Introducing your kids to live theater is always a thrill, and visiting one of the performing arts centers in NJ is a great way to start. Sure, we live a car ride from Broadway, but you don’t have to go to the city (or spend Broadway prices) to get top-notch theatrical productions in the Garden State. Read on to where you can go to find family-friendly entertainment at a performing arts center in New Jersey. And just in time for the holidays, don’t miss our guide to holiday performances this season. (featured photo credit: iStock/Criben)
North Jersey – Performing Arts Centers In NJ
Bergen Performing Arts Center, also known as bergenPAC
Reaching more than 150,000 theater-goers a year, bergenPAC hosts over 200 events annually—ranging from concerts to stand-up shows to dance productions and family-friendly kids programming. They also provide arts instruction in dance, theater, music, and more, via their performing arts school for students aged 3 to 21.
30 North Van Brunt St., Englewood, NJ 07631
Hackensack Performing Arts Center with Hackensack Meridian Health Theater
Find top performers from Broadway and Hollywood (many live in the area) on stage at this new theater, with shows for all ages and across all arts disciplines, like music, plays, comedy shows, and more.
102 State Street, Hackensack, NJ 07601
Paper Mill Playhouse
Considered a pre-Broadway venue across the Hudson, the Paper Mill Playhouse has top-notch performances of new and classic musicals for the whole family (many feature Broadway actors who call NJ home). The arts center also has classes for kids, teens, and even adults.
22 Brookside Drive, Millburn, NJ 07041
Mayo Performing Arts Center
The MAYO features a weekly roster of popular musical acts, dance troupes, family theater, musicals, and comedy shows in downtown Morristown. There are also free community events throughout the year sponsored by the theater.
100 South St., Morristown, NJ 07960
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC)
Known for its performing arts offerings that range from music to dance and plays, this urban entertainment destination has options for family outings and date nights (because sometimes we need those, too!).
1 Center St., Newark, NJ 07102
South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC)
SOPAC performances feature an eclectic mix of musicians, theater, and children’s shows. In addition to the theater, there’s a loft above the mainstage theatre used for smaller performances, rehearsals, classes, and special events.
1 SOPAC Way, South Orange, NJ 07079
The Growing Stage, The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey
Aptly named The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey, The Growing Stage is all about kids and families, with shows featuring professional and youth performers. The theater has sensory-friendly performances to meet the needs of all individuals, plus a creative arts academy and playwrighting festival for young writers.
7 Ledgewood Ave., Netcong, NJ 07857
Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC)
With four performance spaces – UCPAC Main Stage, Hamilton Stage at UCPAC, The Fazioli Room, and The Loft at UCPAC – you’ll find a show for everyone in the family. Programming includes children’s plays and live performances, musicals, film presentations, multicultural programs and events, and live concerts. The arts center also has sensory-friendly theater options.
360 Hamilton St., Rahway, NJ 07065, and 1601 Irving Street, Rahway, NJ 07065
Central Jersey – Performing Arts Centers In NJ
Algonquin Arts Theater
This nonprofit center for performing arts has been a fixture in town since 1938 and today hosts theatre, music, dance, and film programs all year round. Kids can sign up for theater camps during the summer or take classes during the year.
60 Abe Voorhees Drive, Manasquan, NJ 08736
Count Basie Center of the Arts
This performing arts center, located along the Jersey Shore, puts on numerous performances and educational and cultural partnerships throughout the year. Got a kid interested in being a star? Sign up for acting classes and vocal lessons for all ages, improv and dance lessons, and focused music specialties.
99 Monmouth St., Red Bank, NJ 07701
McCarter Theatre Center
Located in the heart of Princeton’s Arts District, the McCarter Theatre brings world-class theater and quality performances to the state. Their popular Theatre Series often includes premieres of new plays that have gone on to Broadway, and they also offer a mix of performance art and cultural attractions and educational programs.
91 University Place, Princeton, NJ 08540
Spring Lake Theatre
The historic 1920s building offers a roster of local productions and musicals for the whole family to enjoy. Most roles are performed by community members and kids who are part of their theater and dance programs.
300 Madison Avenue, Spring Lake, NJ 07762
The State Theater of New Jersey
Located in Central New Jersey, this New Brunswick nonprofit 1,811-seat theater used to showcase silent films back in the day. Now it has popular programs and family-friendly productions on its stage.
15 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick, NJ 08901
South Jersey – Performing Arts Centers In NJ
Broadway Theatre of Pitman
Originally a vaudeville theater that opened in 1926, this South Jersey entertainment spot still has its original 3/8 Kimball theater pipe organ restored to full concert status. Not only does the theatre host concerts, but they have a children’s theater and a summer camp for young, aspiring thespians.
43 S. Broadway, Pitman, NJ 08071
With shows that range from popular musicals to solo entertainers, this theater reaches out to children and the community to make the arts accessible to everyone.
126-130 N. High Street, Millville, NJ 08332
Situated on Long Beach Island, this 450-seat theater has Mainstage shows geared toward various audiences and a Children’s Theatre specifically for ages 2 through 10 years old. There are also musical theater programs for all ages in the summer. Don’t forget to stop by the Show Place Ice Cream Parlor, a tented area where a wait staff sings and dances for you while you enjoy ice cream named after popular musicals.
201 Englewide Ave., Beach Haven, NJ 08008
Which performing arts centers in NJ will you visit? Let us know!
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