Chicago – Internationally acclaimed children’s author Christopher Paul Curtis will pay a return visit to Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave. in Chicago’s West Loop, on Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14, for public book signings and to celebrate CCT’s world premiere adaptation of his Newbery Medal-winning book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963.
Weekend performances of The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 are at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Book signings with Curtis will start at 3:15 pm both days, immediately following the afternoon matinees.
Based on Curtis’s groundbreaking, award-winning young adult novel, Chicago Children’s Theatre’s new production of The Watsons Go To Birmingham-1963 follows the same fun-loving, African-American family of five from Flint, Michigan. When oldest son Byron starts getting into trouble, the Watson family decides to take him down south so that Grandma Sands can “set him straight.” Mama, Daddy, Byron, Kenny and Joetta pile into the family car, the “Brown Bomber,” and set off on an adventure-filled road trip to Birmingham, Alabama. When they arrive, Bryon’s little brother Kenny finds more than he bargained for, a community simmering with tension during the height of the civil rights movement. Curtis’s powerful story reminds us that during times of crisis, hope reveals itself in the forms of family, friendships, learning, growing and evolving.
Single tickets to The Watsons Go to Birmingham are $25-$41.The Watsons Go To Birmingham-1963 is appropriate for children 9 years old and up, yet sophisticated enough for adults. Visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call Chicago Children’s Theatre Guest Services, (312) 374-8835, for single tickets, information on school performances and group rates.
Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, is located at 100 S. Racine Ave. in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood. The Station is minutes from I-90, I-290, downtown and Ashland Avenue. Free onsite parking is available on the south side of the building, enter from Racine Ave. Nearby street parking is typically available on weekends, or look for the Impark parking lot, 1301 W. Madison St.
Curtis and Chicago Children’s Theatre have a long and happy history of bringing his books to the stage. The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 marks the third novel he has written that Chicago Children’s Theatre has brought to the stage. Previous productions include Bud, Not Buddy in 2013 and Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money in 2014. Still, since Chicago Children’s Theatre’s founding, The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 has remained the #1 new play request from one of the company’s most important audiences – Chicago teachers.
Chicago director Wardell Julius Clark, one of Chicago’s most acclaimed young directors, makes his CCT directing debut with The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963. Internationally admired playwright Cheryl L. West penned this fresh new adaptation of Curtis’s acclaimed novel, which features original music composed by Paris Ray Dozier.
Public performances of The Watsons Go to Birminingham-1963 start March 30 and run through April 28: Saturdays and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Exception: No shows Easter Sunday, April 21.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 was co-commissioned by Seattle Children’s Theatre in Seattle, WA (Courtney Sale, Artistic Director), Chicago Children’s Theatre in Chicago, IL, (Jacqueline Russell, Artistic Director) and the LAUNCH PAD at University of California, Santa Barbara – Department of Theater and Dance in Santa Barbara, CA in 2017 (Risa Brainin, Artistic Director).
About the author
Christopher Paul Curtis was born and reared in Flint, Michigan. After high school graduation, he worked on the assembly line of the Fisher Body Plant/Flint Plant No. 1 and graduated from the Flint branch of the University of Michigan. His debut book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, was one of the most highly acclaimed first novels for young readers in recent years, receiving a Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book citation in 1996. It was also adapted into a TV movie that premiered on the Hallmark Channel in 2013. His novel Bud, Not Buddy, winner of the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award in 2000, was presented on stage in 2013 by Chicago Children’s Theatre. In 2014, Chicago Children’s Theatre followed up with a highly successful world premiere musical based on Curtis’s novel Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money. His other books include Bucking the Sarge, Elijah of Buxton (Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction), Mr. Chickee’s Messy Mission, The Mighty Miss Malone, The Madman of Piney Woods, and his newest release, The Journey of Little Charlie. Curtis currently lives in Detroit, Michigan and in his free time still enjoys reading, playing basketball and collecting music. For more, visit nobodybutcurtis.com.
About Chicago Children’s Theatre
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 caliber and significance of powerhouses such as Steppenwolf, Goodman and Lookingglass. 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.
Chicago Children’s Theatre is led by Co-Founders, Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, with Board President Eric Neveux. The company 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, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org.