Thursday, October 11, 2012

ACT OUT: Chicago Children's Theatre 2012-13 Season Begins TODAY In New Digs




Woo hoo!    Harold and the Purple Crayon opens today!!    Check it out.   This book was one of my kids' childhood favs and I remember it from my early days, too.   We can't wait to see what magic Chicago Children's Theatre has planned for the musical adaptation.   Get your tickets today for this Chicago premier!   Ages 3 and up...and up....and up.

ChiIL Mama was thrilled to meet with Jacqueline Russell, Frank Maugeri and other key production staff for the upcoming season at Chicago Children's Theatre.   We're beyond stoked to see our favs play so well with others.   The collaboration between Redmoon's Frank Maugeri and Chicago Children's Theatre on The Elephant & The Whale is bound to be epic!

We hope to have more original video interviews here at ChiIL Mama/ChiIL Live Shows and we'll have loads of updates as each show opens.   Right now we're so excited to see Harold and the Purple Crayon opening this weekend.   Our readers will get a sneak peek at the early production sketches for this season's sets, costumes and so much more.

Chicago Children’s Theatre (CCT) and Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell are delighted to announce the company has a new home and will be an Artist In-Residence at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago for the entire 2012-2013 season.

In addition to welcoming its audience to one convenient destination all season, Chicago’s #1 presenter of top-quality professional children’s theater is thrilled to confirm three wildly imaginative productions for 2012-2013 – the Chicago premiere of a new musical version of Harold and the Purple Crayon, directed by Sean Graney (Oct. 11-Nov. 4, 2012), an adaptation of the Newberry Medal winning novel Bud, Not Buddy, directed by Derrick Sanders (Jan. 12-Feb. 24, 2013), and the world premiere of The Elephant & The Whale, created by Frank Maugeri, co-directed by Maugeri and Leslie Buxbaum Danzig, with a script by Seth Bockley and music by Kevin O’Donnell, produced in association with Redmoon (Apr. 10-May 26, 2013).

After seven years of being itinerant, we are so looking forward to our new residency at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts because it gives Chicagoland families one consistent location to experience a full season of exceptional theatrical programming,” said Chicago Children’s Theatre Artistic Director and Co-Founder Jacqueline Russell. “Ruth Page was home for our 2010 smash hit Jackie and Me so we can’t wait to bring our audience back for three consecutive productions sure to delight children of all ages.”

Also new for 2012-2013: The performance schedules for all three productions include family-friendly 6:30 pm Thursday shows, proceeded by pizza parties in the Ruth Page Center’s multi-purpose room starting at 5:30 pm. On Friday evenings, families are encouraged to kick off their weekend by wearing their PJs to the 6:30 pm show, and stay after for a fun post-show PJ Party with members of the cast.

In addition to its three-play season at the Ruth Page Center, Chicago Children’s Theatre will take its season-opener Harold and the Purple Crayon on a regional tour after its downtown run, with performances November 7-11 at the Beverly Arts Center, 2401 W. 111th St. in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, and November 14-18 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 N. Skokie Blvd. in Skokie.

2012-2013 Family Membership Passes on sale now

For complete season information, visit or call (773) 227-0180 x 11. For group inquiries, contact GroupTix at (773) 327-3778 or visit

More about Chicago Children’s Theatre’s 2012-2013 season:

Harold and the Purple Crayon
A Chicago Children’s Theatre Chicago premiere

Based on the books by Crockett Johnson
Text by Don Darryl Rivera, Lyrics by Robert Burgess, 
Music by Auston James
Directed by Sean Graney

October 11-November 4, 2012 
Recommended for ages 3 and up

Also touring to The Beverly Arts Center, 2401 W. 111th St., Chicago, November 7-11
And the North Shore Centre for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, November 14-18

Harold and the Purple Crayon teaches young audiences that anything is possible with a crayon and a big imagination. Meet Harold, a curious four year old boy who, armed with his trusty purple crayon, has the power to create a world of his own simply by drawing it. This imaginative musical uses breathtaking animation, inventive puppetry, and original music to bring Harold’s purple-hued world to life; it is perfect for introducing young children to theatre while simultaneously captivating their older companions.

