Saturday, October 28, 2023

Beloved FORTS! Heading Back to Filament Theatre December 2-31, 2023

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Break out the cardboard boxes: The Northwest Side theater for young audiences reprises the immersive, build-your-own-adventure experience that has become a family tradition.

Filament Theatre, the Northwest Side’s premier theater for young audiences, announces the return of FORTS! Build Your Own Adventure for a limited run, Dec. 2-31.

The immersive theatrical experience, which has become an annual family tradition for many, transforms Filament’s performance space into a cozy living room overflowing with cardboard boxes. Audience members are the stars here as they build magical forts with boxes, sheets, clothespins, couches and more.

Filament’s daydream-esque theatrical design inspires imaginative, creative play for all ages.

“At Filament, we say that the word ‘play’ is both a noun, something you watch, and a verb, something you do,” says Molly Bunder, co-artistic director for creative partnerships. “FORTS! answers the question: What would happen if we let the audience do all the fun things that actors usually do in a play. During FORTS!, the theatre and all its magic support you while you play. We are delighted to welcome new and returning audience members to FORTS! for our favorite way to play.”

In addition to standard performance, FORTS! will be presented in a variety of innovative ways in 2023:

  • ●  Adult BYOB nights every Friday night

  • ●  Sensory friendly performances on Dec. 9 and Dec. 17

  • ●  Field trip openings from Dec. 6-20

  • ●  Birthday party/private event availability

  • ●  An unforgettable Noon Year’s Eve bash for the whole family on Dec. 31

    FORTS! is also spreading its magic to suburban Glencoe, Illinois, where it is being presented at Writers Theatre through Nov. 26.

    It’s the first time in Filament’s 15-year history that one of its plays will be produced by a major American regional theater.

    “We are overjoyed to bring Filament Theatre’s FORTS! to Writers Theatre,” Associate Artistic Director Bobby Kennedy said. “Nestled as we are between a playground and a park, it has long been our wish for WT to also be a favorite destination of young people. Like all of our programming, FORTS! is an intimate theatrical experience—only this time the stage is yours and the storyteller is you. We cannot wait to see what the imaginations of our young audiences conjure up using the cardboard boxes, sheets, clothespins, flashlights, crayons and markers filling our theatre.”


The mission of Filament Theatre is to create a more equitable society by celebrating and amplifying the perspectives and experiences of young people through the performing arts. To this end, it creates immersive and site-specific theatre that inspires, empowers, and activates young people and their communities. Filament’s unique production process welcomes young people into the room as essential collaborators. Filament imagines a world where young people are the experts and adults are allies working to build a more just world. Filament Theatre has been an anchor cultural organization for the Six Corners business district in Chicago’s Portage Park since 2007. Filament serves approximately 8500 patrons annually through theatre programming, camps, school residencies, and classes. As the only theatre of its kind in Chicago, Filament is a vital home for innovative artists and young people finding and using their power through the performing arts. Please visit for more information. Awards: Nominee Chicago Tribune Best Off-Loop Performance (2016), Illinois Theatre Association Award of Excellence in Theatre for Young Audiences (2020), Bayless Family Foundation Stepping Stone Grant Recipient (2022).

FORTS! Build Your Own Adventure is generously sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Dominick and Sylvia Maino and the Six Corners Storytellers, Habitat-ReStore, and the members of the Filament Business Council.


Thursday, October 26, 2023

The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party Returns to Chicago Children’s Theatre November 4-December 24, 2023

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Chicago Children’s Theatre’s popular holiday attraction, and a seasonal rite of passage for Chicago's youngest theatergoers, is returning November 4-December 24, 2023. 

Recommended for toddlers Though Age 8 With Accompanying Adults

(left) Felix Mayes and Lily Emerson in the 2022 production of The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party. (right) Lily Emerson meets audience members at the post-show holiday tea party. Photos by Charles Osgood.

Experience CCT's annual holiday-show-plus-after-party, and you'll see why it so often serves as the first introduction to live theater for our next generation of live theatergoers.

This year, family audiences will be treated to "The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse," "The Tale of Two Bad Mice," "The Tailor of Gloucester," and of course, "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," as they jump from the page to the stage in this acclaimed, awe-inducing trunk and puppet show. 

After the show, families gather in the lobby to meet the puppets, enjoy chocolate milk and cookies by Eli’s Cheesecake, and share the holidays with other families from all over Chicago.

