Chicago Children’s Theatre, Chicago’s largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families, will launch its 2021-2022 “Season of Resilience” this fall not with public performances, but in-school ROAR Residencies (Residencies of Arts and Resilience), developed with the Lurie Center for Childhood Resilience, to support kindergartners and first graders returning to school after a year of COVID.
Chicago Children's Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave. in Chicago's West Loop, plans to return to live performances in November, 2021.
Live, indoor in-person performances are set to return at Chicago Children’s Theatre in November with The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party, a must-see holiday rite of passage for every Chicago toddler (November 20-December 24).
Next comes the World Premiere live production of Leonardo and Sam, based on the beloved children’s books by Mo Willems, created by Chicago’s wildly inventive Manual Cinema (January 29-February 27, 2022).
Finally, dreams will come true next spring when CCT presents the World Premiere of Carmela Full of Wishes, adapted from the book by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson (Last Stop on Market Street), (April 23-May 22, 2022).
New virtual productions set for release in 2021-22 include The Relocation of Nokwsi, a new Native American-themed video by Robert Hicks Jr. dropping October 11, 2021, in celebration of National Indigenous People’s Day, This Ability by Daniel Carlton and Nambi E. Kelley, featuring young actors with disabilities, set for release December 3, 2021 in celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and more Walkie Talkies audio adventure podcast tours through Chicago’s many neighborhoods.
While Chicago Children’s Theatre is all about the kids, parents should take note of School’s Out Day Camps, already on CCT’s calendar for kids grades K-5 on those “surprise” CPS non-attendance days. Sign up now and check out the full slate of Fall Session In-Person Classes and Camps for kids 0-14, including a series of Red Kite classes for children on the autism spectrum, starting September 27, 2021.
Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave. in Chicago’s West Loop, is Chicago’s destination for the best plays, musicals, classes and performing arts camps for young audiences. For parents, caregivers and teachers, Chicago Children’s Theatre is a convenient, welcoming community hub, centrally located in the city, with free, onsite parking.
Single tickets to all 2021-22 season productions are on sale now at chicagochildrenstheatre.org. Take advantage of a $5 early-bird discount on tickets purchased through Labor Day.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about discounted group rates for schools, playgroups, birthday parties and scouting groups.
Join Chicago Children’s Theatre August 28 for a free End of Summer Celebration, enjoy free classes, live music and an outdoor popsicle station
Teaching artist Liz Chidester leads a sing-along with kids and parents at Chicago Children's Theatre. Photo by Charles Osgood.
Families are invited to a free, all-ages End of Summer Celebration, Saturday, August 28 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Chicago Children’s Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave. The day features free previews of fall class programming, giving kids the chance to test drive classes on puppet making, tumbling and storytelling. Other activities include a screening room of CCT virtual productions, a green screen photo station, dance and games. The event includes live music with Yuri “The Human Beatbox” Lane, dancing with Time Brickey, and an outdoor popsicle station. To learn more and register, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org/event/endofsummercelebration.
Chicago Children’s Theatre’s 17th season – A Season of Resilience
In-school ROAR Residencies for grades K-1
In-school ROAR Residencies (Residencies of Arts and Resilience), developed in partnership with Lurie’s Center for Childhood Resilience, help support kindergartners and first graders returning to the classroom after a year of COVID-19. Led by CCT teaching artists specially trained in trauma-informed, storytelling techniques, ROAR Residencies give children the tools of sharing with others, self care and self agency in difficult moments. They provide a unique, carefully crafted setting for children to authentically reflect on and rebound from challenging or stressful situations.
Educators interested in booking a fall ROAR Residency, or exploring residency opportunities for older children as well, can visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org/in-school-residencies.
2021-22 in-person productions
Top: Kay Kron in The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party. Bottom: Kids are invited on stage to play with the puppets and take pictures, then they head to the lobby for a festive spread of cookies and hot cocoa.
