When I heard that Hamilton was going to be released on Disney+, I was ecstatic. I’ve been a fan of musicals for a long time, and I was thrilled to be able to share something as awe-inspiring as Hamilton with my kids. The first time I watched Hamilton, I just couldn’t take my eyes away.
By and large, musicals seem to be one of those things. Either you love them, or you hate them. The thing is, Hamilton seemed to break that barrier for a lot of people. Hamilton is funny, it’s edgy, and it uses modern and masterful language in a way that makes people think. I think that’s part of the reason it’s been so prevalent in our culture. If you think about it, Hamilton has caused an entire generation to fall in love with musical theater.
What musicals should your kids watch next?
If you want to build that kind of love of theater with your kids, then Hamilton is, of course, a great place to start. But there are other musicals that can help them build that relationship with musical theater. I’ve put together a list of some of my other kid friendly musicals that are some of my favorites.
Into the Woods
This was one of my earliest introductions to musical theater. The first time I watched Into The Woods, it was a bootleg VHS copy of the Broadway production that my English teacher put in to keep us occupied the week before the holiday break. The dialogue was rich and listening to Bernadette Peters sing made me believe that some people were born with natural gifts. She is amazing. While there has been a major Hollywood movie made of Into the Woods, the Broadway production is available on Amazon Prime’s BroadwayHD. It’s far better than the movie. The cast is exceptional and the production values are incredible. There is some adult humor, but it’s definitely a musical for kids.
The Wiz Live
I was never really a Wizard of Oz girl. My mother liked to watch it every year on TV. If anything, it gave me a healthy phobia of tornados! But The Wiz is a whole different ballgame. I highly suggest the NBC theatrical version that aired in 2015, starring Queen Latifah, Shanice Williams, and Mary J. Blige. The original version, available on Amazon, has a few mistakes, like pyro going off at the wrong time; however, this is a great way to prepare your kids for the realities of going to see a musical in an actual theatre setting!
Annie was one of the first musicals I ever saw live. When I was really angry at my mom, I would sing “It’s the Hard Knock Life” when I was doing chores. You can guess how that went over! I did love the show, though. While it’s a little dark, it’s another great kid friendly musical.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
This biblically inspired musical has been very popular since I was young. The Donny Osmond version, long considered the standard, is available on Broadway HD. This Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber production is still popular after all this time because the production values are top-notch and the cast is fabulous.
Really, who doesn’t love Mary Poppins? I think everyone has a memory of being home sick from school and watching Mary Poppins while sitting on the couch sipping Ginger Ale and eating saltine crackers. Older kids are definitely going to think it’s a little hokey, but it’s perfect for younger kids.
As with Into the Woods, stick to the theatrical production available on Amazon Prime’s Broadway HD and skip the movie version. Cats was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and was based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. It’s one of the most popular Broadway productions of all time, with more than 7,000 productions.
The King and I
The King and I is another historical musical. Although the lyrics are not quite as edgy as Hamilton, the story is quite interesting. The musical is drawn from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, who worked as a governess (more like a teacher than a nanny) to the children of King Mongkut) of Thailand (which was called Siam at the time). While it’s not as historically accurate as Hamilton, it’s an interesting look at a different time in history.
Newsies The Broadway Musical
This one is based on a movie, which was based on a real-life event that happened in 1899. Newsies is a great musical to watch if you’re studying history, so it’s perfect for distance learning or homeschooling. The stage version on Amazon was filmed in Hollywood, so you may recognize some of the faces, including Christian Bale!
The great thing about Disney+ streaming Hamilton is that this is such a great time to introduce your children to an entirely new genre of entertainment using a style of music and art that is familiar to them! Take advantage of that and use this time to help them develop a love of something that may just last a lifetime!
Tell me — what other kid friendly musicals would you recommend?