Join the tradition! Dress in your holiday finest, or come as you are. Because it’s not the holidays until your favorite toddler has experienced The Beatrix Holiday Tea Party.
(Left) Returning cast members Felix Mayes and Lily Emerson in the 2022 production of The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party. (right) Audience members enjoying the post-show holiday tea party. Photos by Charles Osgood.

‘Tis the eighth season for The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party, Chicago Children’s Theatre’s popular holiday attraction, and a seasonal rite of passage for countless Chicago toddlers, November 4-December 24, 2023. Chicago Children’s Theatre’s annual holiday-show-plus-after-party has served as the first introduction to live theater for so many of Chicago’s very youngest theatergoers. 

So join the tradition, dress in your holiday finest, and bring the whole family. Or, bring the neighborhood playgroup and just come as you are. Tickets also make wonderful gifts for families with children up to 8-years-old. Because it’s not the holiday season until your favorite toddler has experienced The Beatrix Holiday Tea Party

(from left) Charlie MalaveFelix Mayes and Lily Emerson in The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party.

This year, The Tale of Mrs. TittlemouseThe Tale of Two Bad MiceThe Tailor of Gloucester, and of course, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, will jump from the page to the stage in Chicago Children’s Theatre’s awe-inducing trunk and puppet show. 

Three charming storytellers - Lily EmersonCharlie Malave and Felix Mayes - unlock mysterious vintage trunks, then pull levers and turn cranks to reveal favorite animal adventures from the books, toy theater style. While Lily and Felix interweave Beatrix Potter’s classic narration and interactive moments for kids to join the action, Charlie is a veritable one-man-band playing gentle, original music on guitar, cello, toy piano and banjo.

After the show, families gather in the lobby to meet the puppets, take selfies with the cast, and sit together at long, communal tables to enjoy chocolate milk, cookies by Eli’s Cheesecake, and the chance to celebrate the holidays with other families from all over the city.

The Chicago Reader calls The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party“dazzling, brisk at under an hour, and sweet as can be.” 

That’s thanks to its ingenious creators: Will BishopLara Carling, Kay KronGrace Needlman and Ray RehbergWill Bishop directs. Puppets are by Grace Needlman. Original music is by Ray Rehberg and Charlie Malave. Costumes are by Janelle Manno, based on the original designs by Jillian Gryzlak. Lighting designer is Becca Jeffords. Sound designer is Daniel Etti-Williams. Anastar Alvarez is the production coordinator.
The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party runs November 4-December 24 at Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S. Racine. in Chicago's West Loop. 

Performances are Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., with added holiday week performances Thursday and Friday, December 21 and 22 at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The show runs 60 minutes, followed by the tea party. Recommended for ages up to 8.

Tickets start at $45.25, including fees, and are on sale now at Mark your calendar and purchase early, because many performances will sell out. 

Call CCT Guest Services, (312) 374-8835, or email to learn about weekday morning matinees and discounted rates for schools, playgroups, birthday parties and scouting groups. 

Felix Mayes and Lily Emerson in The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party

Access Weekend for The Beatrix Holiday Tea Party is 
November 25 and 26. Services include:
Saturday, November 25

9:30 a.m.       
Open Captions

11:30 a.m.
Audio Description and Touch Tour (must be requested two weeks prior to performance)

Sunday, November 26

9:30 a.m.
Sensory Friendly

11:30 a.m. 
ASL Interpretation and Open Captions

For more information about access and inclusion at Chicago Children’s Theatre, visit or email

Chicago Children’s Theatre is a “no shushing” theater. It is centrally located in the former 12th District Chicago Police Station, now home to the city’s largest professional theater devoted to children and young families. It’s minutes from I-90 and I-290, as well as downtown and Ashland Avenue. Free, onsite parking is available on the south side of the theater. Free street parking can be found nearby on weekends, or try the Impark parking lot, 1301 W. Madison St.

For more, visit, follow the company on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to its YouTube channel, CCTv: Virtual Theatre and Learning from Chicago Children’s Theatre.

The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party. Courtesy Chicago Children's Theatre.

Coming soon to Chicago Children’s Theatre
(left, from left) Matthew Yee played Frog and Andy Nagraj (right) was Toad in Chicago Children’s Theatre’s A Year with Frog and Toad in 2017. Photo by Charles Osgood. 
(right) Michelle Lopez-Rios will direct CCT’s new 2024 staging of A Year with Frog and Toad.

