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Taking a 4 year old to the theatre

(39 Posts)
Summerisdone Tue 11-Apr-17 09:23:02

I've just seen the announcement that Matilda is touring the U.K. in late 2018, DS will be turning 4 in October 2018, so depending the date the show is performing in my city it will be just before or just after his birthday and I thought it would make as a nice thing to do for him, as well as the fact I'd love to see the show too.

AIBU taking a child of that age to watch a theatre show? I've only ever been to see Dirty Dancing and Grease (when I was in school) so I'm not really sure as to what age is too young?

Tenshidarkangel Tue 11-Apr-17 09:44:24

I was roughly 5-6 when I saw my first musical but I think it really depends on the child. If he's OK sitting for a long period and will be absorbed by it you'll be fine but if he gets restless it will disturb the show for you and those around you.
Really depends on you and how you think he'll be. smile Panto is always a good trial run!

DJBaggySmalls Tue 11-Apr-17 09:46:08

Practice by taking him to the cinema and see how it goes.

SomedayMyPrinceWillCome Tue 11-Apr-17 09:49:20

Check out the age recommendations for Matilda. I saw it about 5 years ago (so my memory is a bit hazy) but I'm not sure it would be suitable for a child of that age

MangoSplit Tue 11-Apr-17 09:49:28

Just to warn you that Matilda is quite scary - my DS2 saw it age 6 and found it scarier than Star Wars! (Because it seemed more 'real'.) Personally I'd say 4 is a little young. It's such a good show and he'll appreciate it more in a couple of years. Maybe one of the Julia Donaldson stage adaptations would be better?

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 11-Apr-17 10:06:17

I was going to say why not try pantomime first he will probably enjoy that experience.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 11-Apr-17 10:06:27

I was going to say why not try pantomime first he will probably enjoy that experience.

WindwardCircle Tue 11-Apr-17 10:11:02

I think Matilda would both be a bit long and a bit scary for a four year old. It's also a show adults and older children want to sit quietly and watch. I'm not saying your child would be badly behaved but small children don't really understand why they can't ask questions or wriggle in their seats.

There are lots of touring shows based on popular younger children's books, they tend to be only about an hour long and have plenty of chances for joining in with actions and songs, if I were you I'd plump for one of them instead right now.

aforandromeda Tue 11-Apr-17 10:54:29

I've seen Matilda and I can't imagine a 4 year old happily sitting through it quietly. Agree with pp it's too long and scary for that age.
When I went I don't think I saw any children as young as 4 - although I'm not claiming there were none at all.

Summerisdone Tue 11-Apr-17 11:06:51

Oh I may leave it then if it's not very suitable for a four year old.
It's difficult for me to gage what he will be like sitting through a show that long when he is currently only 2.6 but I needed to decide now if I can take him or not as tickets go on sale end of this month.
He has been very good each time I've taken him cinema, but that has only been 3 times so far and to watch brightly coloured young children animations so he may be different watching a longer theatre production.

Oh well, hopefully the tour will be hugely successful and they decide to have the show perform outside of London again another time when he is old enough.

Hygellig Tue 11-Apr-17 11:09:23

I took my daughter, who was nearly 4 at the time, to see the Christmas panto. It was about 2.5 hours long including the interval. The school also take Reception children to see it. She's fine for about an hour but I'm not sure if she could do a West End length musical yet.

lionsleepstonight Tue 11-Apr-17 11:16:33

On the website it has an age restriction of 6.
Would they turn you away at the door even if you'd bought tickets? Not sure!

Summerisdone Tue 11-Apr-17 11:26:44

Oh that's good to know lion, I had tried to find the age but couldn't find it, probably because I was trying to navigate the website on a phone with a smashed screen grin.
Well I guess that's my decision completely made for me then as he will be too young to be admitted entrance anyway.

Hmmm I may just be a loner and go on my own as I really do want to see the show myself.

FlyAwayPeter Tue 11-Apr-17 11:39:12

Do you go regularly to the theatre? Do you take your DS to the cinema? Can he sit watching some sort of performance, without fidgeting, crying or talking, for at least an hour? If not, don't take him. It's expensive to go to the theatre, and other members of the audience shouldn't have to be disturbed by a fidgety 4 yo who can't yet behave as is needed while watching a live show.

I was brought up in the theatre, and part of my work now involves the theatre but even I wouldn't have enjoyed a show at the age of 4. The noise, lights & music might be scary for him.

Most children can't really behave as required for live theatre until the age of 10 or so. And it's REALLY irritating for those of us who've paid a lot of money for our tickets to be disturbed by children who just aren't ready for the experience.

