A live theatrical adaptation of “Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas” is making its Chicago debut this holiday season at the Studebaker Theater at the historic Fine Arts Building, 410 South Michigan Avenue. Based on the beloved television special originally created by the legendary puppeteer Jim Henson, this new family-friendly musical features music and lyrics by Paul Williams (The Muppet Movie), with book by lead producer Timothy Allen McDonald (Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach) and director/choreographer Christopher Gattelli (Newsies). Packed with puppets created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is a heartwarming celebration of the true spirit of the holidays. Performances begin this November.
Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is a theatrical adaptation of the Jim Henson Television Special and is based on the illustrated book Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban. The acclaimed musical premiered at Goodspeed Opera House in 2008 and played Off-Broadway at the New Victory Theater in December of 2021.
The music and lyrics for Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas are written by the legendary Paul Williams, the recipient of an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards and three Grammy Awards. His songs "The Rainbow Connection" and “Evergreen" are included in the American Film Institute's List of Top Movie Songs of All Time. The New York Times called Williams’s score for Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas “as playful as it is heart-whole beautiful.”
The book is co-written by lead producer Timothy Allen McDonald (Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, Between The Lines, and The Book Thief) and director/choreographer Christopher Gattelli (Tony Award Winner for his Newsies choreography, and choreographer of SpongeBob the Musical and AppleTV+’s Schmigadoon!). Of the 2021 run, The New York Times hailed “the message, which celebrates fellow feeling and mutual care, is especially welcome right now,” while Hollywood Soapbox called it “an important staple of any holiday season.”
Scenic design for Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas is by three-time Tony nominee Anna Louizos (In The Heights, High Fidelity, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood), with costume design by two-time Tony winner Gregg Barnes (Follies and The Drowsy Chaperone), lighting design by Obie Award winner and Tony Nominee Jen Schriever (Death of a Salesman and A Strange Loop), and sound design is by Emmy Award winner Matt Kraus (“Disney's Broadway Hits at Royal Hall”). The New York Times raved of the production “the sets are charming and transporting, the costumes elegant.”
The Jim Henson Company has remained a leader in family entertainment for over 60 years and is recognized as an innovator in puppetry, animatronics, and digital animation. Henson’s most recent television credits include “Duff’s Happy Fun Bake Time” for discovery+, “Earth to Ned” for Disney+, “Fraggle Rock: Rock On!” For Apple TV+ and the Emmy Award-winning Netflix Original series “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.” The Company is currently in production on the upcoming series “Harriet the Spy” and a reboot of “Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock,” both for Apple TV+, as well as Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pinocchio” for Netflix, and the feature film “The Portable Door.”
It’s three days before Christmas and Mayor Fox has just announced a Christmas talent contest with a grand prize of fifty dollars! Meanwhile, times are tough for Ma and Emmet Otter since Pa passed away, and winning that prize money would allow them to secretly buy each other a Christmas gift. Emmet considers forming a jug-band with his friends, but in order to do that he’ll have to put a hole in Ma’s washtub. The problem is, Ma earns money by doing other folks’ laundry in the washtub. Ma thinks about hocking Pa’s old toolbox so she can make a costume for the contest, but Emmet uses those tools to do odd jobs. As Christmas Eve and the talent contest quickly approach, will Ma and Emmet sacrifice what little they have, or will their Christmas wishes come true?
Single tickets will go on sale in July at the Studebaker Theatre box office (410 South Michigan Avenue), fineartsbuilding.com/studebaker/, and 312-753-3210. Family-friendly pricing will be available. Group reservations (8 or more people) are currently available through Group Tix and Tours at www.grouptixandtours.com.
Follow Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok at EmmetOtterLive and Facebook at EmmetOtterOfficial. The official website is www.EmmetOtterLive.com.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
PAUL WILLIAMS (he/him, Composer/Lyricist) – Lyricist and composer Paul Williams has won an Oscar, two Golden Globe Awards, three Grammys, an Ivor Novello, and has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. "The Rainbow Connection" and “Evergreen" grace the American Film Institute's List of Top Movie Songs of All Time. His song scores include The Muppet Movie and The Muppet Christmas Carol, Bugsy Malone, Ishtar, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, and Phantom of the Paradise. Writing with Gustavo Santaolalla for the animated film, The Book of Life, Williams received a World Soundtrack Award for their “Apology Song" and the pair recently co-wrote "If It's To Be" for “Maya and The Three.” As President and Chairman of the Board of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Paul Williams is also a leading spokesman for music creators in the digital age.
