From the field: The Intersection of mainstream theatre and Theater for Young Audiences

11:09 AM

One of the most highly acclaimed children’s novels of all-time – Roald Dahl’s MATILDA – has been stunning audiences in London’s West End and on Broadway since 2010. Now, the smash hit comes to Milwaukee, as First Stage embarks on producing our first full-length Broadway musical. In doing so, we are joining a national trend of more and more Theatres for Young Audiences (TYA) producing full-length works as part of their season, including the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Adventure Theatre MTC in Maryland, and Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis.
Likewise, the Broadway League has recently reported that fifteen percent of all Broadway theatergoers being under the age of 18, which is indicated with the rising number of family shows being premiered on Broadway – including FROZEN, ANASTASIA, MEAN GIRLS, LION KING, HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD, SCHOOL OF ROCK, and SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS.  The current intersections between Theatre for Young Audiences and more mainstream theater are stronger than ever, with productions being crafted across the board that inspire hope and connect deeply with young people and families. 

Artistic Director Jeff Frank notes, “For many folks in the mainstream theater world, TYA has been seen as lesser in some way. The fact that so many mainstream theater companies are now doing work for family audiences validates what we in the TYA field have said for so long – there is no difference between mainstream theater and TYA. The level of the art in both worlds can, and should, be excellent.”  Jeff continues by sharing, “I’m also glad to see TYA companies breaking away from some of the artificial constructs of our art form. The attention span of our audience shouldn’t be restricted solely to the 60-70 minute shows that proliferate our field. When a piece of theater, like MATILDA, demands more time for telling, we should allow ourselves and our audiences the time the show needs to share its elegance and excellence.” 

We are delighted to have your family joining First Stage for an unparalleled theater experience that connects and inspires both young and old alike.

First Stage’s theater for all ages continues throughout our season. Visit  our website, including the upcoming production of BIG RIVER: TheAdventures of Huckleberry Finn.

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