The Beatrix Potter Holiday Tea Party
- Based on the stories by Beatrix Potter
- By Will Bishop, Grace Needlman, Ray Rehberg, Lara Carling and Kay Kron
- For ages 2-6
- November 20-December 24, 2021
- Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
- Single tickets start at $42 including show and tea party
Children, you are cordially invited to meet your friends Jeremy Fisher, Simpkin the Cat, Peter Rabbit, and for the first time this year, Tom Kitten!
Four adorable Beatrix Potter favorite tales come to life in this mesmerizing, interactive trunk and puppet show, complete with original music on mandolin, violin, toy piano and banjo. Levers are pulled and cranks are turned to reveal images that surprise and delight.
This handmade, lovingly crafted piece is an annual favorite at CCT. Over the past five years, Beatrix Potter & Friends has toured to schools, libraries, cultural institutions, and even to China. CCT’s charming storytellers interweave the classic narration and guide gentle interactive moments, recruiting young watchers to join the adventure. After the show, come up on stage to play with the puppets and take pictures. Then, head to the lobby for a festive spread of hot cocoa and cookies.
(left) Mo Willems' characters Leonardo and Sam, as rendered by Manual Cinema;
(right) Giacometti with Lily Emerson as Emily in Leonardo and Sam.
World Premiere live production
Leonardo and Sam
- Based on the book by Mo Willems
- Created by Manual Cinema
- Directed by Sarah Fornace
- For ages 5 and up
- January 29-February 27, 2022
- Public performances: Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
- Single tickets start at $27
- School Shows: Tuesdays through Thursdays at 10:00 a.m.; Fridays at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Leonardo is a terrible monster. He tries so hard to be scary, but he just…isn’t. Then Leonardo finds Sam, the most scaredy-cat kid in the world. Will Leonardo finally get his chance to scare the tuna salad out of an unsuspecting human? Or will it be the start of an unlikely friendship? They will need to make a big decision: will they be friends or will they be controlled by their fears?
Chicago Children’s Theatre will present the first live staging of Leonardo and Sam following its virtual debut in March 2021 at the Kennedy Center. The piece is adapted from the beloved children’s books by Mo Willems, and realized through mind-bending projection, DIY cinema, music, and immersive sound by critically-acclaimed multimedia artists Manual Cinema, Chicago Tribune Chicago Artists of the Year (2018), and shadow puppet animators for the film Candyman, directed by Nia DaCosta and produced by Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, set for release August 27, 2021.
Images from "Carmela Full of Wishes" by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers. Illustrated images © 2018 by Christian Robinson.
Carmela Full of Wishes
- Based on the book by Matt de la Peña
- Illustrated by Christian Robinson
- Adapted by Alvaro Saar Rios
- Directed by Michelle Lopez-Rios
- For all ages
- April 23-May 22, 2022
- Public performances: Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
- Single tickets start at $27
- School shows: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m.; Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.
When Carmela wakes up on her birthday, her wish has already come true–she’s finally old enough to join her big brother as he does the family errands. Traveling through their neighborhood, Carmela finds a lone dandelion growing in the pavement. But before she can blow its white fluff away, her brother tells her she has to make a wish. If only she can think of just the right wish to make…
Carmela Full of Wishes is based on the book of the same title by Newbery Medal and Caldecott Honor-winning author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Christian Robinson. In 2019, CCT co-commissioned the critically-acclaimed World Premiere of their book Last Stop on Market Street. Join Chicago Children’s Theatre for this new, moving ode to family, to dreamers, and to finding hope in the most unexpected places.
Carmela Full of Wishes, co-commissioned by Chicago Children’s Theatre and The Rose Theater, is made possible in part by a grant from The Bayless Family Foundation and by a grant from National Endowment for the Arts’ Grants for Arts Projects.
