range for this show. She enjoyed herself, but might have gotten more out of it a year from now. I did spend a bit of the show whispering explanations in her ear. However, when it came time to try to solve the murder mystery and vote on an ending, my daughter had a clear theory as to who did it and a good reason behind her vote.
The show is based on the novel Charles Dickens was working on when he died. He never finished the book, which is why the actors in the music hall pause their "play within a play" to ask the audience for help with the ending. My daughter thought this was pretty cool, and it's that kind of uniqueness that can make a show great for kids.
GET TO THE POINT, MOM!
- A fast-moving, period farce that is great for older kids.
- Best for kids ages ten and up.
- He was right. Opium den scene? Not so bad.