CHICAGO – Chicago Children’s Theatre, Chicago’s largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families, winner of the 2019 National TYA Artistic Innovation Award, has announced its 2019-2020 season: the Chicago debut of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, the holiday season return of The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party, the new “mom & tot” show Wake Up, Brother Bear!, a new Red Kite, Brown Box production for children on the autism spectrum, and the Chicago premiere of Me…Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of a Young Jane Goodall.
Now in its third season in The Station, Chicago Children’s Theatre (CCT) has sharpened its focus on wildly unique theatrical experiences to share with the whole family. Located at 100 S. Racine Avenue in Chicago’s West Loop, The Station is Chicago’s destination for the best plays, musicals, classes and performing arts camps. For parents, caregivers and teachers, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, is a convenient, welcoming community hub, centrally located in the city, with free, onsite parking.
Here are the shows that will make up Chicago Children’s Theatre’s 14th season – A Season to Celebrate – in 2019-2020:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show
Based on the book by Eric Carle
Created by Jonathan Rockefeller
Directed by Jerrell L. Henderson
September 24-October 27, 2019
Opening Day: Saturday, September 28, 2019
Kids are going to love gobbling up the stories of Eric Carle at The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show. Carle’s beloved tale of an insatiable herbivore that munches its way to become a full-fledged butterfly takes wing in this charming new version of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, not seen before in Chicago.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show is a bright, bold spectacle that brings a menagerie of Eric Carle’s most colorful characters from the page to the stage. This production features 75 lovable puppets and faithful renditions of four Eric Carle favorites Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, The Very Lonely Firefly, and the star of the show, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. After the performance, audiences get to meet the puppets and take pictures with the cast.
Eric Carle’s well-known books have captivated readers with his colorful, hand-painted tissue collage illustrations and distinctively simple stories, introducing generations of children to a bigger, brighter world – and to their first reading experiences. The Very Hungry Caterpillar has delighted generations of readers since it was first published in 1969 – selling more than 45 million copies worldwide.
The critically acclaimed The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, created by Jonathan Rockefeller and directed by Jerrell L. Henderson, has been performed around the world, including San Francisco, Dallas, Oregon, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, the United Kingdom, the West End and New York – becoming “the most successful (and longest running) children’s puppet show in New York history.” The New York Times called it “bedazzling,” Newsday gave it “Five Smiles” and Live Theater UK raved “your favorite small person will be changed for the better.”
The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party
Based on stories by Beatrix Potter
Devised by Will Bishop, Lara Carling, Kay Kron, Grace Needlman and Ray Rehberg
Directed by Will Bishop
December 7-29, 2019
Opening Day: Saturday, December 7, 2019
Ages 2 to 6
Chicago-area families, you are cordially invited to dress-up and enjoy a spot of hot cocoa with Chicago Children’s Theatre and our friends Jeremy Fischer, Simpkin the Cat and Peter Rabbit.
Now a popular annual tradition, The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party is the perfect way to kick off your family’s holiday festivities. Three adorable Beatrix Potter favorite tales are unspooled in this mesmerizing, interactive trunk and puppet show, complete with live music. Then, audience members are invited on stage to pull the levers and turn the same cranks that produced such whimsical images of surprise and delight. After photos with the cast, families are whisked to a Victorian-style dining hall, which is adorned with beautiful holiday decor and open tables set with cookies and warm cocoa.
Wake Up, Brother Bear!
Written by Janet Stanford and Kathryn Chase
Directed by Jamie Abelson
January 21-February 16, 2020
Opening Day: Saturday, January 25, 2020
For ages 0 to 6
Take your cubs on a highly interactive journey through the four seasons with a playful pair of bears. See a waterfall melt, meet a butterfly, chase an elusive fish and skate on an icy pond. Full of music and physical activity, Wake Up, Brother Bear! takes kids on an intimate, immersive theatrical experience. Even the littlest theatergoers are made to feel part of the show as they experience live storytelling in a whole new format. And who better than Brother Bear and Sister Bear to help see out the waning months of your family’s winter hibernation?
Red Kite, Brown Box
Conceived and Directed by Jacqueline Russell
February 28-March 21, 2020
Opening Day: Saturday, February 29, 2020
For children on the autism spectrum ages 5 and up, their families and caregivers
What child doesn’t love playing with brown cardboard moving boxes? They’re perfect for climbing and hiding inside, and they can morph into magical forts, homes, vehicles, even robots. With a little creativity, the possibilities are endless.
Red Kite, Brown Box is a live theater experience that leads children on the autism spectrum on an imaginative journey where simple cardboard boxes transform into a magical world full of treasures and joyous play. Conceived and directed by CCT Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell, Red Kite, Brown Box is a transformative educational experience created for young people with autism and sensory sensitivities, their families and caregivers. Before coming to the theater, each child and adult is sent a Social Story that walks families through the experience of attending the show, from arriving at the location to the people they’ll meet, to the adventure itself. A limited number of tickets is sold for each performance to keep the experience focused, intimate and in tune with the particular needs of each child.
Red Kite, Brown Box was devised via Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Red Kite Project in collaboration with Theatre Direct, Toronto in 2013 when Russell was invited there to train actors and staff how to create original performance experiences for children on the autism spectrum. That same year, the Chicago chapter of Autism Speaks honored Russell with its “Hero of the Year Award.”
Me…Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of a Young Jane Goodall
Adapted by Andy Mitton, Patrick McDonnell and Aaron Posner
Music and Lyrics by Andy Mitton
Based on the book Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Directed and Choreographed by Ericka Mac
Musical Direction by Andra Velis Simon
March 31-April 26, 2020
Opening Day: Saturday, April 4, 2020
For ages 6 and up
Before she was a renowned humanitarian, conservationist and animal activist, Dr. Jane Goodall was a little girl with a very special toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. Together, Jane and Jubilee went on outdoor adventures and observed all the miracles of nature around them. As they learned more and more on their expeditions, Jane dreamed of spending the rest of her life living with and helping animals. And one day, she would go on to do just that.