TIMOTHY ALLEN MCDONALD (he/him, Lead Producer/Co-Book Writer) – Librettist credits: Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach (Benj Pasek, Justin Paul), Jim Henson's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (Paul Williams, Christopher Gattelli), Between The Lines (Elyssa Samsel, Kate Anderson), Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka (Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley), The Big One-Oh! (Dean Pitchford, Doug Besterman), The Book Thief (Jodi Picoult, Elyssa Samsel, Kate Anderson) and Breathe (inducted into the Library of Congress representing musical theatre authors' response to the COVID-19 pandemic). Tim is also the Founder of Junior Theater Festivals and Founder and CEO of iTheatrics, which adapts musicals for performance by young people all over the globe. 36 million people attend performances of these adapted musicals annually in North America - three times the annual audience for Broadway shows. iTheatrics adaptations are licensed by Concord Theatricals (Youth Edition musicals) and Music Theatre International (Broadway Junior musicals).
CHRISTOPHER GATTELLI (he/him, Director/Choreographer/Co-Book Writer) received the 2012 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his choreography of Newsies. Additional Broadway choreography credits include The King and I, SpongeBob the Musical, My Fair Lady, South Pacific, Sunday in the Park with George, The Cher Show, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Casa Valentina, Amazing Grace, Godspell, The Ritz, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me, 13, and High Fidelity. Christopher choreographed South Pacific and My Fair Lady at the Sydney Opera House, directed and choreographed Silence! The Musical Off-Broadway, Jim Henson's Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (Goodspeed), Departure Lounge (The Public Theater) and In Your Arms (New York Stage and Film and The Old Globe). Other select Off-Broadway credits: Altar Boyz, Bat Boy: The Musical, and Dogfight. West End and London credits include South Pacific, Sunday in the Park with George, and tick, tick...BOOM! Christopher's choreography is currently featured on the Apple TV+ musical comedy series “Schmigadoon!”, and TBS' “Miracle Brothers.” Christopher choreographed the Coen brothers' film Hail, Caesar! as well as Warner Brothers' Isn't It Romantic. Upcoming: the Netflix animated feature film The Monkey King, and Wonka.
ANNA LOUIZOS (she/her, Scenic Design) is a three-time Tony Award nominated set designer. Broadway: School of Rock (sets and costumes), In the Heights, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Avenue Q, Holiday Inn, Honeymoon in Vegas, Cinderella, Dames at Sea, It Shoulda Been You, White Christmas and Holiday Inn, High Fidelity, Curtains, and others. Selected Off Broadway: Roundabout, Public, MTC, Is There Still Sex in the City?, tick tick... Boom, Altar Boyz, and others. Art Director: Sex and the City.
GREGG BARNES (he/him, Costume Design) – Broadway: Some Like It Hot (Tony nomination), Pretty Woman, Mean Girls (Tony nomination), Tuck Everlasting (Tony nomination), Something Rotten! (Tony nomination), Aladdin, Kinky Boots (Tony nomination, Olivier Award), Follies (Tony Award, Drama Desk Award), Legally Blonde (Tony nomination), The Drowsy Chaperone (Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, Olivier nomination), To Be Or Be Not To Be, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Flower Drum Song (Tony nomination), Side Show. Other: Dreamgirls (Olivier nomination), Pageant (Olivier nomination). TDF Young Master Award. Faculty NYU Undergraduate Drama 1983-2002.
JEN SCHRIEVER (she/her, Lighting Design) – Broadway: Death of a Salesman, 1776, A Strange Loop, Birthday Candles, Lackawanna Blues, What the Constitution Means to Me, Grand Horizons, Lifespan of a Fact, Eclipsed, Ghetto Klown. Off-Broadway: Selling Kabul, A Strange Loop (Playwrights); Power Strip (LCT3); Superhero (2ST); What the Constitution Means to Me (NYTW); Thom Pain, Night is a Room (Signature); Collective Rage, School Girls…. (MCC); Usual Girls, Bobbie Clearly, On the Exhale (Roundabout); Dan Cody’s Yacht (MTC). Opera: Die Fledermaus (MET); Pearl Fishers (ENO). Adjunct: Purchase College.
MATT KRAUS (he/him, Sound Design) – Broadway: Liza's at the Palace..., Kristin Chenoweth: My Love Letter to Broadway, Kathy Griffin Wants a Tony. Off Broadway: Caucasian Chalk Circle, 50 Shades! The Musical, Fat Camp, Lone Star Love, Cam Jansen, Voca People. Audio Coordinator for remote shoots of “The Tonight Show” and NBAs “2020 Bubble.” Regional: Paper Mill Playhouse, St. Louis Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Walnut Street, Ogunquit Playhouse, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival. Sound Designer for the iTheatrics Junior Theatre Festival 2008-2022. Matt has won an Emmy Award for his work as Sound Designer on “Disney's Broadway Hits at Royal Hall” which he has toured around the world.