Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Fond Farewell To Frog & Toad and Welcome Mr. Chickee's Funny Money at Chicago Childrens Theatre #MrChickee

It seems like only yesterday that this charming amphibian buddy production was opening!   A year with Frog & Toad will always hold a special place in our hearts as it was the first CCT production we ever saw, waaaaaay back in the day when my tweens were toddlers.   And they still loved the remount at ages 10 & 12.   That's saying something!   Please tell me it won't be 8 more years till we get to see this charming tale told again on the CCT stage.   Even if it is, I WILL be there to see it again with my college kids!   This show is timeless fun for "kids" of all ages.

Watching my kids grow up with the stellar Chicago theatre scene has made my soul melt.   Of course their take on show has grown from their uber adorable young years where songs and lines and characters from shows made it into their free play and made me laugh.   Now they're recognizing actors across different productions and offering solid critiques on shows, set design and plots.   Joy!   

Then there's the inimitable Ada Grey, kid critic.   We run into this articulate, creative 9 year old EVERYWHERE.   We recently ran into her at The House Theatre's Nutcracker, The Chicago Children's Film Festival and Once. 

She also acts & was the compelling creepy little girl in The Stag King at The House Theatre.   When we recently saw her at The Oriental Theatre, I told her that her intense Stag King performance with her real life dad completely creeped me out, and that I meant that as the highest compliment. Check out her awesome theatre review blog here.   She's been critiquing shows since she was 4!   

Here's my daughter, Sage (10) and Ada (9) hangin' out at the after party on the opening night of Frog & Toad.

Fun Memories:  A year with Frog & Toad snacks n crafts at the opening night after party.

Frog and Toad themed crafts brought out the kids' creative side and tasty treats made the night complete.

We'll be thinking about Frog & Toad's catchy eating cookies number any time we indulge.

A big thumbs up for Chicago Childrens Theatre!   

We'll leave you with this clip from A year with Frog & Toad, just for fun.  Hope you got to go!

We'll miss you wacky amphibians!

(from left) Frog (Karl Hamilton) and Toad (Mark David Kaplan) go on a wild sledding adventure in Chicago Children’s Theatre’s A Year with Frog and Toad.

A Year with Frog and Toad is the Tony-nominated musical based on Arnold Lobel’s beloved Frog and Toad books. Lobel’s well-loved animal characters jump from the page to the stage in this whimsical musical that follows two best friends – the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad – through four, fun-filled seasons. Part vaudeville, part make believe, all charm, A Year with Frog and Toad tells the story of a friendship that endures, weathering all seasons.

Next Up:
Mr. Chickee's Funny Money


Ticket are NOW on sale.

Christopher Paul Curtis, author of the book Mr. Chickee's Funny Money

We met the author, Christopher Paul Curtis (pictured above), and bought the book last year at CCT during their production of Bud, Not Buddy, based on another of his books.  We dig the story and can't wait to see it spring to life on stage in CCT's world premiere!

(from left) Motown legend Lamont Dozier, writer/lyricist of 
Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, and director Derrick Sanders

Chicago Children's Theatre is tuning up to present the world premiere of Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, an all-new, rhythm and blues family musical based on the book by Christopher Paul Curtis, featuring music and lyrics by Motown legend Lamont Dozier and his son, co-music writer/lyricist Paris Dozier, book by David Ingber, directed by Derrick Sanders, musical supervision by Brian Usifer

Performances are January 18 - March 2, 2014 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, Chicago. 

Single tickets to Mr. Chickee's Funny Money are on sale now, and start at $25. To purchase, visit or call (872) 222-9555. For information on discounted group rates for schools, playgroups, birthday parties and scouting organizations, visit or call (773) 327-3778Mr. Chickee's Funny Money is recommended for ages 6 and up. 
Mr. Chickee's Funny Money is adapted from the best-selling young adult book by Christopher Paul Curtis, who also penned Bud, Not Buddy, the Newbery Award-winning book which spawned Chicago Children's Theatre's 2013 smash hit, world premiere play Bud, Not Buddy
CCT's newest family musical follows the misadventures of 9-year-old Steven, a self-proclaimed spy and president of the "Flint Future Detectives Club." At the heart of this whimsical story is a highly intelligent, out-of-the-box thinker, and entrepreneurial boy, who discovers that family, friends, imagination and determination are the true keys to success; and sharing the spotlight with others can make one even richer. 

