CHICAGO, May 10, 2018 – Chicago Children’s Theatre (chicagochildrenstheatre.org), the largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to families in Chicago, has announced its 2018-19 season.
Now fully settled in its new home, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, 100 S. Racine Ave. in Chicago’s West Loop, the company is sharpening its focus on wildly unique theatrical experiences to share with the whole family, and expanding its class and camp offerings to a year-round status, a major achievement for the company, also announced today.
For kids, that means Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, is their new #1 destination for the best plays, musicals, theater classes and performing arts camps anywhere in the city. For parents, caregivers and teachers, a major bonus is The Station is a welcoming community hub, centrally located in the city, with free, convenient onsite parking.
Here are the shows that will make up CCT’s lucky thirteenth season, with performances for all ages, from all walks of life, staged in The Station’s 149-seat Pritzker Family Studio Theatre:
Leo Lionnni’s Frederick
Based on the book by Leo Lionni
Directed and choreographed by Tommy Rapley
Adapted for the stage by Suzanne Miller
Songs by Sarah Durkee and Paul Jacobs
October 9-November 12, 2018
First up next fall is Leo Lionni’s Frederick, a musical based on beloved children’s author Leo Lionni’s Caldecott Award-winning book about Frederick the mouse.
While other mice are working hard gathering food for the winter, Frederick is daydreaming the summer away. But when dreary weather comes, it is Frederick who has stored up something special to help his companions survive the long cold winter.
Lionni’s classic early reading book is much-loved for encouraging the idea that there is a place for all of us in this world and celebrating the role of artists in society. Tommy Rapley, a director, choreographer and company member with The House Theatre of Chicago, and choreographer of CCT hits The Hundred Dresses and A Year with Frog and Toad, will make his Chicago Children’s Theatre directorial debut with a raucous, fleet footed and playful Frederick.
Leo Lionni’s Frederick, a Chicago Children’s Theatre world premiere in 2014, was adapted for the stage by Suzanne Miller. It features a spirited folk and rock blues music score by Sarah Durkee and Paul Jacobs, performed live, on-stage by a talented cast of six actor-musicians.
The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party
Devised and directed by Will Bishop
Designed by Grace Needlman
December 8-24, 2018
Ages 2 to 6
The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party enjoyed a nearly sold out run last holiday season, its first year at Chicago Children’s Theatre’s new home.
Chicago families have a new holiday tradition to look forward to again this year because The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party is back, including two new stories. Children of all ages are cordially invited to dress up and enjoy a spot of hot cocoa with CCT’s favorite friends from the English Lake District. Next, they’ll spend an enchanting hour with Peter Rabbit and other beloved Potter puppet characters as they delight audiences in this highly interactive trunk and puppet show.
Following the performance, children and parents are invited to the stage to pull levers and turn cranks, revealing images that surprise and delight. Then, the tea party continues after the show, when guests exit to find the lobby transformed into a Victorian-style dining hall where they will enjoy cocoa and cookies, beautiful holiday decor, and the rare opportunity to meet and pose for photos with the cast.
X-Marks The Spot: An Extra Sensory Experience
A world premiere devised and directed by Jacqueline Russell
January 22-March 3, 2019
Ages 8 and up
Listen! Smell! Touch! X-Marks The Spot – presented with sounds and voices, and with touchable and scented props – is a show to excite your senses. A low-light setting and a gentle invitation to use blindfolds encourages audience members not to rely on their sense of sight, but instead to tune in to their other four senses to experience EST, or “Extra Sensory Theatre.” This EST production aims to both create theater for the blind community, and give children and families insight into what it is like to encounter the world as a person who is blind or has low vision (LV).
Inspired by Evelyn Nesbit’s Victorian children’s novel Five Children & It, X-Marks The Spot tells the clever and funny story of a family of young adventurers who discover a mischievous wishing fairy in the sand—only to learn the old adage, “be careful what you wish for.”
This all-new work, inspired by people who are blind or have low vision, but welcoming of all audiences, follows up on Chicago Children’s Theatre Co-Founder and Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell’s successful Red Kite productions for children with autism, and is informed by her recent residency with LV students at CPS’s Otis Elementary School.