New virtual productions debuting on CCTV, Virtual Theatre and Learning from Chicago Children’s Theatre
Screen captures from The Relocation of Nokwsi
The Relocation of Nokwsi
- Created by Robert Hicks Jr.
- Illustrated by Tokeya Waci U
- Original music by Alex Kimball Williams
- Director of Photography: Jeffrey Paschal
- Puppet Director: Will Bishop
- Puppet Assistant: Lonnae Hickman
- Produced by Will Bishop and Jacqueline Russell
- For ages 8 and up
- Release date: October 11, 2021 - National Indigenous People’s Day
- Runs through November 11, 2022
- Free with suggested donation
The Relocation of Nokwsi is a virtual puppet production inspired by the author’s grandfather’s true experiences. Gather round and listen to the story of Nokwsi’s journey away from his people, the Cherokee, Paiute, Yakama, and Shoshone, to live and work in Chicago. No longer surrounded by nature, he begins to navigate a world of noise and lights, where people are always in a rush. He confronts homesickness, air pollution and racism, but eventually finds joy in his new community and beauty through the concrete.
The Relocation of Nokwsi is set during an often overlooked moment in Indigenous history in America, when the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) created a “relocation” program in the 1950s and 60s to coerce American Indians to move to urban areas and assimilate into mainstream society. It is the second production to emerge from the Springboard Project, an initiative launched in 2020 by Chicago Children’s Theatre to foster new works made especially for today’s young people. It is made possible in part by a grant from The Ralla Klepak Trust for the Performing Arts.
- Written by Daniel Carlton and Nambi E. Kelley
- Directed by Daniel Carlton
- Assistant Directed by Nambi E. Kelley
- Composer and Sound Designer: Andy Slater
- Autism Consultant: Charlotte "Chuck" Gruman
- Low-Vision Consultant: Elijah Eiler
- Media Designed by Yu “Leo” Lei
- Assistant Media Designer: Rachel Peterkin
- Director of Photography: Jeff Paschal
- Production Coordinator: Danny Fender
- Assistant Production Coordinator: Anastar Alvarez
- For ages 6 and up
- Release date: December 3, 2021 - International Day of Persons with Disabilities
- Runs through January 3, 2023
- Free with suggested donation
When an international cat celebrity escapes from O’Hare and is lost on the streets of Chicago, who will come to the rescue? Akeh, a young autistic person, uses his popular hashtag #thisability to start the search for the runaway kitty. As news spreads, will Moore, a young Deaf person, and Faith, a young Blind person, be able to follow Akeh’s lead and learn to use their superpowers to save the day?
This Ability features live young actors with disabilities performing with animated backgrounds on film. As the story follows each of the three characters in turn, a different style is used to represent each of their journeys from the point of view of their very special disability. Fun, fast-paced action and striking artwork convey the distinct ways our heroes/sheroes experience the world, challenging perceptions of what it means to be a hero.
This Ability is the third production to emerge from Chicago Children’s Theatre’s new works incubator, the Springboard Project.
CCTv: Virtual Theater and Learning from Chicago Children’s Theatre
The Relocation of Nokwsi and This Ability join Chicago Children’s Theatre’s roster of free digital resources on its new YouTube channel CCTv: Virtual Theatre and Learning from Chicago Children’s Theatre.
Here, kids enjoy highly entertaining original programs created by Chicago theater artists, like toy theater productions of Leo Lionni’s Fredrerick read by Michael Shannon, Doll Face Has a Party! by Brian Selznik (The Invention of Hugo Cabret), and Diamond’s Dream by Jerrell L. Henderson and Caitlin McLeod.
Look for virtual co-productions with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a deep play list of short “how to” theater craft, performance and dance videos hosted by CCT teaching artists, along with adorable virtual productions created by students enrolled in Chicago Children’s Theatre’s classes and camps.
More Walkie Talkies audio adventure tours of Chicago neighborhoods
Pop in your ear buds and lace up your sneakers, because Chicago Children’s Theatre plans to release more free episodes of its popular Walkie Talkies Chicago neighborhood adventure series.
