Best Shows for Kids this Summer

The school year has ended and summer is officially here. Sunny days, camps, trips and open schedules loom ahead. You’d also like to inject some culture into the mix but dragging the kids indoors to the theater could be a tough sell.

Fortunately, there are options to engage even the littlest and most fidgety ones – from outdoor performances with snacks to musical adaptations of their storybook favorites. There’s even a summer festival meant just to pique their interests in the stage. Engage your whole family in creative learning by heading to a show geared toward kids. Here are some productions this summer they will love. 

Bay Area Children’s Theatre is a great place to start whenever your youngsters need access to the performing arts. Its 2018-19 mainstage season just opened in June with Pete the Cat. Follow the hip feline as he finds himself rocking his way into the Biddle’s home to learn some manners. But he’d rather get the family jamming and lend a paw to second-grader Jimmy. This show is best for kids ages 3-8.

See Pete the Cat from June 16-Aug. 5 at the BACT Berkeley Center (2055 Center St.) and from Aug. 11-19 at the Sunnyvale Community Center Theatre (550 E. Remington Drive) and Aug. 25-Sept. 16 at the Children’s Creativity Museum Theatre (221 Fourth St., San Francisco). Shows are on weekends at 10:30am, 1:30pm and 4pm and tickets are $28 for adults, $26 for seniors ages 65 and up and $24 for children ages 2-14. For more information, contact BACT at 510-296-4433.

For a crash course in summer theater appreciation, hit up the 12th anniversary Chevron Family Theatre Festival from 10am-4pm on Sat., July 21 at the Lesher Center for the Arts (1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek). See more than two dozen professional performances all day long both inside and outside the theater that are either free or $5.

Also check out the Village Theatre’s monthly Preschool Performance Series (233 Front St., Danville) with 50-minute performances aimed toward younger children for only $5. Have good clean fun with the Bubble Lady at 10am and 1pm on Fri., July 6 or enjoy comedian and juggler Unique Derique at 10am on Fri., Aug. 10.

Want more bubbles? Head to Rhythmix Cultural Works (2513 Blanding Ave., Alameda) for the Amazing Bubble Show at 11am and 1pm on Sun., July 22 for ages 4 and up. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children.

Palo Alto Children’s Theatre will offer its Summer Outdoor Hot Dog Season, with performances starting at 6:30pm outside the Lucie Stern Community Center (1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto). Bring a blanket to sit on and a picnic or buy hot dogs when doors open at 5:45pm. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for kids.

From June 13-24, see the classic fairytale Snow White featuring a walking, talking magic mirror, forest chases and antics from your favorite dwarfs. Take an adventure to an exotic island from July 11-29 with a musical adaptation of Magic Tree House: Pirates Past Noon. Call 650-463-4970 for more information.

In Marin County, the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts (Carston Cabaret, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa) will host a presentation of Disney’s musical Mary Poppins. Take flight with the magical nanny who helps us learn to take our medicine with a spoonful of sugar from July 13-15.  Showtimes are at 3pm and 7:30pm; tickets are $26 general admission and $16 for children ages 12 and under. For more information, call 707-546-3600.

If your family is seeking a more formal theater experience, splurge and take them to an age-appropriate SHN show in San Francisco. This summer see School of Rock, a musical based on the hit film about a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher. It’s suitable for ages 8 and up (no children under 5 allowed) and runs from June 27-July 22 at the Orpheum Theatre (1192 Market St.). Show times are 2pm and 8pm and ticket prices range from $55-250 each. There’s also Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in Concert at the Davies Symphony Hall (201 Van Ness Ave.) from Aug. 10-12. Show times vary and ticket prices range from $77-154. Contact SHN at 888-746-1799.


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