A show-stopping experience: What it’s like to attend a Broadway show with young kids

Sep 30, 2021

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In May, when former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Broadway would be returning and shows would start selling tickets, I looked at my “Wicked”-obsessed wife and daughters and said, “Want to go see Wicked on Broadway in September?”

After a blank-faced, silent shock at the question, there were scenes of jubilation in our living room and 10 minutes later, our tickets to see Wicked on Broadway were purchased and our plans were set.

But then, it hit me. My 8-year-old twins aren’t vaccinated yet. Would vaccine restrictions force us to ax our trip to experience newly opened Broadway?

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While parents await a universally approved vaccine for young children, Broadway has several shows that allow vaccinated adults to be accompanied by children under 12, if they’re tested. Thankfully, Broadway has provided clear guidelines for showgoers to follow in order to catch their favorite shows live and in person.

This is what it was like to attend a show with kids in tow, now that Broadway has officially returned.

(Photo by Juan Ruiz/The Points Guy)

Related: Curtains up: TPG’s guide to Broadway’s fall reopening

In This Post

Testing requirements

If you want to attend a Broadway show in New York City, you’ll need to be vaccinated and show proof. While a picture of your vaccination card and photo identification works for admission, we chose to follow the Broadway direct guidelines as they specified to download the NYC Covid Safe app and upload your ID and vaccination card on the app.

(Screenshot courtesy of Broadway Direct)

For children 12 and younger who aren’t eligible to be vaccinated, they must provide proof of one of the following instead of evidence of vaccination:

  • Negative COVID-19 PCR test performed by a medical provider within 72 hours of the performance start time. The test results must clearly show the date and time of the test
  • Negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test taken within six hours of the performance start time. The test results must clearly show the date and time of the test. This test may be performed by a medical professional or by using an over-the-counter testing kit.
(Screenshot courtesy of Broadway Direct)

We purchased the two-kit Abbott’s BinaxNow COVID-19 Home Tests via Optum for both our daughters and packed the kits in our carry-on bag. If you’re attending a Broadway show in the near term with children under 12 years of age, you can choose to purchase a COVID-19 PCR test and furnish a negative test result 72 hours prior to the show or a rapid antigen test within six hours of showtime.

Before arrival

Because the show policy requires a negative COVID-19 antigen test result within six hours of show time, we returned to our hotel room in the late afternoon on the day of our show, to assure we were within the six-hour window for our 8 p.m. show.

(Photo by Juan Ruiz/The Points Guy)

From our cell phones in our hotel room, we followed directions on the test kit packet and proceeded with the nasal swab test, accompanied by a live, certified guide to proctor the test. After waiting 15 minutes, the guide came back to verify our negative test result and immediately I received an email confirmation which would be my proof at the theater.

(Screenshot courtesy of eMed Labs)


At the theater

Once you’ve purchased your Broadway tickets, you’ll receive an email with suggested arrival times based on your seat location for your particular show. This is done in order to stagger the admission process and to avoid large crowds forming at the entrance of the theater.

(Screenshot courtesy of Broadway Direct)

We arrived promptly at the Gershwin Theatre at our designated time, 15 minutes before the show was to start.

Immediately, we noticed there was a two-step admission process to enter the venue.

First, adults need to show vaccination cards (on your phone or in the NYC Covid Safe app) and proof of identification, along with the negative COVID-19 test results within the required time frame for any children under 12 in your party. I pulled up the email I received from eMed Labs with my daughters’ negative COVID-19 antigen test results and showed it to the attendant just outside the theater entrance doors.

(Photo by Juan Ruiz/The Points Guy)

Once we relinquished proof of our vaccination status and satisfactory testing requirements for the kids, we were granted access and an usher scanned our tickets and directed us to our seats.

During the show

The eager crowd was energized and a packed house complied with the mask requirement, with ushers politely (but resoundingly) reminding show attendees of the theater’s mask rule and etiquette.

(Photo by Juan Ruiz/The Points Guy)

Excitement filled the air, almost as if everyone in attendance understood the privilege of being back inside a theater, watching a Broadway show live and in color, with real actors on stage.

Bottom line

After a year-and-a-half-long hiatus, Broadway is back and better than ever.

Prior to the show, I was anxious about the extra hurdles required to witness a show in person with my kids, but thankfully, the process was easy. My daughters cheered and revered the brilliant actors onstage and as parents, we didn’t have to worry about masking or vaccine requirements, since all in attendance needed to substantiate proof of vaccination or supply a negative COVID-19 test result in order to enter the theater.

Parents attending a Broadway show with children under 12 will need to have their child produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test result within 72 hours of show time or a negative COVID-19 antigen test within six hours of the performance start time. Then once your child’s negative test result has arrived, follow the theater arrival guidelines and give yourself a standing ovation. You did it. You saw a show on Broadway again!

Featured photo by Juan Ruiz/The Points Guy.
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