Harold and the Purple Crayon will be helmed by CCT Artistic Associate Sean Graney, who directed the company’s productions of The Hundred Dresses, Honus and Me, and Hana’s Suitcase. Graney, Founding Artistic Director of The Hypocrites, is the recipient of a Career Development for Directors Program award from the National Endowment for the Arts and Theatre Communications Group, the winner of two non-Equity Joseph Jefferson Awards, and was named Chicago’s Best Avant-Garde Director by Chicago Magazine and 2004’s Chicagoan of the Year: Theater by the Chicago Tribune.

Bud, Not Buddy
Based on the Newberry winning novel by Christopher Paul Curtis
Adapted by Reginald Andre Jackson
Directed by Derrick Sanders

January 12-February 24, 2013 Press opening: Friday, January 18 at 7 pm
Recommended for ages 8 and up

Bud, Not Buddy follows the journey of a young African-American orphan as he searches for his father. Clues kept in a suitcase lead him to adventures in Depression-era Michigan, where he finds community among a group of jazz musicians and, ultimately, an unexpected sense of home.

Popular reading in the classroom, author Christopher Paul Curtis’ Bud, Not Buddy was the winner of the 2000 Newberry Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award. In 2010, Jackson's stage adaptation won the Distinguished Play Award from The American Alliance for Theater and Education.

Award-winning director Derrick Sanders – Founding Artistic Director of Congo Square Theatre Company, a Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year in 2005, winner of multiple Joseph Jefferson Awards and Black Theater Alliance Awards, and director of CCT’s 2010 world premiere Jackie and Me – has a national reputation, having directed at countless Chicago, regional and New York theaters. He is known for his many collaborations with the legendary August Wilson, including in Chicago his award-winning productions of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and Seven Guitars for Congo Square. His Off-Broadway directorial debut, Wilson’s King Hedley II for Signature Theatre, received two Lucille Lortel and Audelco nominations. He was also a part of August Wilson’s World premiere productions of Radio Golf and Gem of the Ocean on Broadway and at the Huntington Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and the Goodman.

The Elephant & The Whale
A Chicago Children’s Theatre world premiere, presented in association with Redmoon
Created by Frank Maugeri

Co-directed by Frank Maugeri and Leslie Buxbaum Danzig
Script by Seth Bockley

Music by Kevin O’Donnell
April 10 –May 26, 2013 Press opening Friday, April 12, 7 pm
Recommended for all ages

CCT’s seventh season will conclude with a world premiere collaboration with Redmoon’s Frank Maugeri to create The Elephant & The Whale, an all new family fable featuring sea shanties, wild mechanical objects, theatrical clowning, hand painted imagery, exquisite shadow puppets and an innovative sound design. This new work is conceived by Maugeri with an original story and songs by Seth Bockley with composer Kevin O’Donnell. Co-directed by Leslie Buxbaum Danzig (of 500 Clown), this epic tale invites audiences of all ages to discover the majesty of the largest animals on our planet, and a story of friendship conquering the sea itself. 

The year is 1901. On the largest steamship in the world, a captive African Gray Elephant is bound for America. Mid-Atlantic, the boat encounters a massive blue whale. What happens next is a love story spanning species, time zones and many nautical miles. The performance will feature a live band and three performers who crank contraptions, pedal panoramic painting apparatuses, operate wild puppets and manipulate shadow sequences all while they sing shanty-like songs to weave this original and epic tale.  

Redmoon Co-Artistic Director Frank Maugeri during his 15 year tenure with the company has created countless spectacle productions and events seen around Chicago. Highlights include serving as director, co-creator, and designer of the recent Astronaut’s Birthday, a large-scale animated, graphic novel projected on the Museum of Contemporary Art’s 80-foot façade; co-creation and design of the critically acclaimed The Feast: an intimate Tempest at Chicago Shakespeare Theater; seven of the famed All Hallow’s Eve ritual celebrations in Logan Square; over a dozen annual family-friendly Winter Pageant performances; Once Upon a Time (Jeff Award, After Dark Award) with its subsequent tour to France; Laika's Coffin and Cape and Squiggle for the Chicago Humanities Festival at MCA; Boneyard Prayer; and Redmoon’s longest running production The Cabinet, its remount and tour of Brazil.