A Year with Frog and Toad
Book and lyrics by Robert Reale and Willie Reale
Based on the books by Arnold Lobel 
Directed by Michelle Lopez-Rios
Music Direction and Musical Reductions by Christie Chilles Twillie
Designers include Micah Figueroa (choreographer and associate director), Courtney O'Neill (set), Rachel Healy (costumes), Christie Chilles Twillie (sound) and Lonnae Hickman (props) 
April 13-June 9, 2024
Press opening: Saturday and Sunday, April 13 and 14 at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
Public performances: Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
For all ages                                               

Chicago Children’s Theatre’s 19th season finale is a celebration of the joyful energy that launched the company, A Year with Frog and Toad. Children’s author and illustrator Arnold Lobel's beloved characters hop from the page to the stage in this Tony-nominated musical based on his popular children’s book that follows two best friends – the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad – through four fun-filled seasons.

Michelle Lopez-Rios, who staged CCT’s 2022 world premiere Carmela Full of Wishes, returns to direct a new take on this beloved tale of friendship that endures, weathering all seasons. Cast is TBA. The design team includes Micah Figueroa (choreographer and associate director), Courtney O'Neill (set), Rachel Healy (costumes), Christie Chilles Twillie (sound) and Lonnae Hickman (props). 

About Chicago Children’s Theatre

“The Chicago theater scene is legendarily vibrant, so naturally a number of companies tailor productions to younger audiences. The cream of the crop is Chicago Children’s Theatre.” – Chicago Tribune

Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S. Racine St. in Chicago’s West Loop, is Chicago’s destination for the best plays, musicals, classes and performing arts camps for young audiences. 

The company was founded in 2005 with a big idea: Chicago is the greatest theater city in the world, and it deserves a great children’s theater. Today, Chicago Children’s Theatre is the city’s largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families. 

In 2017, following 11 years of itinerancy, Chicago Children's Theatre celebrated the opening of its forever home in Chicago’s West Loop community. The building, formerly the 12th District Chicago Police Station, was repurposed into a LEED Gold-certified, mixed-use performing arts, education and community engagement facility. For children, parents, caregivers and teachers, CCT is a convenient, welcoming community hub, centrally located in the city, with free, onsite parking. 

Chicago Children’s Theatre has established a national reputation for the production of first-rate children’s theater with professional writing, performing, and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise. In 2019, the company won the National TYA Artistic Innovation Award from Theatre for Young Audiences/USA. Chicago Children’s Theatre has also garnered six NEA Art Works grants, and in 2017, was the first theater for young audiences to win a National Theatre Award from the American Theatre Wing, creators of the Tony Awards.

In tandem with its live productions, Chicago Children’s Theatre offers a full slate of Access services for patrons with disabilities, including ASL interpretation, open captioning, touch tours and sensory friendly performances. CCT also provides thousands of free and reduced-price tickets to under-resourced schools each season in partnership with Chicago Public Schools.

In addition to live shows, Chicago Children’s Theatre offers a full roster of performing arts education programs year round for ages 0 to 14. Visit for information on classes, workshops, winter, spring break and “school’s out” camps, and summer camps. Due to popular demand, in addition to its home in the West Loop, CCT camps and classes have expanded to new locations including Menomonee Club Drucker Center in Lincoln Park. 

Chicago Children's Theatre also provides live theater experiences, classes and camps for children with autism and other special needs via its Red Kite Project, celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2023.

Chicago Children’s Theatre is supported by Goldman SachsPaul M. Angell Family FoundationThe Ralla Klepak Foundation for Education in the Performing ArtsThe Shubert FoundationPolk Bros FoundationThe MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity and the Arts at PrinceBayless Family FoundationThe Crown FamilyRea Charitable TrustComEdUS BankCity of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE)Illinois Arts CouncilIllinois Humanities CouncilNational Endowment for the Arts (NEA)The Susan M. Venturi Fund in memory of James and Roslyn Marks to Support Theatre Education Access, and Erin and Jason, Ben, Bici and David Pritzker

Chicago Children’s Theatre is led by Co-Founders, Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, with Board President Armando Chacon

For more, visit, follow the company on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to its YouTube channel,