Friday night, Thatkid and I had a special date night. We went to see "In the Heights." It was our annual trip to the summer program run by the Moonlight Amphitheater which performs outdoor theater. Every year they do one production especially for kids. This was not that production.
The kids production this year was The Little Mermaid. Which Thatkid is going to see with his dad through Broadway San Diego, so it didn't make a lot of sense to send him to see the same production twice in a matter of weeks.
"In the Heights" may not seem like a production geared for kids, but we've been expanding our theater selections this year with Thatkid. Which brings me to the point of this post - how to raise a theater lover.
In short, like most of my wisdom, I have no idea.
But I feel incredibly lucky that Thatkid loves theater so much.
I'm sure part of it has to do with the fact that his parents love theater so much. Which is also lucky. I grew up in a house where both my parents listened to, and sang, musicals on a regular basis. There wasn't a show they didn't know. My father even auditioned for the original Broadway cast of Jesus Christ Superstar. And while Thatboy did NOT grow up in a similar household, he loves live theater, especially musicals.
He doesn't have the same background as I do, but he gets enough of the references that I teased him yesterday morning as he tried to tune a guitar that he sounded like he was starting the opening of Rent. And he didn't look at me like I was crazy. He smiled and nodded.
And then there's exposure. Thatkid loves theater, because is exposed to lots of theater. My very first Broadway show was Peter Pan and so when NBC did their "Peter Pan Live" we tuned in. I thought he would love it. Love might be strong. But he didn't mind it. He was very confused that Peter was a girl, but he was definitely interested. He had just turned 3, which we thought was a good time to introduce him to live theater since he was finally able to sit through a movie....earlier that day.
This was also the period when he started watching Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang all the time, both of which are full of singing. And that's when we started bringing him to live theater, beginning with the Moonlight Amphitheater production of Shrek - one of his favorite movies.
We play musicals at home, Thatboy and I take turns bringing him to shows, and so far, he hasn't found one he doesn't like. His current favorite is either Into The Woods, which Thatboy took him to a couple weeks ago (seriously, hearing a 5 year old sing Agony might be a life changing moment) or Hamilton, which he hasn't seen yet, but requests to hear the cast recording all the time (And if you're not won over by Agony, then you should hear his "Hear Comes the General.")
Neither of those shows is especially kid friendly. There's sex and death in both of them - themes we avoid in most movies he views. But a lot of that goes over his head, which makes me feel a little better about bringing him. And why I thought he might like In The Heights, which is far from a fairy tale. (He asked if there was a bad guy in the show during the first act, to which I replied "Only the heat and life.")
And although he is much to young to sit through a production, I think we're bringing Thatbaby right along with us. He doesn't have all the lyrics to Hamilton memorized like his older brother, but he "da da da da daaaaaahs" with the best of them in "You'll Be Back." And mention "Into the Woods" and he'll tell you all about the witch. And the wolf. So hopefully next summer we'll be able to attend Moonlight Amphitheater's production of Newsies as a family!