CHICAGO – Starting in January, what was the former 12th District police station in Chicago’s West Loop will reopen as a newly transformed, centrally located, inclusive destination for Chicago children to free their minds, explore their creativity and become the artists of the future.
Registration is now open for a rich, diverse roster of live performing arts classes to be offered at the new home of Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, 100 S. Racine Avenue. Be among the first to sign your child up at chicagochildrenstheatre.com/education for courses in theater, storytelling, film making, craft, modern movement, hip hop, craft, aerial circus arts and vocal instruction at Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station. Classes begin Monday, February 6. The first eight-week session runs through April 1.
With five brand new classrooms devoted to performing arts instruction, it’s clear education and community engagement are the heart and soul of Chicago Children’s Theatre’s first-ever permanent home.
What’s more, CCT will finally have its own dedicated, year-round space at The Station for Red Kite programming for children with autism. This spring, children on the autism spectrum will participate in a brand new Red Kite Adventure, a multi-sensory theatrical experience tailored to the needs and whims unique to each child who attends. The Station will also be the new home of Camp Red Kite, the only summer arts camp of its kind in Chicago for children on the autism spectrum.
Frank Maugeri, Community Programs Artistic Director, Chicago Children’s Theatre, leads all curricula, teaching artists and community partnerships at The Station.
“This former police station will now be used to amplify hope, explore personal identity and promote creative expression,” said Maugeri. “Our intention is that The Station’s educational programming be as diverse as our city and as unique as its children.”
Under his guidance, Chicago Children’s Theatre has assembled a deep roster of classes for toddlers to teens, plus innovative camps, dynamic family experiences and public participatory opportunities, all staffed by Chicago’s finest teaching artists.
Weekday morning courses target the still-at-home, stroller set, with “Baby Stages” classes for parents and children ages 0 to 3 to enjoy together. These include:
Baby Boogie, a special dance party for babies to practice fine motor skills and experience delightful songs with their parent or caregiver.
Teeny Tales, a class full of fairy tales, myths and legends told by master storytellers, with magical elements like puppets and more to bring the stories to life.
Mr. Nick’s Planet of Song, where tots and their caregivers join in on the jams by singing, strumming and drumming away, exploring songs from around the globe and beyond with noted Chicago musical theater artist Nicholas Davio.
Morning “Growing Stage” classes for ages 3 to 5 include:
Hip Hop for Tots, taught by Chicago’s own Yuri “The Human Beatbox” Lane, in which children interact with stories, riddles and fairytales through beatboxing: making sounds through voice and body.
Campfire Songs, where children gather around and enjoy the fun of sing-alongs and classic campfire stories.
Kid Craft, an art class designed to introduce small children to the magical world of making, painting and play.
In addition, Koga – Kid Yoga, is an all-ages class offered Wednesday and Friday over the lunch hour, from 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. Enjoy the experience of mindfulness and stretching with your child in this class focusing on motor-skill development, body awareness and interactive play between parent (or caregiver) and child.
The Station is sure to be a top new destination for older kids ages 6 through 14 on afternoons after school and weekends as well. “Younger Stages” classes for ages 6 to 9 and “Later Stages” classes for ages 10 to 14 include:
Circus & Aerial Arts, an energetic introduction to circus and aerial arts presented with Evanston’s acclaimed Actors Gymnasium, including basic and intermediate instruction in silks, trapeze and lyra.
West Loop Story, a celebratory new exploration of the Broadway classic West Side Story in partnership with the local youth dance company Move Me Soul, in which children will expand their musical theater singing and dance skills, concluding with a showcase presentation for parents and caregivers.
Taking the Stage, for young performers interested in learning how to bravely take the stage by performing text, exploring movement and using objects to illustrate stories.
MOVE IT! MOVE IT!, for kids who want to bust the latest dance moves in this fun, all-inclusive dance party.
S.T.E.A.M TV, a hands-on multimedia experience guided by experienced filmmakers in which children will produce their own epic videos, in a class emphasizing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) principles, concluding with a red carpet premiere of the shows.
Saturday mornings at The Station promise to be busy as well, with Baby Boogie, Taking the Stage and Circus & Aerial Arts courses, along with even more, all-ages special educational events such as:
Homemade Plays, the first Saturday of each month. With cardboard, tape and imagination, participants will collaborate to cut, fold, construct, design and devise completely original 3-5 minute plays. Parents are encouraged to join the fun.
Open Build, the second Saturday of each month. Sew a costume, create a prop, build a set and get your hands dirty as a vital part of the CCT community. Work alongside family members, neighbors and professional artists to create scenery for professional productions staged at The Station.
Master Classes, the third Saturday of each month. During the run of select CCT productions, artists from the show will share their knowledge and experience in a one-time-only workshop.
In addition to being a lot of fun, Chicago Children’s Theatre’s classes help kids build confidence, overcome fears, solve problems, boost creativity, think fast on their feet, be better team players and, ultimately, gain a competitive edge.