Throughout, Mr. Chickee's Funny Money rocks to a diverse new set list of original songs, all so high-energy and entertaining that kids won't even know they're being treated to a live medley of popular musical genres ranging from Motown, disco, rap, rock, jazz and hip hop. 
As a member of Holland-Dozier-Holland in the 1960's, Lamont Dozier (music writer/lyricist) is credited for being one of the primary architects of the Motown Sound, responsible for writing, co-writing and producing more than 54 #1 hits for The Supremes, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Freda Payne and a host of others. His hits include Stop in the Name of Love, How Sweet It Is, Reach Out I'll Be There, Where Did Our Love Go and more. Dozier has been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, from which he received the 2009 Johnny Mercer Award, the highest praise a songwriter can achieve. He has worked with such contemporary acts as Alison Moyet, Aretha Franklin, Simply Red, Phil Collins, Boy George, Eric Clapton, Kanye West, Joss Stone, Solange Knowles, Dave Stewart, Sir Cliff Richard, Phil Collins and George Benson. His music catalogue is one of the most sampled to date by everyone from rappers Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Lil Wayne, Dr. Dre, The Alchemist, Common, Lupe Fiasco and Three 6 Mafia, to soul icons Mary J. Blige, Nas and Usher, and even alternative rockers Linkin Park.

Paris Dozier (co-music writer/lyricist) is a native of LosAngeles. Dozier's professional career in music began when he was 15, writing songs for artists on Hollywood Records, Disney, where he would be signed two years after as a singer/songwriter and producer. While at Hollywood Records, Dozier was mentored by and produced an album with Rob Cavallo, most notably regarded as the producer who discovered Green Day and is now the CEO ofWarner Music Group. Dozier later became musical theme writer for B-InTune Television on UPN 13. He continues to write and produce for various artists in just about every genre of music.
Derrick Sanders (director) is Founding Artistic Director of Congo Square Theatre Company, a Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year in 2005, and winner of multiple Joseph Jefferson Awards and Black Theater Alliance Awards. His most recent collaborations with Chicago Children's Theater - last season's world premiere of Bud, Not Buddy and the 2011 world premiere of Jackie and Me, written by Steven Dietz, based on the book by Dan Gutman - both enjoyed widespread critical acclaim and nearly sold-out runs at the Ruth Page. CCT's version of Jackie and Me has since received productions at Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis, New York's Atlantic Theatre Company, and in Seattle, Houston and St. Louis. The script was recently published by Dramatic Publishing.

Brian Usifer (music supervision, arrangements and orchestration) was Music Director of Kinky Boots on Broadway, Associate Music Supervisor of The Book of Mormon on Broadway, and played in the orchestra of Broadway and off-Broadway productions of The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee, Avenue Q, Altar Boyz, Sister Act, Wicked and Burnt Part Boys.   

David Ingber (book) is a New York-based writer/composer. His musicals include Fantasy Football:  The Musical and Zombies Actually. He writes video content for the Major League Baseball Fan Cave, and he has written for web series including ESPN's Mayne Street with Kenny Mayne and Microsoft's Fasterpiece Theater.

The design team is Courtney O'Neill (scenic design); Rebecca Jeffords (lighting design); Ray Nardelli (sound); Christine Pascual (costume design); Kevin Iega Jeff (choreography); Margaret Goddard-Knop (properties design); and Sam Deutsch (puppet design). Dennis Conners is production stage manager.  The cast is TBA.

Mr. Chickee's Funny Money was workshopped in Summer 2013 at the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University's In the Works program, supported in part by an Arts Work grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.      

Chicago Children's Theatre's world premiere of Mr. Chickee's Funny Money is presented in association with Funny Money Enterprises and Bisno Productions

Chicago Children's Theatre's world premiere of Mr. Chickee's Funny Money will be followed by a New York production at The Atlantic Theater Company in Spring 2014.   

Mr. Chickee's Funny Money performance schedule

Previews of Mr. Chickee's Funny Money are Saturday and Sunday, January 18 and 19 at 11 a.m; and Tuesday through Friday, January 21-24 at 10 a.m. Press opening is Friday, January 24 at 7 p.m.  Performances that weekend are Saturday, January 25 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., and Sunday January 26 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.  

Performances continue through February 2: Tuesday at 10 a.m., Wednesday at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., Thursday at 10 a.m., Friday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., and Sunday at 11 a.m.  Starting the week of February 3 through February 23, regular performance times are Tuesday at 10 a.m., Wednesday at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., Thursday at 10 a.m., Friday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., and Sunday at 11 a.m.

Here at ChiIL Mama/ChiIL Live Shows we love love love that Chicago Childrens does an Autism-Friendly show for every production!      

