Good to Go: Field Guides to the Arts for Parents

Advice for First-time Theater Goers

Tips for making the most of a family visit to the theater

Before the Show

Here are some tips to minimize the fuss and maximize the fun of your theater-going experience.

Before you even leave home...

  Look online. Check the theater’s Web site for study guides and other educational material related to your show.

  Dress thoughtfully. Casual attire is acceptable, but feel free to dress up. To ward off air-co chill, bring sweaters or jackets.

  Arrive early. Thirty minutes is ideal. Latecomers are usually not seated until the first scene break. If you have time, let your kids explore the theater. Hit the bathroom before taking your seats.

  Turn off, tune in. Switch off your electronic devices, then make sure your kids haved turned off theirs. Warn them not to text-message or take photographs during the show.  

  Bone up. Encourage kids to read the program. Many have informative articles about the production. If the set is visible, play “I spy” with the backdrop and props.  

During the Show

After the curtain rises and lights go down, remember...


  Don’t snore! Or talk, text, eat, or drink. In short, model good theater behavior. Remind your kids that if they can hear the actors, the actors can hear them. 

  Do clap! Loudly (but in the right places). For musicals, it’s fine to clap after songs. For dramas, though, reserve clapping for intermission breaks and the final curtain. 

•  Don’t miss this opportunity! At children’s shows, actors often remain in costume after the performance and greet the audience. For many kids, seeing actors up close is the best part of the theater experience. Have programs ready for autographing.

At Home

Deepen your theatrical experience through discussion and at-home activities.

•  IMHO. Urge your kids to share their impressions of the show. Discuss favorite scenes and any parts that confused them. Which moments surprised or amused them? Which character did they like the most? Did the main characters learn anything? How did they change?   

•  Compare and contrast. If possible, read the play with your kids. Discuss how the written play differs from the production they saw. If they had been the director or set designer, what would they have done differently?

•  Make memories. With a play scrapbook or journal. Paste in ticket stubs, programs, photographs, autographs, etc. Include favorite lines and impressions.



Amy Dunkleberger
Original Writer

Editors & Producers

Doug Cooney

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