5 top touring shows for kids and families

It's no secret that your choices in entertainment tend to change when you have kids. Young kids simply wouldn't appreciate the splendor of a magnificent stage production such as "Phantom of the Opera," and you probably have less disposable income to spend on show tickets than you did B.K. (before kids). Going to see a favorite band means paying not only for concert tickets but also for a babysitter.
 
The following shows have offered outstanding family-friendly entertainment for many years, making them good bets for an outing with the kids.
 
 Blue Man Group offers unusual family entertainment with no speaking or singing - just lots of music, colors and lights. In addition to standing shows in Las Vegas, Boston, New York, Orlando, Chicago and New York, Blue Man Group touring companies visit cities all over the U.S., with dozens of dates on their current schedule.  
 
Ticket prices start at around $25 for the touring shows, though good seats can cost much more. Though you probably won't find anything inappropriate in the show, children who don't like loud noises, flashing lights or surprises would probably not enjoy Blue Man Group.
 
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus thrills children of all ages - and their parents - with amazing feats of human skill along with the antics of highly trained, professional performance animals.  Your family can even get down and personal with the show's performers - two-legged and four-legged - during a pre-show period taking place down on the show floor. 
 
The circus includes a person being shot out of a cannon, along with very talented elephants, dogs, tigers and horses. People walk and bike along tightropes, and acrobats perform delightful tricks on trapezes and wheels. However, you may want to skip the circus if your child hates loud noises or flashing lights, since the circus has a fair amount of both. Ticket costs generally start around $20 each for the circus, making it a bargain compared to many other forms of live entertainment.
 
Disney on Ice generally gets rave reviews and sells out venues despite weeklong engagements and ticket prices north of $50 each, even for cheap seats. Disney on Ice's shows feature gorgeous costumes, impressive skating and magnificent special effects. Not surprisingly, their touring shows usually have themes that coincide with a popular Disney movie or other franchise, such as their current "Frozen" themed endeavor. 
 
While Disney on Ice shows differ according to their theme, they generally don't contain anything terribly frightening for sensitive youngsters, but older or more active kids might not find them exciting enough. Considering the amount of money you'll spend for Disney on Ice tickets, you'll want to make sure that the kids are really big fans of the show's theme.
 
One of the most famous sports franchises in history doesn't compete in any professional league. The Harlem Globetrotters have entertained audiences with their basketball skills for more than 80 years. Their touring show sells tickets for as little as $30 at some venues, and you don't have to love basketball to enjoy the Harlem Globetrotters. Both the circus and the Harlem Globetrotters shows provide good examples to kids of what they can accomplish with enough devotion and practice.
 
Almost any preschooler would consider attending Sesame Street Live a phenomenal treat. Kids can see their favorite Sesame Street characters in person, including Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie and Oscar the Grouch. Plus, ticket prices at many venues start at less than $20 each, with even the best seats going for less than $40. 
 
No matter what family show you choose, an afternoon time almost always works best for families with kids. The whole crew will have a much better time if the show doesn't run past anyone's bedtime - including Mom and Dad's. Ticket and parking costs alone can add up to a significant chunk of change when taking your family to an event, so be sure to check out these moneysaving tips for when you attend a family event.
 
As a side note, if you have older kids who can sit still long enough for a lengthy stage show, look for local productions of "Cats" or "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." Both feature catchy musical scores from composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. "Cats" makes up for its slim plot with spellbinding songs and wonderfully choreographed dancing. While kids, especially those who love kitties, will start off enthralled by the costumes, singing and dancing, the show lasts well over two hours. Therefore, you'll probably lose the attention of younger kids after intermission.
 
"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," based on a bible story about Joseph and his coat of many colors, is one of my favorite musicals. You can find performances of "Joseph" not only at major theatrical venues but also at smaller playhouses and high schools. "Joseph" is also a relatively short production of less than 90 minutes, making it about the same length as most animated kids' movies.

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