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What Do You Mean Its Not For Kids / Theatre

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  • Avenue Q. Almost all the characters are Sesame Street-style puppets. Misguided adults might decide to take their children (despite the warning signs outside the theatre). Then the puppets curse and have sex and sing about porn.
    • There's misguided adults taking their own misguided family-friendly selves along, too. Heard inside the theater lobby before the show: a poor souvenir vendor attempting to explain to an increasingly-shocked-and-disgusted adult patron what "Yeah, They're Real" referred to.
    • Actors performing in the UK tour regularly tweet about seeing very young children in the audience.
    • There is actually a PG-13 rated version of the show meant for high schools to perform called "Avenue Q: School Edition", which cuts out all the inappropriate material. For example, Lucy the Slut and Mrs. Thistletwat's names were changed to "Lucy" and "Mrs. Butz", and the song "The Internet is for Porn" is now "My Social Life is Online".
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    • The "Avenue Q is for kids" phenomenon was spoofed in the satire musical Forbidden Broadway Special Victims Unit.
      "And although we're a low, hasty put-in show, the kiddies cheer on cue... Families come, if they're dumb, but then out they go, when our fuzzy people screw! Don't expect The Muppets, these are horny puppets, rated X on Avenue Q!"
  • The Reduced Shakespeare Company: Parents bring their children to watch dirty raps and puppet shagging. One can also count Shakespeare in general. (However can classics be utterly filthy?)
  • The Eight: The Reindeer Monologues. Oh so very much. Poor misguided parents, bringing their children into a play chock full of f-bombs, discussions of sexual abuse and discriminatory language, all because the cast wears cute little antlers and it's about Rudolph and Santa at Christmas. As this Australian venue puts it "Leave the young ones at home with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads."
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  • Hamilton is a mild example, since the musical has gained large cultural prominence and is a historical lesson on the great Founding Father's life. This may lead some elementary school teachers to take their kids (because it's educational!). The musical actually has several instances of strong language such as "shit" and "fuck" in the lyrics. Then there's the whole adultery incident with Maria Reynolds, and the duels... Overall, if musicals had movie ratingsnote , Hamilton would get a PG-13note . Needless to say, many teenagers have enjoyed the musical. Eventually, a recording of the original cast was released on Disney+, albeit edited for content.
  • Waiting for Godot is on some fifth-grade reading lists because the words aren't very complicated. Even though it makes no freaking sense even to adults. In a way, this is actually worse than showing kids something violent or sexual — how do you explain to a child that she got an F on her analysis of the play because she said it was about two people waiting for Godot? They also discuss hanging themselves so they can get an erection. The only reason they don't is because the rope breaks.
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  • At one point in its London run, The Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies offered free tickets to children. Beyond the fact that Phantom isn't kid-friendly to begin with, the sequel features the following: Alcoholism, stripping, infidelity which allegedly produced a child out of wedlock, a song with accidentally pedophilic undertones and murder.
  • Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods. Oh, it's a cheery musical with all of our favorite fairy tale characters together! Then Act Two comes around, most of the characters get killed by a rampaging giant, and suddenly it's not so cheery anymore. The show has enjoyed myriad School Play productions anyway, but as of The New '10s the show's licenser offers a "Junior" version for school and children's theater groups that drops the second act.
    • Like the musical, the only-slightly-softened 2014 Disney film adaptation went through the same thing. What's worse is that Common Sense Media says it's appropriate for ten-year-olds.
  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a show about elementary school and middle school children at a spelling bee. Then comes the four-letter words, vulgar-sounding words, and an entire song about Chip's boner.
  • The Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons-themed musical Jersey Boys would seem to be a wholesome, family-friendly musical considering how wholesome and family-friendly the music of the Four Seasons (and Frankie Valli himself) is, but is laden with profanities, double entendres, and very adult situations. This is why there's always a big sign posted in the lobbies of theaters showing Jersey Boys warning parents of the adult content present in the musical. In America, the film version is rated R for "pervasive language".
  • Playwright and poet Henrik Wergeland from Norway once wrote a short stage play on behalf of the Jewish cause. A kid kills a (Jewish) boy with a stone throw, and the (Jewish) mother of the killed boy decides to help the under-age murderer in hiding from the cops, reasoning that he should be educated rather than put to death. Ah yes, the play has been performed by children for forty years, and it has even been stated that it is better when the mother is played by a twelve-year-old girl. A play about murder and atonement, but hey, it's culture.