The first eight-week class session at The Station runs February 6-April 1. Go to chicagochildrenstheatre.com/education for prices, times, to learn more about CCT’s teacher community, and to register online. Scholarship and tuition assistance is available.
Plan ahead: Registration for spring break and summer camps is already open.
In addition to classes, The Station will also be home to the Make a Scene Camp over CPS spring break, April 10-14, 2017. Kids ages 5 to 14 will work together to find a story they want to tell, conceive a set, rehearse and prepare to perform their workshop presentations at the end of the week.
Smart moms and dads know it’s not too early to make summer camp plans for kids. In response, Chicago Children’s Theatre will offer six different intensive and immersive camps this summer, each offering an amazing opportunity to bring their imagination to life while creating innovative theater arts experiences throughout the Chicago community.
CCT Summer Camps run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with before and after care included to help working parents, starting at 8:30 a.m. through final pick up at 5:30 p.m. Most camps group sections by age range: Section 1 (ages 3 to 5), Section 2 (ages 6 to 9) and Section 3 (ages 10 to 14).
Tuition is $300 per week for ages 3 to 5, and $475 per week for most other camps. Some scholarship assistance is available. Registration is already open and complete details about CCT Summer Camps are now posted at
The six different CCT Summer Camp sessions, June 26-August 25, are:
Musical Theater Camp
June 26 – June 30 (week one); July 3-July 7 (week two)
A fun introduction to musical theatre style vocal and dance training for your budding thespian culminating in a “revue” style performance for parents and caregivers at the end of each week.
Make a Show Intensive
July 10-July 21 (two weeks)
An immersive, two-week camp where your child creates a show top to bottom, concluding with a final performance of a miniature musical.
Parade and Performance Camp
July 24-July 28 (week one); July 31-August 4 (week two)
Campers explore, create, and spread joy through parade and performance in this hands-on camp. Campers craft objects and learn song and dance that help represent their delight in a final parade-style performance through the West Loop.
Camp Red Kite
August 7-25 (three weeks, 8:30 am to 12:30 pm daily)
A summer arts camp tailored specifically to the unique interests and needs of children on the autism spectrum. The program is led by a team of artists, administrators, and special education teachers dedicated to creating a safe, welcoming, and comfortable environment for children. Campers share arts experiences that encourages self-expression, social engagement, creative exploration, and above all, fun. Note: Camp Red Kite is $825 for the full three-week engagement.
Young Filmmakers Camp
August 7-11 (one week)
Young filmmakers have the opportunity to channel their inner Spielberg conceiving, writing, storyboarding, and filming mini-movies in small groups, exploring technique and collaborative storytelling. Ages 9 to 14 only.
Improv & Comedy Camp
August 21-25 (one week)
Campers are introduced to improvisation games, stock characters, and sketch comedy – a great way for children to build confidence before heading back to school. Ages 9 to 14 only.
“After a decade of staging awe-inducing productions and educational programs at museums, theaters and other venues throughout the city and suburbs, Chicago Children’s Theatre is beginning a new chapter,” said Jacqueline Russell, Co-Founder and Artistic Director.”At last we are moving into a space of our own, where we will create a centrally located, dynamic new family destination for all of Chicago’s children and families, regardless of their circumstances or ability to pay.”
Set to open in late January, the adaptive reuse of the former police station at 100 S. Racine, aka The Station, is Phase One of what will eventually be the new, expanded footprint for Chicago Children’s Theatre. Phase Two will be completed in 2020, and will boast an all-new addition to the building, anchored by a second, 299-seat theater for the company’s mainstage programming.
Chicago Children’s Theatre is calling its new home The Station in homage to its history as a former police station, and to underscore the building’s focus on education and community engagement. In addition to spaces devoted to education, The Station boasts a lobby with box office and concessions, and Chicago’s newest theater space, the flexible, 149-seat Pritzker Family Studio Theatre.
Magic City, created by Chicago’s internationally acclaimed shadow puppet theater Manual Cinema, will inaugurate CCT’s new studio theater, January 27-February 19, 2017. Loosely based on the 1910 novel by Edith Nesbit about a girl who builds a miniature city that comes to life in her attic, Manual Cinema’s new adaptation will update the story for a contemporary audience using overhead projectors, paper shadow puppets, live actors in silhouette, miniature toy theater and live musical accompaniment.
On stage in the spring in the Pritzker Family Studio Theatre is a new staging of Pinocchio, presented with Chicago’s Neverbird Project. This production, which originated at Chicago’s Bell Elementary School in 2016, will feature young hearing and Deaf actors in a signed and voice performance of this all-new take on the classic fairy tale. Performances are April 20-May 7.
Wheeler Kearns Architects, a Chicago firm led by Larry Kearns, principal, has been collaborating with associate architect Melissa Neel, Working Group One Architects, to create a new facility for Chicago Children’s Theatre that emphasizes accessibility and transparency to the community. Theater planning is by Schuler Shook. Pepper Construction is the general contractor.
While Chicago Children’s Theatre is offering courses, camps, family experiences and more inside The Station, the company’s 2016-17 mainstage productions will continue to be presented at CCT’s current performance home, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago.