I am a live theater addict in the summer. I admit it. In the past week I have seen 4 plays. As an editor for an online magazine I get to review Southern Utah’s summer theater which includes Tuacahn, Utah Shakespeare Festival and the Neil Simon Festival (coming soon).
It just so happens that my children also love live theater. They always want to see what I am seeing. They may have a little bit of an entitlement issue in this facet of our lives. And yet, it is easy to forget that just because a play or musical knocks your socks off, that does not mean the content is appropriate for all ages. For instance the Utah Shakespeare Festival (whom I love with all my theater loving heart) is touting the Merry Wives of Windsor as their family friendly matinee. Now I saw this play and it was hysterical. But the nature of the plot line lends itself to many innuendos. Falstaff comes to town with the intention to seduce two married women in an effort to get access to their husband’s money. Really, that is not exactly family friendly. I am not taking my kids to this play. Just because it is in the guise of Shakespeare does not necessarily mean it is kid appropriate or that my children won’t understand it’s thinly veiled implications.
On the other hand I am having a more difficult time saying no to my 10-year-old going to Les Miserables. This is classic stuff — amazing music, one of the best story lines of all time. And yet, Les Mis really does have some PG13 elements –strong language, strong sexual innuendoes, violence. Plus, live theater can be much more emotionally moving. I have had to tell my 10- year-old daughter I don’t think this is the year she will be seeing Les Miserables. It was a gut wrenching decision. I want to expose my children to good theater. I am taking my 14-year-old son. He is highly involved in drama and music and I feel like he can handle the content of this play better. But really, where do you as a parent draw the line? How do you make a personal judgement on live theater?
We have seen one play as a family that is age appropriate for everyone. Tuacahn Ampitheatre’s Aladdin may not be deep and moving theater but it is pure entertainment, complete with catchy music, pyrotechnics, a genie, a flying carpet and 3-D special effects done the way you wish every 3D movie would do 3D. I love having at least one play/musical that I is entertaining for everyone from my 7-year-old to my Mother-in-law.