Summerisdone Tue 11-Apr-17 11:49:06

FlyAway I was asking because I wasn't sure if it was a suitable place for a child at 4. As I said up above, I haven't been theatre often, this is unfortunately due to not really having any friends or family who are interested in going to the theatre or see much point in it when they can just watch a film. I've always wanted to see more shows but haven't liked the thought of going on my own in the past, hence why I was wondering if taking a four year old would be too young.
I would not want to ever ruin the show for anybody else there which is why I took to MN to ask as I knew I would get answers from people who do have more experience and could advise me, as it turns out others have told me that perhaps it's best to wait until DS is a bit older so that is exactly what I will do.

faithinthesound Tue 11-Apr-17 12:00:21

Whether or not the theater is a suitable place for your child is down to you and your best common sense. If you know you aren't going to be That Parent, who takes a child who can't sit still and talks through it, then by all means, take your wee one to a show! What a lovely treat, and what a nice mom you are to even be considering it!

Whether or not Matilda is a suitable show for your child is again down to you and your common sense. The Trunchbull is an exceedingly scary character for a wee one - especially when you consider that she's the headmistress of the piece and he'll be starting school soon!

I agree with others about the pantomime. Same sort of lovely treat, but a bit more age-appropriate. Matilda is better saved for when he's a bit older and can truly understand that "the scary lady isn't really mean, she's just pretending to help tell the story" so nightmares are less likely!!

2014newme Tue 11-Apr-17 12:05:46

Has he seen the film? It's quite a scary story in places!

2014newme Tue 11-Apr-17 12:08:29

Yes pantomime is a better idea or any of the hundreds of kids shows doing the rounds that ate suitable for younger ones. Mine started going to the theatre when they were 2 but age appropriate.

Not sure I'd spend the £50 or so it's likely to be each for a good seat unless I was sure he would enjoy it

misscarlar Tue 11-Apr-17 12:12:00

I would take a 4 year old to the theatre so see
A story they already knew or really liked
Something in a style they liked ( my little boy likes shows / films with lots of songs)

I would take lots of snacks, maybe a small booster seats ( some theatres provide them) try to get an asle seat and be prepared to leave if need be.

Backhometothenorth Tue 11-Apr-17 12:30:04

We've been to see various shorter children's pieces with DD starting at age 2 (now nearly 5) and she really loves the theatre. Stickman, Rainbow Fish, Tale of Mr Tumble, National Ballet Sleeping Beauty for children etc. All specifically aimed at younger children and really lovely. I think anything longer than an hour or so before an interval and they start to get restless!

Summerisdone Tue 11-Apr-17 12:33:12

He has been very good the three times I have taken him to the cinema, and he has watched Matilda the film and is fine with that, but from what some of you are saying I'm presuming the musical is a bit darker and scarier than the movie.
My problem I have is that with it being so far away until the performance date it's really quite difficult to be able to tell now if he would get scared or even if he could sit through something so long. I will try him with pantomimes first and perhaps look at what other shows are on near us that may be more 'young child friendly', this way he will get used to what to expect and how to behave as he becomes old enough for me to take him to see west end productions.

2014newme Tue 11-Apr-17 12:38:26

I think that's a good idea. Lion king is better for little ones than matilda

TheatreTaxi Tue 11-Apr-17 13:41:29

I second the advice to try something shorter and pre-schooler friendly before attempting Matilda. The show has a fair few characters and scenes that little ones might be bothered by: Miss Trunchbull and Mr. Wormwood are both nasty characters who treat children badly, the "big kids" in the playground scene are quite menacing, the Escapologist shouts angrily about his daughter's ill-treatment, etc. The "chokey lockdown" bit towards the end is very loud with lots of laser lights.

In addition, the plot is quite complicated, because a number of story strands are developed in interleaving scenes, and Matilda's episodic story-telling in particular needs the audience to remember where she is up to in the story. I think a 4-year-old would struggle to maintain enough concentration to follow the plot. My DCs each saw Matilda for the first time aged 6 - DC1 was spell-bound throughout, but DC2 struggled to pay attention towards the end. I'd say 6 is a reasonable minimum age.

You should definitely go though - it's a brilliant show grin

grannytomine Tue 11-Apr-17 14:13:09

When my daughter was young she desperately wanted to see Joseph, her little brother was 4 and incapable of sitting still and even less capable of being quiet. We had no one to have him. We booked a box and took sweets, books, games and thought he would be able to play on the floor of the box without bothering anyone.

Well they always prove you wrong don't they? He absolutely loved it, sat through the whole thing and didn't make a sound through the whole thing.

I still think a box is a good idea with little ones if your theatre has one.

FairytalesAreBullshit Tue 11-Apr-17 14:16:33

They do child friendly plays at times when they expect DC so noise isn't an issue. I'd call up your local theatre & ask if they have anything like that.

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