Note: The age recommendations are a suggestion, but parents should use their discretion in choosing the productions mentioned below.
Ever thought of bringing your kids to New York City to experience Broadway at it’s best, but ditched the idea because of the expense? Well, I’ve got a solution for that. The Berkshires is ripe with family-friendly theater experiences — classic musicals, kid-centered Shakespeare productions, world-premiers and so much more. And get this … many of them feature actual Broadway stars.
This season Barrington Stage Company will stage Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance (recommended for ages 10+) on its updated, hip Main Stage on Union Street in Pittsfield. “With its swashbuckling pirates, innocent lovers, bumbling policemen and a Major-General who sings one of the most famous patter songs in musical theatre history, The Pirates of Penzance is sure to be a treat for the whole family.” During Pirates’ July 15-Aug. 13 run Berkshire Family Focus will be collaborating with the theater company to bring you Family Pirate Tuesdays, where families are encouraged to dress like a pirate and get a photo taken with the cast; and all kids will receive a pirate tattoo. Tickets start at $25. Note: Look for our upcoming Family Pirate Tuesday giveaways and a $75 ticket buys you a seat on stage right in the swashbuckling action!! (Must be age 12+ to sit on stage).
BSC will also stage one of two youth and community musical productions in the region The Wiz ( (the other is Berkshire Theatre Group’s Beauty and the Beast. Read more about it below). These musicals feature abundantly talented community members and never fail to entertain! The Wiz will be performed on the easy-for-kids-to-see-from-any-seat stage at the Berkshire Museum, 39 South St. in Pittsfield, July 27-Aug. 14 (tickets are $10-$16; but be sure to look for our BFF ticket giveaways coming soon).
On the South end of Pittsfield’s Downtown Cultural District, Berkshire Theatre Group will present Little Shop of Horrors (recommended for ages 12+) at the historic Colonial Theatre on South Street July 6-23. “In this hit-filled and hair-raising killer-comedy-rock musical, a nerdy florist finds his chance for success and romance with the help of a giant man-eating plant.” I can’t wait! Little Shop of Horrors happens to be one of my favorite musicals! Tickets run $25-$75.
As stated above Berkshire Theater Group’s annual community production will be Beauty and the Beast (ages 5 and up), once again featuring the impressive talent raised right here in the Berkshires. The production, staged at the Colonial Theater, will run from Aug. 11 to Aug. 19 (tickets are $20-$50; again look for an upcoming giveaway). Just entering the exquisitely gorgeous Colonial Theater is like stepping into another era. If you want to be transported to another place and time, get tickets to one of BTG’s two exciting musicals, settle into the air-conditioned theater and be swept away to Broadway!
Also at the Berkshire Museum this season, Berkshire Children’s Theater will present “The Wizard of Oz” (ages 5 and up) on July 8 and 9 at 11 a.m. each day (tickets are $3-$15; children under 3 are free.) Come see the Berkshires’ youngest creative performers as they run this show onstage and backstage.
With Central Berkshire abundant in family theater opportunities, family theater can also be found at both ends of the county. At the North end, your oldest teens will enjoy the star-studded Romance Novels for Dummies (NOTE: There is some swearing, but it is lighthearted and funny) at Williamstown Theater Festival, running July 20-31 on the Main Stage (tickets are $40-68), as well as its newest free family-friendly theater opportunity for all ages, Orpheus in the Berkshires running July 14-17 at Greylock Works in North Adams. And for kids of all ages in North County, the Starlight Stage Youth Theatre, in its 41st Season, will conclude its annual summer camp with a performance of A Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Aug. 3 -5 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 6 at 2 p.m. at the First Congregational Church on Main Street in Williamstown. Tickets are for sale at the door and are $10 for adults and $7 for children.
Heading south to Lenox, Shakespeare & Company will delight your family with it’s outdoor production of Twelfth Night (ages 11 and up) July 14-Aug. 20 at The Mount (tickets $14.50-$24.50). S&Co. will also present the world-premiere of Emperor of the Moon for families at the Rose Footprint Theater at its Lenox campus. “When love strikes, chaos ensues and a coup of astronomic proportions results. Sisters, suitors, servants, and a father obsessed with the moon set the stage for a stellar farce performed under the open-air tent offering audiences of every age a hearty dose of mayhem, music and merriment.” Emperor will run July 15 to Aug. 20 (tickets are $4.50-$19.50.) Go a bit further South to Lee to enjoy the Family First Saturdays the first Saturday of each month in Lee at the Spectrum Playhouse on Franklin Street for FREE theatrical performances featuring clowns, puppets, pirates and more, as well as another opportunity to catch the Wizard of Oz Friday, July 15, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, July 16, at 2 p.m.; Thursday, July 21, at 2 p.m.; and Friday, July 22, at 7 p.m.
You would be remiss if you missed this next production, so I’m telling you DO NOT MISS The Tempest presented at the amphitheater at the First Street Common by Pittsfield’s Shakespeare in the Park opening July 21t and running through August 7th, Thursdays-Sundays at 8 p.m. This is one of the most exciting opportunities for your family to enjoy theater anywhere and it’s right here in the Berkshires and…it’s FREE! Arrive early for the pre-show serenade, bring your lawn chairs, blankets and picnic; and settle in under the stars for a truly magical evening.
Lastly families can step across our borders to Chatham, New York, where the Mac-Hayden Theater will South Pacific (ages 8 and up), Chicago (teens), Into the Woods (12 and up), and Sister Act (ages 11 and up) this July and August. Family with younger children will love the company’s children’s theater with performances on Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. of Hansel and Gretel (age 5 and up); The Frog Prince (all ages), and Seussical (ages 5 and up). Each performance runs for two weeks and only costs $10 per ticket. A steal for these kid-friendly productions that even the young-at-heart will enjoy, too. Also be sure to visit our neighbors to the north in historic Bennington, Vt. to catch Big River, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (ages 10 and up), the critically acclaimed and multiple award-winning musical at Oldcastle Theatre Company running July 8-24 (ticket prices range from $12-$37).
Families who are fortunate enough to to live here and visitors to the region are definitely in for a theatrical treat this summer, so I hope you can find the time to experience a little of this family-friendly Berkshires theater magic.