  • The play She Kills Monsters is about a young woman who is able to communicate with her dead sister through playing her Dungeons & Dragons game. While it might seem appealing to kids through the title alone, the original play is filled with profanity (One character calls another a "fucking fucktard" twice), fighting, and at some points, pot smoking (played for laughs) and sexual themes. The protagonist uses the help of a male gamer to be able to understand the game, and her boyfriend jumps to conclusions and thinks they're having sex. In another scene, the sister is pressured into kissing one of the play's female villains, then is bullied (complete with homophobic slurs) when she attempts to do so. Also, the woman's sister and parents die in a car crash at the beginning of the show, setting up the plot.
    • Subverted by "Young Adventurers Edition" and "Virtual Realms" edition, which take out the overt sexual references and language, and confines the death count to the sister alone.
  • Many reviews of Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson The IMMORTAL World Tour were written by upset parents who believed the "Dangerous" number featuring a bikini-clad acrobat (who used to perform in Cirque's adults-only production Zumanity!) performing a daring pole dance didn't belong in a "family" show. The show was not marketed to families, but because of Cirque's name above the title and the allegedly family-friendly subject matter, oodles of them went anyway. Everyone seems to forget that Michael Jackson's work is a sterling example of What Do You Mean, It's for Kids? — full of adult themes and choreography from Thriller onward, and yet marketed to kids to this day.
  • Quite a number of stand-up comedians who do TV sketch shows or acting performances in Sitcoms do rather coarser humour in their live performances, which sometimes leads to inappropriate audience demographics. One notable example was Bob Saget, who hated when people who saw him in Full House occasionally brought kids to his shows.
    • This also happens to people who act in kids' shows or movies or do tamer works outside of their standup. For example, Patton Oswalt has gained quite the following among kids for starring in Ratatouille. However, some comedians, like the late Kevin Meaney, note  avert this by age-restricting their shows to people over 21 years of age.
  • Mara Wilson's play Sheeple. It's about a kid trying to get high, get laid, and help his Satanist brother talk a friend out of enlisting in The War on Terror. Definitely not intended for the same age bracket as the movies that Mara's known for.
  • Some toddlers have been taken to see Kinky Boots, and a sensory-friendly Broadway series for children with disabilities featured it. It's about people going to a shoe show, and young children, especially girls, like dressing up, so many parents falsely believe the show could appeal to them. It's actually about a drag queen who has to deal with adult problems at that shoe show.
  • Nowadays the Snow Maiden is the granddaughter and companion of Grandfather Frost (the Russian gift-bringer for New Year and Christmas), and practically every film or play involving her is a cheerful sweet fairytale. Unfortunately, not all parents seem to know that the original play that invented the character as we know her and the opera based on said play are really long, practically every character is morally very gray, and both the play and the opera deal with issues like divorce, sexual frigidity, human sacrifice, suicide, and (attempted) rape. Not to mention heaps of symbolism and an extremely depressing ending. Just the thing for a five-year-old.
  • Spring Awakening is a musical that's very popular with teens, and reportedly has been produced by numerous high school drama groups. This despite the adult content in the play, including a key musical number that incorporates a sex scene. A story arc early in the first season of Glee involves the high school-aged students producing Spring Awakening, with concerns about the musical's sex scene being discussed in dialogue, reflecting real-world concerns over its appropriateness for young audiences.note 
  • This occasionally happens to kids' properties (examples include Disney's Broadway shows, The Spongebob Musical and Anastasia) that get adapted into musicals, with parents thinking that just because it's based off a kids' property means that it's suitable for them as well, when they might contain darker themes than their source material. In some cases, the show may be Something Completely Different from the actual kid-oriented work itself, as was the case with Anastasia, which removed all fantasy elements from the film that it was based off. It's also worth noting that Disney says that their Broadway musicals are for people 8 and up and do not allow any kids 4 and under, recommending that parents should take their kids to see Disney on Ice instead. Despite this, there have been multiple reports of kids four and under showing up at the shows, with the biggest offender being Frozen, which contains several scenes where characters nearly curse and even a musical number where Oaken sings with naked dancers (but they are wearing bodysuits and towels).
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame musical is a particularly egregious example since the stage adaptation actually eliminates or greatly reduces most of the family friendly content and reintroduces a lot of elements from the original novel (including the Downer Ending). Cue the angry and bewildered parents wondering where the jokey gargoyles went and why a Disney "family" show has attempted rape and a really downbeat ending.
  • Some people have taken their pre-teens to see Be More Chill, thinking that it's a silly teen musical like like those played on Disney Channel. The show opens with a teenage boy in his underwear waiting for porn to download. And it gets worse from there: the show has multiple references to doing drugs, drinking, sex, self-harm and masturbation, as well as plot elements like a boy using the Squip to have sex with girls and sexy characters including a dog and a baby done in that style.

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