Seth Bockley, the critically-acclaimed writer and adapter, is a playwright in residence at the Goodman Theater and book writer for the new musical February House. He is also an artist in residence at the University of Chicago, and was a recipient of Theater Communications Group's New Generations Grant for which he spent two years with Redmoon as Directing Apprentice. Leslie Buxbaum Danzig (co-director) co-created Lucky Plush Productions’ The Better Half, which premiered at MCA Chicago and tours in 2012-2013 throughout the US.  She was resident director with 500 Clown for 10 years, directed Redmoon’s Hunchback at New Victory Theater (NYC), and is Program Curator for the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry at University of Chicago. Kevin O’Donnell (composer) is a Chicago-based musician; he has worked in Chicago theater for the last 10 years, during which time he has been nominated for 19 Jeff Awards (receiving 8), and 2 consecutive After Dark Awards (Outstanding Season).  He has worked around the country, both in theatre and as a musician, having recorded and toured with Andrew Bird, Kelly Hogan, Nickel Creek, and many others. 

About The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, Chicago Children’s Theatre’s home for 2012-2013

The Ruth Page Center for Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., is located just steps from Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile. The historic 1927 building in which The Center resides sits on a lovely tree-lined street in the heart of Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, near the CTA Red Line and the Clark, Broadway and Division bus lines. Under the aegis of The Ruth Page Foundation, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts has for over 40 years committed its resources to supporting dance and theater in Chicago through its initiatives and programs. Among these is its Artist In-Residence program where emerging and established artists and organizations can have a home, office space, rehearsal space, collaborative programming, and performance opportunities. Lookingglass Theater and Chicago Shakespeare Theater have both called the Ruth Page Center home before moving on to establish their own venues. In addition to Chicago Children’s Theatre, the 2012-2013 Ruth Page Artist-In Residence program includes ShawChicago Theatre Company, River North Dance Chicago, CDI/Concert Dance Inc, DanceWorks Chicago and the Ruth Page Civic Ballet. Chicago’s top dance companies also perform at the Ruth Page Center as part of its Subsidized Theater Rental Program. For more information, visit

About Chicago Children’s Theatre

Chicago Children’s Theatre focuses on the production of first-rate children’s theatre in Chicago, with top writing, performing and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise. Chicago Children’s Theatre 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.

This summer, Chicago Children’s Theatre is expanding its operations with the launch of the company’s first-ever Summer Theater Camp, July 16-27, 2012 at Franklin Fine Arts Center in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood. Guided by artists and arts educators with extensive experience in the Chicago theater industry, CCT summer campers will learn to create their own stories and work as a team to turn those stories into one big theatrical adventure. For more information and to register visit or call 773.227.0180.

In addition to its mainstage programming for families, schools and groups, Chicago Children’s Theatre will also continue its Red Kite Project in 2012-2013, creating multi-sensory, interactive theater programming tailored specifically to the needs and interests of children on the autism spectrum. CCT’s Red Kite Project also includes Camp Red Kite, an annual summer arts camp tailored specifically to the unique interests and needs of children on the autism spectrum. For the most up-to-date information on every Red Kite development, including the upcoming summer session of Camp Red Kite, June 25-July 13 at Chicago’s Cleveland Elementary School, call 773.227.0180 x15 or visit

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; J. Scot Pepper and Jacqueline Tilton, Vice Chairs; Lynn Lockwood Murphy, Vice Chair and Secretary; and David Chung, Treasurer.

Chicago Children’s Theatre’s 2012-2013 season is made possible in part by the generosity of its sponsors:  ComEd is the Official Lighting Sponsor. Goldman Sachs Gives is the Official Season Sponsor.  JPMorgan Chase is the Official Education Sponsor. Target is the Official School Field Trip Sponsor. United is the Chicago Premiere Sponsor as well as the Official and Exclusive Airline Sponsor. 

For more information about Chicago Children’s Theatre visit or call 773.227.0180.

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