*Please note: The Friday, February 14, 6 p.m. performance of Mr. Chickee's Funny Money is Autism-Friendly. The entire house is reserved exclusively for families with children on the autism spectrum. This creates a safe, welcoming environment for children with autism, where nobody needs to worry if a child gets loud or active. All seats are $25.

The final week of performances are Wednesday and Thursday, February 26 and 27 at 10 a.m.; Friday, February 28 at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 1 at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., and Sunday, March 2 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.    

Tickets are $25 for children and adults to Friday night performances. Tickets to weekend shows are $28 for children, $38 for adults. To purchase, visit or call (872) 222-9555. For discounted school, scout, playgroup, extended family and other group rates, visit or call  (773) 327-3778.  Running time is 75 minutes with no intermission.

Motown legend Lamont Dozier, writer/lyricist of
Mr. Chickee's Funny Money (above) and director Derrick Sanders (below)

Save with a CCT Family Membership Pass    

The most affordable way to enjoy CCT's 2013-14 season is to purchase a Family Membership Pass, on sale now and offering a 20 percent discount on all three plays this season including A Year with Frog and Toad (now through November 24, Mr. Chickee's Funny Money (January 21-March 2), and the return of Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia's The Very Hungry Caterpillar (at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie April 25 - 26, moving to The Ruth Page April 29 - June 1.) 

Family Membership Passes also come with exclusive benefits like invitations to members-only behind-the-scenes events and discounts at nearby family-friendly restaurants. To purchase a Family Membership Pass or for more information, visit or call the Chicago Children's Theatre Box Office,
(872) 222-9555

What else is in store for Chicago Children's Theatre's 2013-2014 season?

In response to having programming running for every aged child, CCT will launch a new series next spring called Later Stage. The program will add four Friday night performances during the spring 2014 run of The Very Hungry Caterpillar featuring work for older children (8 and up) being created by smaller, cutting-edge companies Theatre Unspeakable and Manual Cinema.

In addition to expanded mainstage programming, Chicago Children's Theatre's Red Kite Project, the company's ongoing series of theatrical experiences and summer theater camps for children on the autism spectrum, will present the U.S. premiere of Jacqueline Russell's new show Red Kite/Blue Sky next February at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.     

More about CCT's home, The Ruth Page Center for the Arts   

Chicago Children's Theatre will present its second full season at the Ruth Page Center, 1016 N. Dearborn St., conveniently located in the heart of Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood, just steps from the Magnificent Mile. Via public transit, the Ruth Page is a short walk from the CTA Red Line Clark/Division and Chicago stops, and the Clark, Broadway, Division and Chicago Avenue bus lines. Neighborhood street parking is available, and the Ruth Page offers discounted garage parking with ticket validation at 1250 N. Dearborn ($10) and 1030 N. State ($12).

Nearby family-friendly restaurants include Chicago Q (1160 N. Dearborn), Epic Burger (40 E. Pearson), Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (1120 N. State), The 3rd Coast Café (1260 N. Dearborn), and Dave and Busters (1030 N. Clark).      

In addition to presenting its mainstage season at one location, CCT is fully equipped to host birthday parties and other special events at its new home at the Ruth Page. CCT also has expanded its fall, winter and spring sessions of children's theater classes at Ruth Page, including Glee Club, song and dance for ages 9 to 13, Mondays from 4 to 5:30 p.m; Dream Factory, acting and story creation for ages 9 to 13, Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6 p.m.; and Tiny Sparks, a story playtime for ages 3 to 5, Saturdays from 11 to 11:50 a.m. Sign up for any session at or call (773) 227-0180 x 15 for more information.    

About Chicago Children's Theatre

Chicago Children's Theatre (CCT) focuses on the production of first-rate children's theatre, with top writing, performing and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise. CCT aspires to enrich our community through diverse and significant theatrical and educational programming that engages and inspires the child in all of us.  

Launched in 2005, Chicago Children's Theatre strives to provide affordable and accessible theatre for families and area school children. To enhance the impact of any given production's themes, Chicago Children's Theatre offers educational materials and programs for families and educators.    

Led by Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell, and Board Chair Todd Leland, the company is supported by a committed Artistic Council of Chicago-based actors, directors, musicians and designers, and a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy and business.  Officers include David Saltiel, President; Jacqueline Tilton, Vice Chair; Lynn Lockwood Murphy, Vice Chair and Secretary; and David Chung, Treasurer.     

Chicago Children's Theatre is sponsored in part by ComEd, Goldman Sachs GivesJPMorgan Chase and Target.  

For more information about Chicago Children's Theatre visit, call CCT's dedicated box office line, (872) 222-9555, or the administrative office, (773) 227-0180.

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