X-Marks The Spot: An Extra Sensory Experience is funded in part by the NEA Arts Work program.
The World Inside of Me
A world premiere co-production with Spellbound Theatre
Directed by Lauren Jost
Music by Jono Walderman
February 9-March 10, 2019
The World Inside of Me is a new form of educational arts experience designed specifically for pre-K youth. This world premiere production is part art and part science, showcasing the creative abilities of our youngest children. The interactive experience celebrates the human body, following human development from pre-natal through age five (the age span of the participants). Artists from New York’s Spellbound Theatre will lead the audience through a series of interactive vignettes that engage the body and senses, delighting the imaginations of participants.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963
A world premiere
Based on the book The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963
by Christopher Paul Curtis
Adapted by Cheryl L. West
Directed by Wardell Julius Clark
March 26-April 28, 2019
Ages 9 and up
Rounding out its 2018-2019 season, Chicago Children’s Theatre, in a co-commission with Seattle Children’s Theatre and Launch Pad at the University of California-Santa Barbara, will open a brand new adaptation of acclaimed author Christopher Paul Curtis’ groundbreaking, timeless work, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963.
When Kenny’s older brother starts getting into too much trouble in Michigan, it’s decided that he needs to pay a visit to Grandma Sands in Birmingham, Alabama to straighten him out. The whole family – Momma, Dad, Byron, Kenny and Joetta – sets out on a wild cross-country journey in the family car, the “Brown Bomber.” When they make it to Birmingham, however, they find much more than they bargained for. The powerful story reminds us that during times of crisis, hope reveals itself in the forms of family and friendships; learning, growing, and evolving.
Internationally acclaimed playwright Cheryl L. West returns to adapt the work for CCT’s stage after penning the world premiere musical adaptation of Last Stop on Market Street.
Wardell Julius Clark makes his directing debut at CCT with Watsons. Clark hails from Fairfield, Alabama, just outside of Birmingham, and his family has personal ties with families affected by the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. He has performed on many Chicago stages including Windy City Playhouse, Victory Gardens, Court and Congo Square. He is a Teaching Artist with TimeLine Theatre’s Living History program and an Associate Artist with the Black Lives, Black Words theater collective.
Red Kite Green Mountain
A Chicago premiere
Conceived by Jacqueline Russell with the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington, VT
Designed by Will Bishop
Red Kite, Green Mountain is an interactive, immersive theatrical production designed for young people with autism and sensory sensitivities and their families.
With the flora and fauna of the Green Mountain State of Vermont as its inspiration, audiences explore nature while experiencing “impressionistic and fantastical” animal puppetry according to designer and puppeteer Will Bishop. On their theatrical journey, audiences are introduced to a Mountain Music Man and band of handcrafted, interactive, larger-than-life, yet approachable puppets including foxes, hares, an owl and caterpillars.
Red Kite, Green Mountain is the seventh installment in CCT’s Red Kite Adventure series which has played locally and toured nationally since 2008. This production is s a co-commission with the Flynn Center for Performing Arts in Burlington, Vermont, where CCT has returned to the delight of special educators and families affected by autism in the New England region for the past three years.
Plan ahead and save with a Chicago Children’s Theatre subscription
A variety of Chicago Children’s Theatre 2018-19 Subscription Packages are on sale now at chicagochildrenstheatre.org.
Younger Audience Packages, for ages seven and under, include Leo Lionni’s Frederick, The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party and The World Inside of Me.
Older Audience Packages, recommended for ages seven and above, include Leo Lionni’s Frederick, X-Marks The Spot: An Extra Sensory Experience and The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963.
Book early and save with Early Bird Packages, available through May 25 for only $60. That’s up to 50% off single ticket prices. On May 26, package prices will increase to $75 and on July 9 to $90.
Benefits of subscription packages include flexible ticketing exchange and discounts on CCT classes and camps. To subscribe, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call Chicago Children’s Theatre Guest Services, (312) 374-8835.
CCT offers deeply discounted group rates for schools, playgroups, birthday parties and scouting groups. CPS schools may be eligible for financial assistance. 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 2018-19 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.
Single tickets to CCT productions will range from $20 to $45, and will go on sale at the end of the summer.
