Matilda the Musical
Sophia Gennusa stars as Matilda and Karen Aldridge as kindly librarian Mrs. Phelps in the musical “Matilda,” based on the book by Roald Dahl.

Schoolkids and spiders and ducks, oh my! Those are just some of the fun characters currently featured on Broadway. The Great White Way has always drawn packed houses, but rarely to so many shows suitable for the whole family. (Neil Patrick Harris even sang about it in his stunning opening number at this year’s Tony Awards.) We checked out three options, and found the best lobby souvenir from each.

To fulfill our dreams of revenge on that mean teacher: Matilda.
This wildly inventive musical (from a book by Roald Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Dahl) pits a scrappy title character (four girls rotate in the role) against her comically negligent parents and a monster of a headmistress. It’s like a mashup of Spring Awakening and Carrie, if either ended happily. Everyone will cheer for our delightfully deadpan heroine, and kids will also be engaged by the Scrabble-inspired set, whose giant letters slyly spell out all sorts of words.
Best souvenir: Since this show thoroughly celebrates reading, get Dahl’s original novel, $10.

To delight grandparents along with the kids: Pippin.
This thrilling revival proves that everything old is new again: Tony-winning director Diane Paulus retains some of Bob Fosse’s original choreography, then integrates circus stunts and acrobatics. By plunking a Big Top onto the stage, the already meta-theatrical show takes on another joyful element of illusion. Our protagonist, Pippin, learns some valuable lessons about happiness on a farm with a boy and pet duck. Meanwhile, everyone will adore the show-stopping granny singing from a trapeze.
Best souvenir: With a score by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell), grab the cast recording, $20.

To engage sports lovers at a musical: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
Although famously troubled in previews, Spider-Man now zips along with a rewritten script that keeps the diabolical Green Goblin around for the finale. The 9-year-old we took was creeped out, in just the right way, by the Goblin (whose mask owes a debt to another famously green, wicked character). Both he and his older brother loved the action, especially the stunning aerial stunts with Spidey swooping over our heads.
Best souvenir: The postcard set showcases the awesome sets and costumes—and then your kid can write home to Aunt May, $8.

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Tagged: Family time

Web Behrens

Web Behrens

Web Behrens, Chicago native, was once called a "merry wanderer" by his Bavarian-born grandmother. With or without his journalist hat, he's tackled three continents so far (plus Alaska and Hawaii).
Web Behrens

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