The Los Angeles area is awash in children’s musical theater, from fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella, to 20th-century classics like The Wizard of Oz, Winnie the Pooh and Roald Dahl’s Matilda. There’s even a world premiere musical starring an Armenian heroine.
When you expose children to theater experiences, they’ll likely remember them for the rest of their lives. Kids recognize the magic of live performances and engage in ways they can’t with screen-based entertainment.
So what’s out there?
The Warrior Queen Anahit the Brave
First up, Imagine Theatre presents Warrior Queen Anahit the Brave, a family-friendly musical for ages six and up inspired by an Armenian fairy tale. There are only six performances, featuring music, spectacle and interactive elements. Imagine Theatre is dedicated to producing original children’s productions that spotlight female heroes in stories derived from the rich cultural fabric of Los Angeles County. This production is a multimedia tribute Armenian culture.
The new musical was written and directed by Armina LaManna, with original music by Shahen Hagobian. It’s the story of Anahit’s transformation from a young peasant rug weaver to sword-wielding Queen of the Armenian Highlands after she catches the eye of Prince Vachagan. And what fairytale doesn’t have an evil villain? Warrior Queen Anahit has Apep, a giant puppet inspired by the Egyptian serpent god of chaos and destruction.
Warrior Queen Anahit the Brave runs on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:00 pm, Sundays at 4:00pm, from Nov. 5 –18 at the Colony Theatre, 555 N 3rd St., Burbank (in Burbank Town Center). There’s free parking in the attached structure. Tickets, available here, are $30 for adults, $20 for children 12 and under.
The Wonderful Winter of Oz: A Holiday Panto
Next, Laguna Playhouse brings back Lythgoe Family Panto for a holiday production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: A Holiday Panto, based on the British tradition of pantomime. Audience participation is part of the show, which includes song, dance and merriment! The classic American tale gets a holiday makeover as Dorothy is spirited away by a blizzard on Christmas Eve and finds herself in a strange and wondrous land full of witches and Munchkins.
This is Lythgoe Family Panto’s seventh production at the 100-year-old Laguna Playhouse. The partnership is committed to bringing the magic of panto to hundreds of underserved children who attend school in Orange County. Kris Lythgoe wrote and Bonnie Lythgoe directs this original show.
The Wonderful Winter Of Oz: A Holiday Panto runs Dec. 8-30 at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach. Showtimes are Thursdays and Fridays at 7:00pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00am and 3:00pm. There are no performances on Dec. 24, 29 or 30. Tickets are $36-71 for adults and $20 for children 2-14. There’s also a $50 “Golden Ticket” add-on for a special onstage sing-along experience during the performance and a gift bag. Tickets can be purchased at www.lagunaplayhouse.com.
Cinderella – The True Story & Little Red Riding Hood
You can also see musical versions of fairy tales closer to home, from longstanding children’s theater troupes: the Assistance League’s Nine O’Clock Players have Cinderella: The True Story…and Little Red Riding Hood is part of Theatre West’s Storybook Theatre.
The former is a retelling of the classic damsel-in-distress tale. This Cinderella fights for a world where everyone, from tailors to kings, learns that bigger isn’t always better and that to truly be rich we should share what we have. And Little Red Riding Hood is a family musical with book, music and lyrics by Lloyd J. Schwartz.
Cinderella: The True Story is currently playing at the Nine O’Clock Players’ Assistance League Theatre, 1367 N. St. Andrews Place, just south of Sunset. The run ends Nov. 27. All performances are Sundays at 2:00pm. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.
Little Red Riding Hood, from Theatre West’s Storybook Theatre, plays Saturdays at 1:00pm through Jan. 28, 2023 (dark on Christmas and New Year’s Eve) at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. There’s street parking and a paid lot across the street. Tickets are $15 and are available here.
Disney’s Winnie the Pooh
A new musical stage adaptation of Disney’s Winnie the Pooh is touring the country and will be at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. A new story by family entertainment creator Jonathan Rockefeller includes the Sherman Brothers’ classic songs. Stunning life-sized puppetry brings it all to life in the Hundred Acre Wood.
Disney’s Winnie the Pooh will be at the Kirk Douglas Theatre for six weeks, from Nov. 23 through Dec. 30, with three shows on Saturdays, two on Sundays, and weekday and evening options. Tickets range from $35 to $99 and are available here; there are also upgrades including a signed poster and post-performance character meet and greets.
And, finally, the Tony®-award-winning musical Matilda portrays a strong little girl who appreciates books and dreams big. Unloved by her cruel parents, Matilda uses her brains and bravery—plus some psychokinetic powers to reward and punish those who deserve it. High-energy dance numbers and catchy songs appeal to all ages.