Insider Tips for Theater Under the Stars in Houston

Insider Tips for Taking a Preschooler to the Theater - Little Mermaid at TUTS (Theater Under the Stars) Houston

This past weekend Mr T and I had a wonderful evening at the theater.  We saw Theatre Under The Stars’ (TUTS) production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid here in Houston.

This was his first experience at the theater and I learned quite a few things along the way. Now we did have a great time and he was happy as a clam but if I could go back I would do a couple of things different. So join me as I share some of my insider tips on taking a preschooler to the theater.

*** Full disclosure: I did receive complimentary tickets to the show as a member of the media. All opinions are my own. This post may also contain affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links. ***


1. Pick the Right Show Time

Once you have decided on the play (hopefully child appropriate) the next decision is picking the right show time.

Weekend matinees (typically 2 pm) are most popular for bringing kids too. This works for most people but if 2 o’clock happens to be your child’s nap time you may have some difficulty.

Also there are fewer matinee options and they may sell out. So if you want are set on a matinee make your purchase early.

Enjoying some of the photo ops in the lobby

Enjoying some of the photo ops in the lobby

But if your child is a night owl (Mr T is and Mr J is not) there are evening performance that start between 7 and 8 o’clock that may work better for you. And there are more of them so you will have more options.

Do note that you will be getting out around 10:30 so keep that in mind. (Mr J is not pleasant to be around if he gets tired)

This was pushing it for Mr T. He was fine during the first act but started to get sleepy during the second. But he rallied through and as we left we were surrounded by children of all varying ages doing the same.




2. Choose the Perfect Seats

Thank goodness technology has gotten us to where we are and we can choose the exact seats we want. So try with all your might to find a seat that has good viewing for your child.

Basic guidelines are:

  • Front Row Of A Section – Front rows eliminate that issue of the tall person that ALWAYS sits in front of a short person.
  • Sit to the Side – Contrary to what you would choose avoid the center. Seats along the side sections allow you to view the stage at an angle avoiding the person’s head blocking view issue.
  • First Seat of a Row – Anyone sitting on the side in the first row with an aisle pointing towards the stage is going to have an unimpeded view.
Sitting to the side allows for a better view of the stage.

Sitting to the side allows for a better view of the stage.

Our seats were PERFECT. We were on the left side of the Orchestra and we had the first seats (the aisle was on our right). Mt T could see the entire stage without worrying about the women with big hair sitting in front of us.

Insider Tip:
I spoke with the attendant for our section and she stated we had some of her favorite seats.

Yes, I will tell you. They are Row S seats 1 and 2 (either right or left orchestra) and Row V seats 5 and 6 (orchestra center).


3. Get a Booster Seat

At TUTS (Theater Under the Stars) they do rent booster seats.

They cost $5 to rent with a $20 refundable deposit. (NOTE: They DO NOT take credit cards so you will have to bring cash with you.)

Get a booster seat so your little one is more on your level

Get a booster seat so your little one is more on your level

I did not have cash and there was some finagling but I did finally procure one for Mr T.

I will have to say these booster seats are hollow on the inside and there is no hard bottom on them. This made them prone to slipping. I had to pull Mr T back into the seat a couple of times during the performance.

Insider Tip:
You can bring your own booster seat!!!

This will save you money and time. You won’t have to wait in line to return the seat at the end of the evening or deal with that pesky cash only situation.

And your boost seat will sit better on the chair meaning fewer chances for a tip over.



4. Get the Sippy Cup

Best purchase you can ever make. When you get there walk up to the refreshment stand and get your drink of choice (they do have alcoholic for Mommy and Daddy) and have them put it into their souvenir cup with a lid.

Souvenir cup lets you take drinks into the theater

Souvenir cup lets you take drinks into the theater

This $3 purchase will let you take the drink into the theater and you can let your child drink on it throughout the show. (the non alcoholic drinks of course)

These cups can be brought back for use at future shows. Yeah!!!

Insider Tip:
Pre-purchase your intermission snacks and drinks.

When you get your drinks or snacks before the show go ahead and purchase your intermission items. When you come out for intermission you can just head to the back of the bar and it is sitting there ready for you. No lines!

Another benefit of the pre-purchase is you can go straight to the restroom prior to picking your items up at the bar.

And let me tell you if you are heading to the women’s restroom there is NOT enough time to go to the bathroom and stand in the line at the bar. You have to choose one or the other.



How did we like the play?

We were unanimous. We LOVED it! Mr T was riveted all the way through (except for a couple of yawns towards the end)

He was drawn to the role of the Little Mermaid Ariel (played by Alison Woods). He fully understood she was flying through water and anytime she began to ‘swim’ his head would move forward to see it all.

Alison Woods as Ariel.  Photo by Bruce Bennett, courtesy of Theatre Under The Stars.

Alison Woods as Ariel. Photo by Bruce Bennett, courtesy of Theatre Under The Stars.

I of course was drawn to Sebastian (played by Melvin Abston) as he again stole the show. I mean how can you compete with the ‘Under The Sea’ number.

Melvin Abston as Sebastian, Alison Woods as Ariel and the cast of The Little Mermaid.  Photo by Bruce Bennett, courtesy of Theatre Under The Stars.

Melvin Abston as Sebastian, Alison Woods as Ariel and the cast of The Little Mermaid. Photo
by Bruce Bennett, courtesy of Theatre Under The Stars.

And the scene with the Chef had enough physical humor it to have all the kids (some older than most) pointing and laughing at the Chef’s missing pants and hair. They nailed it!

Jeff Skowron as Chef Louis, Eric Kunze as Prince Eric and the cast of The Little Mermaid. Photo by Bruce Bennett, courtesy of Theatre Under The Stars.

Jeff Skowron as Chef Louis, Eric Kunze as Prince Eric and the cast of The Little Mermaid. Photo
by Bruce Bennett, courtesy of Theatre Under The Stars.

I also did catch some updated material. They got a couple of ‘Frozen’ references in that made the entire audience laugh.

And I believe at one point I saw a hidden Mickey among the bubbles.

I swear there is a hidden Mickey. Jamie Torcellini as Scuttle, Alison Woods as Ariel and the cast of The Little Mermaid. Photo by Bruce Bennett, courtesy of Theatre Under The Stars.

I swear there is a hidden Mickey. Jamie Torcellini as Scuttle, Alison Woods as Ariel and the cast of The Little Mermaid. Photo by
Bruce Bennett, courtesy of Theatre Under The Stars.

All and all it was another great performance brought to Houston by TUTS (Theater Under the Stars).

I believe Matilda is up next and I know I am going to be looking for seats. (Row S seats 1 and 2 so don’t even think of taking them – I’ll be watching)

Matilda at TUTS - October 6 thru 18

Matilda at TUTS – October 6 thru 18

Do you have any insider tips I may have missed? Either for visiting TUTS or for taking children to the theater in general? I would love to know!

Insider Tips for Taking a Preschooler to the Theater - Little Mermaid at TUTS (Theater Under the Stars) Houston
Insider Tips for Taking a Preschooler to the Theater - Little Mermaid at TUTS (Theater Under the Stars) Houston

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