When it comes to taking kids to theatrical performances, pay close attention to two important words: age appropriateness.
Theater, dance, music … we LOVE the performing arts. We also think it’s important to introduce children to that magic, but only at age-appropriate performances. Sometimes kids are too young to attend even family-friendly events.
We recently went to a show suitable for families — ones with kids ages 6 and older — yet there was an abundance of toddlers in the audience. Disruptive toddlers. Ones who couldn’t sit still. Ones whining, screaming and talking through most of the show. There were also a couple of crying infants whose parents didn’t bother to remove them from the setting.
A mother sitting next to us, embarrassed by her own 2-year-old’s antics, sheepishly uttered, “Sorry, this is the first time I’ve brought her to something like this.” It was as if she was expecting a pass of, “Oh, it’s OK.” It’s wasn’t OK. Unfortunately, she wasn’t sorry enough to remove her disruptive child from the environment where other theater patrons paid $97 a pop for their seats. That situation ruined the experience for several patrons who spent a good clip of money in hopes of a delightful outing.
Granted, it’s not the children’s fault — they’re simply too young to be thrust into that environment with an expectation to be quiet. It is, however, extremely rude and selfish on the part of the parents who bring them.
Perhaps part of the solution may come from theater companies and venues placing age restrictions on ticket sales/entrance to the theater. For instance, “no one younger than 5 years old admitted to the theater” unless it’s a production for the toddler/preschool set. Springhouse Theatre Company in Smyrna doesn’t permit anyone younger than 4 to its shows. It’s a nice way to help make sure the audience has an enjoyable time at the show.
We love what Nashville Children’s Theatre (NCT) did when it remodeled its space in 2007. In an effort to keep disruptions to a minimum, NCT built a brilliant sound-proof “Comfort Room” in the back of the theater where parents can take their noisy little ones should the need arise.
It would be nice to see more establishments take a note from both Springhouse and NCT’s strategies. Just sayin’.