In this highly entertaining new musical adaptation, family audiences join young Jane and her special friend as they learn about the world around them and the importance of protecting all living species. With anecdotes taken directly from Jane Goodall’s autobiography, this adaptation makes this very true story accessible for the young—and young at heart.
Of course, the story of primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall has been told numerous times. The British born naturalist is said to be the leading expert on chimpanzees, and her passion for her work has been a source of admiration and inspiration for years.
Goodall herself even said “The idea of bringing Me…Jane to the stage is very exciting. I love the book and I am sure that the live action will inspire children of all ages to pursue their dreams and to realize if Jane did it, they can do it, too.”
The stage version of Me…Jane debuted in 2017 at the Kennedy Center Family Theater. DC Metro Arts called it “a fantastically entertaining musical, full of colorful characters and songs that will have you dancing in your seat.”
Chicago Children’s Theatre’s new version of Me…Jane boasts an all-star Chicago creative team led by director Ericka Mac. Mac collaborated with Rachel Rockwell as Associate Director/Choreographer on CCT’s world premiere musical Wonderland, Alice’s Rock and Roll Adventure, the U.S. premieres of Ride the Cyclone, and the world premiere of Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical at Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis. Most recently, she was nominated for 2019 Jeff Awards for Direction and Choreography for Bright Star at BoHo Theatre. Music Director is Andra Velis Simon, a CCT favorite whose credits include Last Stop on Market Street, A Year with Frog and Toad and Wonderland, Alice’s Rock and Roll Adventure.
Plan ahead and save with a Chicago Children’s Theatre Subscription
Chicago Children’s Theatre 2019-20 Subscription Packages go on sale Saturday, May 4 at 8 a.m. Early bird pricing is $45 for three shows. That’s over 50% off single ticket prices. Subscribers can also enjoy 15$ off education programming including classes and camps. Package prices increase to $60 on July 1, and increase to $80 on August 1. Visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call Chicago Children’s Theatre Guest Services, (312) 374-8835, to subscribe. There is a one-time $15 processing fee for all subscription packages. Single tickets will go on sale July 1. Single tickets will range from $25-$55.
CCT offers discounted group rates for schools, playgroups, birthday parties and scouting groups. Email [email protected] or call (312) 374-8835 to learn more.
In addition, Chicago Children’s Theatre continues to deepen its commitment to serving all Chicago children by expanding its array of services for all patrons with disabilities. Each 2019-20 production at The Station will include an Access Weekend, during which all performances are presented with access services for children on the autism spectrum, children who are blind or have low vision, or children who are deaf or hard of hearing. For Access Weekend dates and more information, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org/access.
CCT also offers financial aid and scholarships for students who are in need for classes and camps. Learn more at chicagochildrenstheatre.org/education.
About Chicago Children’s Theatre
Led by Founding Artistic Director, Jacqueline Russell, Chicago Children’s Theatre was founded in 2005 with a big idea: Chicago is the greatest theater city in the world, and it deserves a great children’s theater. Nearly 15 years later, CCT is Chicago’s largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families, and has established a national reputation for the production of first-rate children’s theater, with professional writing, performing, and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise.
Chicago Children’s Theatre has produced 20 world premieres in the last 14 years including The Selfish Giant, The Hundred Dresses, Jackie and Me, The Houdini Box, Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, Leo Lionni’s Frederick, Wonderland, Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure, Jabari Dreams of Freedom, The Year I Didn’t Go To School: A Homemade Circus, Manual Cinema’s Magic City, My Wonderful Birthday Suit!, Last Stop on Market Street, X Marks the Spot, The World Inside Me (with New York’s Spellbound Theatre) and The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963. These productions enjoyed successful inaugural runs in Chicago, many followed by productions at theaters across the U.S.
Chicago Children’s Theatre has garnered six NEA Art Works grants, supporting the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence. In 2017, CCT became the first theater for young audiences in the U.S. to win a National Theatre Award from the American Theatre Wing, creators of the Tony Awards. Most recently, Chicago Children’s Theatre received the prestigious TYA USA 2019 National Artistic Innovation Award.
In January 2017, the company celebrated the opening of its new, permanent home, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, located at 100 S. Racine Avenue in Chicago’s West Loop community. The building, formerly the Chicago Police Station for the 12th District, was repurposed into a beautiful, LEED Gold-certified, mixed-use performing arts, education and community engagement facility that now welcomes all Chicago families. CCT also continues to grow its education programs, offering classes, workshops, winter and spring break camps, and summer camps for ages 0 to 13. CCT offers free and reduced tickets to more than 5,000 low-income students each season in partnership with Chicago Public Schools.
In addition to leading Chicago Children’s Theatre’s new play development, main stage, and education programs, Jacqueline Russell is the creator of the Red Kite Project, a multi-sensory interactive theatre program tailored specifically to children with special needs. Recently, Russell created and directed an innovative production, X Marks the Spot, a multi-sensory experience inspired by her work with children with visual impairments. In 2010, she was appointed by the U.S. State Department to serve as Cultural Envoy to Canada, was awarded the 2013 “Hero of the Year Award” from the Chicago chapter of Autism Speaks, and was recently honored as one of 20 women who have shaped arts and culture in Chicago on the Kerry James Marshall mural at the Chicago Culture Center.
Chicago Children’s Theatre is led by Co-Founders, Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, with Board President Eric Neveux. For more, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org.