Toronto is well-known for offering an impressive array of theatrical experiences, but did you know that also includes plenty of stage shows created with children and their parents in mind? Here are some of the children's theater companies to consider if you'd like to take the whole family out for an afternoon of kid-friendly stage entertainment.
Young People’s Theatre
Previously known as the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People, YPT has been creating outstanding theatrical experiences for children and teens since 1966. Generally the weekday shows are reserved for school groups while the weekends are open to the public, however individual tickets are occasionally available for weekday shows. There is also educational tie-in material for every show available on the website.
Season: October - May, special events in summer
Performance Venue: Young People's Theatre, 165 Front St. East
Price Range: $10 previews, $15/$20 regular season, occasional Pay What You Can
Box Office: Online, in person or call (416) 862-2222
Theatre Direct presents exciting and challenging theatre for both children and teens, frequently presenting inventive shows which include elements such as dance, opera, or influences from other languages and cultures. They also offer camps and classes, and often have special family events such as their occasional $5 Family Sunday Series.
Performance Venue: Two venues in the Artscape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie Street
Price Range: $12-$20, Season Pass available
Box Office: Online, in person, or call (416) 537-4191 x224
Solar Stage Children’s Theatre
With numerous shows throughout the year, Solar Stage Children’s Theatre offers ample opportunity to take children to a live and intimate performance that’s designed just for them.
Season: September - June with one summer show and a summer day camp
Performance Venue: The Madison Centre, 100 Upper Madison Avenue, Concourse Level
Price Range: $13 regular, occasional $12 specials, various multi-show package deals
Box Office: In person, by mail, by fax or call (416) 368-8031
Puppet Allsorts is actually a performance series run by the Toronto Puppetry Collective. They present a show from a different puppeteer or puppet theatre company about once a month. The target age range for each show will vary, so have a look at all of the upcoming performances to find one that's right for your family. Tickets often sell out, so be sure to book in advance!
Performance Venue: Zuke Studio, 1581 Dupont Street
Price Range: $15 - $20, family discount available (three or more tickets)
Frolick Theatre "creates and performs en-heightening and enchanting works of puppet, stilt and masque theatre and site-specific entertainment." While not all of their past shows have been aimed at young audiences, in 2011 they began performing an all-ages summer show on the Toronto Islands, adapted from Winsor McCay's early 1900's comic strip, Little Nemo in Slumberland. Visit the website for details on upcoming/current productions.
Season: Canada Day to Labor Day
Performance Venue: The Lagoon Playhouse on Olympic Island
• Learn how to take the ferry to the Toronto Islands
Ross Petty Productions
A seasonal tradition for many families, the annual “Fractured Fairytale” is a musical adventure designed to entertain ages 3 and up.
Season: November to January
Performance Venue: The Elgin Theatre, 189 Yonge Street
Price Range: $49 - $74, a family pack and group rates are available
Box Office: In person at the Elgin, online or call (416) 872-5555 (Ticketmaster)
Famous PEOPLE Players
The whole family can enjoy lunch or dinner before taking in an hour-long black-light performance by the truly famous Famous PEOPLE Players. If you’re not familiar with the work of this inspired theatre company, visit the website to get the whole story.
Performance Venue: Dine and Dream Theatre, 343 Evans Avenue
Price Range: $40-$62 (meal included), Group rates available
Box Office: (416) 532-1137 or toll free 1-888-453-3385
Although most of the comedy presented at The Second City is meant for those 18 years and older, this famous comedy club near the CN Tower offers a special matinee for families during many holidays and on some weekends.
Performance Venue: 51 Mercer Street
Price Range: $14, with family packs available
Box Office: In person, online, or call (416) 343-0011
Part attraction and part theater, Medieval Times lets families watch a live joust while they dine… without utensils! It can be great fun cheering on “your” knight, but a word of caution based on personal experience - leave your friends with horse allergies at home.
Performance Venue: Medieval Times Castle, 10 Dufferin Street, Exhibition Place
Price Range: $40.95-$63.95, package deals and extras available
Box Office: Online or call 1-888-WE-JOUST (1-888-935-6878)
There are also a number of Toronto TYA theatre companies which specialize in bringing touring shows into schools and other venues. Some of the companies offer public presentations a few times a year, and of course you can get in touch if you are interested in booking them to perform in your community:
Disclosure note: As a member of the Toronto theatre community Marilyn is friends with various people associated with Solar Stage, spent a season working as an usher for Young People's Theatre and was recommended for an Ontario Arts Council grant by Theatre Direct.