Chicago Children’s Theatre started producing Walkie Talkies podcasts in fall 2020 to give kids, families, classrooms and summer camps a way to go outside and do something fun together, while giving Chicago theater makers paid work creating and producing story-based audio tours for children.
Original episodes available to download right now include explorations of South Shore, Bronzeville, Little Village, Humboldt Park, North Park Nature Center in Lincoln Park and Horner Park in Irving Park. Look for more new episodes, including tours of Chinatown and Bridgeport, to be released throughout 2021-22.
Walkie Talkies are free (with a suggested donation to Chicago Children’s Theatre). Each pod runs under one hour and comes with a walking map to guide kids, families and field trips on their journey, photos of tour highlights, vocabulary keys, recommended reading lists and more.
Go to www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org/event/walkie-talkies to download and enjoy Walkie Talkies on a variety of platforms including Apple iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and Google Podcasts.
Fall in-person classes
Chicago Children’s Theatre’s education program continues to expand, with nearly 20 classes in the performing arts for children 0-14. Classes this fall range from improv, musical theater, puppetry and tumbling, to how to create a podcast, plus a special series of Red Kite classes for children on the autism spectrum. Classes run for eight weeks, and are offered in different age groups.
New this fall, Chicago Children’s Theatre will also offer improv and musical theater classes at the Menomonee Club Drucker Center, 1350 N. Dayton Ave. in Lincoln Park.
Classes do sell out, so learn more and register early for classes in the West Loop or Lincoln Park at chicagochildrenstheatre.org/classes.
School’s Out Day Camps
Parents, avoid the inevitable daycare gap this school year by visiting chicagochildrenstheatre.org/day-camps and registering your child for a high-energy, one-day camp at Chicago Children’s Theatre.
Camps for kids grades K-5 are already scheduled on the following CPS non-attendance days in 2021-22:
- October 11 (Indigenous People’s Day)
- November 5 (School Improvement Day)
- November 11 (Veteran’s Day)
- January 17 (Martin Luther King Day)
- January 28 (School Improvement Day)
- February 21 (Presidents’ Day)
- May 30 (Memorial Day)
Note: Chicago Children’s Theatre offers financial aid and scholarships for students who are in need for classes and camps. Learn more at chicagochildrenstheatre.org/education.
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 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. CCT 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 January 2017, the company celebrated the opening of its new, permanent home, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, located at 100 S. Racine Avenue in Chicago’s West Loop community. The building, formerly the Chicago Police Station for the 12th District, was repurposed into a beautiful, LEED Gold-certified, mixed-use performing arts, education and community engagement facility that now welcomes all Chicago families.
CCT provides tens of thousands of free and reduced-price tickets to under-resourced schools each season in partnership with Chicago Public Schools. CCT also continues to grow its performing arts and STEAM education programs, offering classes, workshops, winter and spring break camps, and summer camps for ages 0 to 14.
In 2019, Chicago Children’s Theatre won the National TYA Artistic Innovation Award from Theatre for Young Audiences/USA. In addition, Chicago Children’s Theatre has garnered six NEA Art Works grants, and in 2017, became the first theater for young audiences in the U.S. to win a National Theatre Award from the American Theatre Wing, creators of the Tony Awards.
Chicago Children’s Theatre’s 2021-22 Season of Resilience is supported by Goldman Sachs, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The Ralla Klepak Foundation for Education in the Performing Arts, The Shubert Foundation, Polk Bros Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity and the Arts at Prince, Bayless Family Foundation, The Crown Family, Rea Charitable Trust, ComEd, US Bank, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Illinois Arts Council, Illinois Humanities Council, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), The Susan M. Venturi Fund in memory of James and Roslyn Marks to Support Theatre Education Accession, 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 chicagochildrenstheatre.org.