10 Plays & Musicals You Can Read as Bedtime Stories

Bedtime stories are a cherished tradition, fostering imagination and encouraging quality time between kids and their caregivers. But they don’t have to include reading from books—plays and musicals can be a delightful way to introduce new stories to little ones! Make it even more fun by creating your own voices for each character and playing songs from the musicals while you read. From classic tales to whimsical adventures, these titles are sure to spark joy and inspire sweet dreams for children and parents alike.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Timothy Mason

One of the most beloved characters of American fiction, Tom Sawyer is a force of nature—whether he’s sneaking out of his Aunt Polly’s house at night to visit the graveyard, or duping his playmates into white-washing a fence, or stealing a kiss from the ravishing Becky Thatcher, or taking a stand against the murderous Injun Joe. Tom’s small-town adventures on the banks of the Mississippi are the magical essence of childhood, a joyous leap into the great river of time and memory.

Anne of Green Gables by Peter DeLaurier

When aging brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert send to the orphanage in Nova Scotia for a boy to help them on the farm, they get more than they bargain for. Due to a mix-up, they are instead left with 11-year-old Anne Shirley. Over the course of six years, this romantic, hot-headed, and energetic girl wins their hearts and turns the stodgy, rural Canadian community into a bright world of “kindred spirits.” This swift yet theatrical adaptation of the classic novel is an all-ages crowd-pleaser.

Crocodile Day by P.C. Verrone

In this reimagining of Peter Pan from the perspective of Neverland’s Indigenous tribe, twins Tho and Satesan are tasked with summoning Crocodile to their people’s most treasured celebration: Crocodile Day! But things quickly spiral out of control on an island filled with pesky fairies, greedy pirates, deadly mermaids, and that annoying flying boy. To save Crocodile Day, Tho and Satesan must find the strength to overcome their doubts and tell their own story.

The Dinosaur Musical, music by Robert Reale, book & lyrics by Willie Reale

It is the end of the Cretaceous period. A giant meteor collides with the earth and wreaks havoc with the ecosystem. In order to avoid extinction, the Dinosaurs sign a peace pact called the Treaty of Meat. For a time there is peace between the Carnivores and the Herbivores. But when the wise King of the Tyrannosauruses suddenly dies and his none-too-clever thirteen-year-old son, Quincy, rises to power, trouble begins. King Quincy leads the Tyrannosauruses on a terrible rampage. Carlotta Devries, a Parasaurolophus singing star, and her thirteen-year-old daughter, Mindy, narrowly escape Quincy’s forces and take refuge at Swifty’s Volcano Café, the clandestine headquarters for the Dinosaur resistance. The café is run by Swifty Levine, a Triceratops comedian, and is staffed with a variety of zany, peaceable Dinosaurs. Can the power of goodwill win out over the forces of evil? It’s a family show…so yes. The Dinosaur Musical is a madcap, jazzy prehistoric musical comedy combining the intrigue and romance of a Hollywood World War II epic with a perky adolescent parent trap. Throw in some Borsht Belt comedy, an erupting volcano and the invention of spaghetti and you’ve got something for everyone of any age.

Lions in Illyria by Robert Kauzlaric

Giraffes are gentlemen, aardvarks are card sharks, and animals rule the world in this retelling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. When young lioness Violet is separated from her twin brother by a storm at sea, she must find her way alone in an unknown country. Disguised as a boy, she finds work helping a preposterous peacock win the love of the most graceful gazelle in town, but it’s not long before Violet is torn between multiple masters and the whole menagerie is tangled in matters of the heart. Travel to the weird and wonderful land of Illyria in this magical, clever comedy.

Peter Pan and Wendy adapted by Doug Rand

Rediscover the loopy fun and the darker corners of J.M. Barrie’s original novel with this faithful, fast-moving, and easy-to-stage adaptation. When the carefree and careless Peter Pan flies into the nursery of the Darling home, Wendy follows her instincts for maternity and adventure, bringing her little brothers along to the magical Neverland to take care of the motherless Lost Boys. Soon the Darling children are swept into Peter’s deadly battle with Captain Hook and his mostly-fearsome pirate crew. With so much excitement, why ever go home again?

The Plain Princess: The Musical, book & lyrics by Jim Christian, music by Tom Edward Clark

Once upon a time in a distant kingdom, an outwardly plain and inwardly ugly princess was sent to live with a mysterious woman and her family in the hopes of making her more attractive to the realm’s princes. During her stay, she learns the value of inner beauty and the meaning of a caring and unselfish life. The Plain Princess, adapted from an original fairy tale with enchanting music and lyrics, is perfect family entertainment that ends happily ever after.

Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical, book by Melvin Tunstall III, music & lyrics by Greg Borowsky & Douglas Lyons

Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical follows 8-year-old Lily Polkadot who just moved to the “Squares Only” small town of Rockaway. As the first Polkadot in an all Square school, Lily faces an almost impossible task of gaining acceptance from her peers. From daily bullying to segregated drinking fountains, Lily’s quest seems hopeless until she meets Sky, a shy Square boy whose curiosity for her unique polkadot skin blooms into an unexpected pal-ship. Inspired by the events of The Little Rock 9, Polkadots serves as a colorful history lesson for children, reminding them that our individual differences make us awesome, not outcasts.

The Princess & the Pea by John O’Hara

King Pendleton and Queen Pandora are in search of the perfect match for their son Prince Pete. With the help of wisecracking Granny Primrose, uptight Lord Pendragon, and sweet Lady Jean, the kingdom has summoned a plethora of princesses to compete for their son’s affection. Add a stack of mattresses, switched identities, and a mysterious late night visitor, and you end up with the wackiest (and probably first) fairy tale dating game. The princesses may be fierce competitors, but who will win the Prince’s heart?

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman

When a young Vietnamese girl plants beans in a vacant lot to connect with the memory of her father, the diverse group of locals who take notice find a connection of their own in a spirited effort to re-imagine their run-down neighborhood. The first year in the life of a community garden unfolds in this “spoken musical,” adapted from the award-winning children’s novel of the same name, as the voices of characters from far-flung backgrounds converge in a rhythmic hymn to community.

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