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'Mary Poppins,' 'Annie' and 'Pippin' at Long Island theaters

The curtain is going up on three musicals aimed at different age groups.

Newsday got a behind-the-scenes look on Wednesday at the rehearsal of 'Pippin,' premiering on Saturday at the CM Performing Arts Center ion Oakdale.  (Credit: Randee Daddona)

As someone who works in Long Island theater, it’s only natural that Bruce Grossman brought up his children on the lullabies of Broadway.

“There’s nothing more educational than going to see live theater,” says Grossman, the owner and artistic director of Cultural Arts Playhouse in Syosset. Not only were his children taken to shows, but they also perform in regional theater. “For a young person, it’s opening up their mind to possibilities.”

For many parents like Grossman, sharing their love of musical theater with their children is a rite of passage. If you want to give your youngsters or teens their first taste of live theater, here are three musicals that are sure to go down like a spoonful of sugar.

“Annie”

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sunday, through Feb. 10 at Cultural Arts Playhouse, 170 Michael Dr., Syosset

INFO $20-$27; 516-694-3330, culturalartsplayhouse.com 

AGES 4 and up

WHY KIDS WILL LIKE IT The Tony Award-winning musical about a red-haired orphan with the indomitable spirit and booming voice has been winning kids’ hearts since its 1977 Broadway debut.

Set during the 1930s, “Annie” even offers a little history lesson by giving youngsters a peek into life in America during the Great Depression. The youngest cast member is 6, says Grossman, who plays adoptive father Daddy Warbucks.

Youngsters probably won’t fidget because the big numbers start right away. After Annie’s heartrending, “Maybe,” she and her fellow orphans belt out the show-stopping “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” as they scrub the floor of evil Miss Hannigan’s New York City orphanage. If that’s your kid’s karaoke cue, no worries. Says Grossman: “Singing along isn’t discouraged.”

“Mary Poppins”

WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m. Saturdays (and Jan. 21) and noon Sundays through Jan. 27 at The Showplace at the Bellmore Movies, 222 Pettit Ave., Bellmore

INFO $12; 516-599-6870, plazatheatrical.com 

AGES 4 and older

WHY KIDS WILL LIKE IT “The show has great music, and it is so fast-paced, so colorful, it will hold the attention of even our youngest audience members,” says Kevin Harrington, a producer for Plaza Theatrical Productions who also directs this stage version of the popular 1964 Disney hit starring Julie Andrews.

Plaza even recreates some of the movie’s memorable special effects. Just as Andrews did, Emma Harrington, who plays Poppins, will pull a bird cage and a coat tree out of her magic carpet bag.

In the spirit of interactive theater, the audience is “encouraged to clap and sing along” to favorite tunes including “A Spoonful of Sugar,” the tongue-twisting “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and the Oscar-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”

After the show, the costumed call will meet and greet their young fans, sign autographs and pose for photos.

“Pippin”

WHEN | WHERE 2 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday and 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, through Feb. 2 at the Noel S. Ruiz Theatre at CM Performing Arts Center, 931 Montauk Hwy., Oakdale

INFO $18-$42; 631-218-2810, cmpac.com 

AGE GROUP 14 and up

WHY TEENS WILL LIKE IT CM’s production is based on the more lighthearted 2013 revival of the 1972 Stephen Schwartz-Bob Fosse Tony Award winner, says director-choreographer Ashley Nicastro of Oceanside. The set is built to resemble the interior of a circus tent, replete with a lion cage. Cirque du Soleil-inspired moves will be performed by high school gymnasts Maggie Overbaugh and Liam Summers, and contortionist Gia Keddy, all from Connetquot. The cast also includes an acrobat, Christian Kalinowski of Farmingdale. Parents should be aware that “Pippin” does contain some sexual innuendo and violence that make it more appropriate for mature teens. The message of “Pippin,” which is set during the reign of Charlemagne, is one that is bound to resonate with them. The protagonist, a young prince just out of school, is trying to find himself, as he sings in one of the show’s hits, “Corner of the Sky.” Pippin “ultimately finds out that the most extraordinary things in his life is simply being with someone who loves him,” Nicastro says.

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