Education at The Station to expand to year-round programming
In addition to presenting live shows in the intimate 149-seat Pritzker Family Studio Theatre, Frank Maugeri, Community Programs Artistic Director, continues to grow Chicago Children’s Theatre’s education and community programs, which are gaining traction by emphasizing student authorship, youth empowerment and community leadership that can only be found at The Station.
Starting in the fall, Chicago Children’s Theatre will begin offering eight-week, twelve-week courses and, for the first time, four week mini-sessions. This expansion effectively creates year-round education programming at The Station, with an active schedule with little or no breaks. The company will continue to offer winter and spring break camps, fun for children and critical for working parents, as well as a full slate of summer camp offerings as well as Saturday morning classes through summer of 2019.
Returning fall class favorites will include Hip Hop for Tots taught by Yuri “The Human Beat Box” Lane, Circus and Aerial Arts taught by Actors Gymnasium, Intro to Piven Theatre Workshop, Circus and Aerial Arts with Actors Gymnasium, Improv with The Second City, Wiggleworms with Old Town School of Folk Music, Bubble Jams, Taking the Stage and more. The full roster of fall classes will be announced this summer. Keep an eye on chicagochildrenstheatre.org/education for more information and to enroll.
Note: Registration is still open but spots are already filling quickly for five weeks of diverse, unique, musical, and educational Adventure Camps, each with a different theme, targeting kids ages 3-1/2 to 10. Each week’s camp culminates in a final performance for family and friends in The Station’s Pritzker Theatre and uses Chicago Children’s Theatre’s resources to include all of the design, lighting and costume elements from the company’s professional mainstage shows.
In addition to full-day camps, CCT’s summer education offerings include Play Time half-day camps for little ones ages 3-1/2 to 5, two all-new, two-day Acting for the Camera and Acting with Green Screen workshops for kids 6 to 10, a week long GRRL Power camp, open to girls only, ages 9 to 13, in partnership with the Viola Project, and Camp Red Kite, a three-week summer arts camp for young people on the autism spectrum.
Visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org/summercamp, email [email protected], or call CCT’s Guest Services,
(312) 374-8835, to register your child for one camp or many.
About Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station
Chicago Children’s Theatre has transformed the former 12th District Police Station, located in the heart of Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood at 100 S. Racine Avenue, into its first permanent home. The new Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, celebrated its grand opening in January 2017, and now serves as a beautiful, mixed-use performing arts, education and community engagement facility that welcomes all Chicago families.
Since its launch in 2005, CCT has cemented its reputation as the city’s largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families. The company evolved out of Chicago’s need for high-quality, professional children’s programming to match the quality and significance of powerhouses such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre and Lookingglass Theatre.
CCT has always believed children should be treated as the sophisticated audiences that they are, showcasing high profile and award-winning talent, inventive production values and compelling stories that challenge, educate and entertain. CCT also honors a strong commitment to low-income families and children with special needs. In partnership with Chicago Public Schools, the company offers free tickets to more than 5,000 Chicago-area low-income students each season.
CCT has built its national reputation due to its focus on new work, producing 17 world premieres in the last 12 years including The Selfish Giant, The Hundred Dresses, Jackie and Me, Dot and Ziggy, The Houdini Box, The Elephant and The Whale (in association with Redmoon), Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, Leo Lionni’s Frederick, Wonderland, Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure, A Snowy Day with Beatrix Potter, Jabari Dreams of Freedom, Moonshot: A Race to Space, The Year I Didn’t Go To School: A Homemade Circus, My Wonderful Birthday Suit!, An Epic Tale of Scale and Last Stop on Market Street. These enjoyed successful inaugural runs in Chicago, many followed by productions at theaters across the U.S.
In 2017, Chicago Children’s Theatre became the first theater for young audiences in the nation to win a National Theatre Award from the American Theatre Wing, creators of the Tony Awards.
Led by Co-Founders, Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, Board President Eric Neveux and Community Programs Artistic Director Frank Maugeri, Chicago Children’s Theatre is supported by a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy and business.
Chicago Children’s Theatre’s season is sponsored in part by Goldman Sachs Gives and ComEd. For more information, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org.