The 7 best Chicago theater shows that your teens will love to see this fall

The Chicago theater scene is fantastic for audience members of all ages, including tweens and teens. If you’re looking to get them to put their devices down and connect with you, there are some great upcoming productions that both parents and adolescents will love.

Les Miserables

Oct. 11-29

Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago

Kids under 5 not admitted

Whether you already love Les Miserables or you’re seeing it for the first time, sharing the experience with your kids who are old enough to appreciate it is amazing. New staging and reimagined scenery make this production feel fresh, while favorite songs and timeless themes make it easy to understand why this musical has been a hit for three decades.

The Crucible

Oct. 4-25, with weekend performances from Oct. 7-21

Steppenwolf for Young Adults, Chicago

Appropriate for kids in grades 8 and higher

Although Arthur Miller’s The Crucible first premiered more than 60 years ago, this tale about the Salem Witch Trials that was an allegory for McCarthyism is as relevant as ever. The play explores the question of when fabrications become facts. It has become an American classic, and this Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ production directed by Jonathan Berry is aimed specifically at teens.

42nd Street

Oct. 26-Jan. 7

Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace

Recommended for ages 5 and up

Kick it old school with this beloved Broadway classic. 42nd Street may have given us the hit “Lullaby of Broadway,” but it definitely doesn’t put anyone to sleep. The show-stopping tap numbers do quite the opposite, in fact. It’s very easy to get sucked into the story of Peggy Sawyer landing a big break in New York City with the chance of a lifetime to rise from showgirl to star.

Akeelah and the Bee

Oct. 27-Nov. 25

Adventure Stage Chicago, Northwestern

Settlement’s Vittum Theater, Chicago

Recommended for ages 8 and up

After discovering her special talent with words, Akeelah dreams of winning the national spelling bee. With the support of her teacher and her friends, she fights to overcome every obstacle and make it to the top. Adapted to the stage and set in Chicago, Akeelah and the Bee is a testament to community and determination in the face of social, cultural and economic hardship. Each production is presented with Spanish supertitles and a Curtain Conversation, a question audiences are asked to keep in mind as they watch the play and return to it after the show. It’s a great way to start a conversation with young theatergoers.

School of Rock

Nov. 1-19

Cadillac Palace Theatre, Chicago

Recommended for ages 8 and up

We’ve never had a substitute teacher like Dewey Finn in School of Rock, but we wish we did. This high-energy show about how he transforms a group of very serious students into a very impressive rock band has its fair share of laughs—and new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Seeing the young performers playing their instruments live on stage not only will have everyone rocking out, but it may even motivate your kids to practice their instruments a bit more. (Parenting win!)


Nov. 22-Jan. 7

The Paramount Theatre, Aurora

Kids 2 and under not admitted

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by heading to Aurora to see this fun production of Elf (and also by singing loud for all to hear, of course). This adaptation of the hilarious film brings Buddy the Elf to the stage and features songs like “A Christmas Song” and “Sparklejollytwinklejingley.” Buddy’s infectious cheer and enthusiasm will appeal to adolescents and adults alike, as will the show, with its laughs and sweet message about what it means to be a family.


Oct. 25-Dec. 31

Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire

Recommended for ages 9 and up

Seize the day by taking your older kids to see a high-energy show about inspiring teens. Newsies centers around the New York City Newsboy Strike of 1899, and focuses on Jack Kelly, a leader of a ragged band of teenaged ‘newsies’ who dream of a better life. Jack rallies newsboys from across the city to fight publishing titans, and they do so in a way that leaves audience members of all ages cheering.

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