Saturday January 20 10:19 am

Spotlighting events along the south shore of Lake Michigan

CHICAGO CHILDREN’S THEATRE TO HOST CITY OF CHICAGO’S LAUNCH OF THE "YEAR OF CREATIVE YOUTH”

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On Saturday, January 13, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., city officials, teachers and leaders from Chicago’s top arts education institutions, neighborhood representatives, children and families will gather to launch 2018 as the Year of Creative Youth in Chicago.

Children can look forward to a big and exciting day full of free classes for a variety of ages, including Hip Hop for Tots, stage combat, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) workshops and more.

CCT’s education partners at The Station will be offering classes too, including The Second City Training Center, Piven Theatre Workshop, Old Town School of Folk Music’s Wiggleworms and Actors Gymnasium.

Guests will be invited into the Pritzker Family Studio Theatre for a sneak peek of Chicago Children’s Theatre’s newest world premiere, My Wonderful Birthday Suit!, opening Tuesday, January 16.

Snacks and refreshments will be provided, including complimentary cookies from West Loop favorite and CCT neighbor, Warm Belly Bakery.

While the kids are at play, parents will be invited to attend a short discussion about the benefits of arts education, with a focus on Chicago Children’s Theatre’s commitment to making The Station a central hub in the city for creativity and inclusion for all of Chicago’s children.

WGN Radio host Justin Kaufmann will lead the conversation with panelists including Melanie Wang, Director of Cultural Planning, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Frank Maugeri, Community Programs Artistic Director of Chicago Children’s Theatre, and leaders from The Second City, Piven Theatre, Old Town School of Folk Music and Actors Gymnasium.

"Chicago Children's Theatre is honored our January open house will in large part be a celebration and kick off for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events’ 2018 Year of Creative Youth, a year long series of events which our home, The Station, is excited to support and share because it weaves into our education and community mission so confidently,” said Maugeri.

“Our ambition is 100 S. Racine not only be a destination for the best family theater in Chicago, but also a hub for our city's finest educational courses and camps taught by our own artists and our highly skilled partners like Actors Gymnasium, Piven Theatre, Old Town School of Folk Music, The Second City and others, in addition to serving our city through valuable community building activities that satisfy all children of all backgrounds."

Free family events continue Monday, January 15, Martin Luther King Day, when Chicago Children’s Theatre throws open its doors again from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to celebrate MLK’s Birthday and Chicago Children’s Theatre’s first birthday in its new home.

Remember, parents, there’s no school on MLK day, so bring the kids for a free day of fun at Chicago’s former 12th District Police Station, now Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, a beautiful community hub for creativity and theater in the heart of the West Loop.

In addition to balloons, birthday cake, cool crafts and a giant birthday card to sign, kids can interact with puppets from My Wonderful Birthday Suit!. This highly entertaining, timely and important new play for young audiences that starts school performances the next day, opens to the public Saturday, January 20, and runs through February 18.

Written by award-winning Chicagoland playwright, director and educator Gloria Bond Clunie, My Wonderful Birthday Suit! promises to captivate children with its festive birthday party atmosphere. But it is also intended to help children, parents and teachers speak honestly about diversity and encourage all ages to move from tolerating differences, to understanding, accepting and celebrating what makes everyone unique.

As part of CCT’s free MLK Day festivities, Clunie will host interactive theater activities celebrating Martin Luther King’s birthday and the themes of acceptance he championed that form the core of My Wonderful Birthday Suit!

Chicago author Michael Tyler, joined by illustrator David Lee Csisko, will also read and sign copies of his popular children’s book, The Skin You Live In.

Space is limited and advance registration is required for both events. Please pre-register and look for event updates at www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call Chicago Children’s Theatre Guest Services, (872) 222-9555.

On-site parking is available in the lot right next to the theater.

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.

In addition to a full slate of shows in the Pritzker Family Studio, The Station has four classrooms that host a year-round roster of classes and camps for toddlers to teens, along with a variety of community engagement programs.

A robust collective of elite Chicago youth arts education providers is helping train young minds at Chicago Children’s Theatre’s new West Loop home. Partners include The Second City, offering improv classes for kids ages 9 to 13, Old Town School of Folk Music’s Wiggleworms early childhood music education classes, circus and aerial arts with The Actors Gymnasium, and advanced youth acting classes from Piven Theatre Workshop. Introductory courses taught by CCT teaching artists include Intro to Acting, Shake the Stage and Stage Combat for Kids. Add interactive courses like Teeny Tales, Bubble Jams, Hip Hop 4Totz and Hip Hop 4Kidz, and The Station is now a centrally located community hub with the most diverse roster of performing arts classes anywhere in Chicago.

Registration is now open for the upcoming, eight-week winter session of camp and classes, January 22-March 17, 2018. Also new this year, CCT is offering its first Beach Party-themed Winter Camp, Tuesday, January 2 through Friday, January 5.

Visit www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org/winterclasses to view class and camp schedules and sign your children up online, or stop by Chicago Children’s Theatre, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or weekends during show hours to register in person. For more, email education@chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call the education department, (312) 374-8834.

Looking ahead to the rest of CCT’s 2017-18 season, soon after My Wonderful Birthday Suit!, The Station will transform into an all-immersive, two-story theatrical environment for An Epic Tale of Scale. Think The Magic School Bus meets Sleep No More and you’re close for an encounter that surely defies description, written and directed by Henry Wishcamper and Jo Cattell, collaboratively designed by CCT Community Programs Artistic Director Frank Maugeri, with original music by Gabriel Ruiz. Performances are March 10-April 8.

For its season finale, Chicago Children’s Theatre, in a co-commission with Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis, will debut Last Stop on Market Street, a world premiere musical based on the popular children’s book by Matt de la Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson, winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal, Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book. Playwright Cheryl L. West is creating this new stage adaptation of Peña’s tale about young CJ and his wise grandmother who teaches him to find beauty in everyday city life. CCT welcomes back the father and son songwriting duo, Motown legend Lamont Dozier and his son Paris Ray Dozier, the team behind the music in CCT’s 2015 smash hit Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, to create another original score. Henry Godinez directs. Andra Velis Simon is music director. Performances are April 24-June 3.

Since its launch in 2005, Chicago Children’s Theatre 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 quality and significance of powerhouses such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre and Lookingglass Theatre. CCT has always believed children should be treated as the sophisticated audiences that they are, showcasing high profile and award-winning talent, inventive production values and compelling stories that challenge, educate and entertain. CCT also honors a strong commitment to low-income families and children with special needs. In partnership with Chicago Public Schools, the company offers free tickets to more than 5,000 Chicago-area low-income students each season.

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. CCT has built its national reputation due to its focus on new work, producing 14 world premieres in the last 11 years including The Selfish Giant, The Hundred Dresses, Jackie and Me, Dot and Ziggy, The Houdini Box, The Elephant and The Whale (in association with Redmoon), Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, Leo Lionni’s Frederick, Wonderland, Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure, A Snowy Day with Beatrix Potter, Jabari Dreams of Freedom, Moonshot: A Race to Space and The Year I Didn’t Go To School: A Homemade Circus. These enjoyed successful inaugural runs in Chicago, many followed by productions at theaters across the U.S.

Led by Co-Founders, Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, Board President Eric Neveux and Community Programs Artistic Director Frank Maugeri, Chicago Children’s Theatre is supported by a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy and business. Chicago Children's Theatre is sponsored in part by ComEd, Goldman Sachs Gives and JP Morgan Chase.

For more information, visit www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org.