Chicago Children's Theatre and Redmoon Present THE ELEPHANT AND THE WHALE, Beginning 4/10

Chicago Children's Theatre and Redmoon Present THE ELEPHANT AND THE WHALE, Beginning 4/10

Chicago Children's Theatre Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell has announced the company's 2012-13 season finale, a world premiere collaboration with Redmoon's Frank Maugeri to create The Elephant and The Whale.

This all-new family fable features sea voyages, wild mechanical objects, circus songs, panoramic paintings, exquisite shadow puppets and an innovative sound design. Performances are April 10-May 26, 2013 at Chicago Children's Theatre's new home, the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, Chicago. Press opening is Friday, April 12 at 7 p.m.

Single tickets start at $25, and are on sale now. To purchase, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (872) 222-9555. For group rates, visit GroupTix.net or call (773) 327-3778. The Elephant and The Whale is recommended for all ages.

The year is 1919, and it's the end of an era for a beloved circus elephant named Ella. When a nefarious new owner takes over the homegrown Hoogebeck Family show, Ella the star elephant discovers an unexpected new animal in the circus: a landlocked and homesick baby whale. What happens next is a unique story of friendship and adventure spanning species, rivers, railroads and nautical miles.

A spectacle in miniature, The Elephant and The Whale is an epic tale about that invites audiences of all ages to discover the majesty of the largest animals on our planet, and a story of friendship conquering all obstacles. This must-see family show is conceived by Frank Maugeri, with an original story by Seth Bockley, Leslie Buxbaum Danzig, and Frank Maugeri, and script and songs by Seth Bockley with composer Kevin O'Donnell. The Elephant and The Whale is directed by Leslie Buxbaum Danzig (of 500 Clown) and Maugeri.

Kurt Brocker, David Catlin, Kasey Foster and Becky Poole form the four-person cast who together will weave this fantastical tale while cranking audio devices, pedaling panoramic painting apparatuses, manipulating shadow puppet sequences and singing folk-inflected songs. A nickelodeon-like, three-horned gramophone machine, coin operated by the performers, has been specially designed to play the music for the production. After each performance, audiences will have the chance to interact with the artists and get an up close look at the set, props, puppets and mechanical apparatuses.

As for the show's all-ages appeal, creator Frank Maugeri explains "Seth Bockley's original story is simple, lyrical and comical in a Seuss-like style which will appeal to younger kids. Yet the images by illustrator Matt Cipov, Mike Coon, and Andrea Everman live in a world of vintage cartoons and Monty Python and will speak to older kids. My co-director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig also brings a mature direction of the performers and clowns. Her work can often be both simultaneously funny and absurd to kids and even very complex and, at moments, dark, which definitely furthers our goal to develop this show on two different planes."

During his 17 year tenure with Redmoon Maugeri 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 ritualcelebrations 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 remountand tour of Brazil.

Seth Bockley, the critically-acclaimed writer and adapter, is a playwright in residence at the Goodman Theater and an artist in residence at the University of Chicago. He 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) directed Redmoon's Hunchback at New Victory Theater (NYC). With Lucky Plush Productions, she co-created The Better Half, which premiered at MCA Chicago and is now touring throughout the U.S., and is developing a new dance-theater production that premieres in spring 2014. For 10 years, Danzig was resident director with 500 Clown.

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.

Cast member Kurt Brocker was most recently seen in American Wee-Pie at Rivendell, Welcome Home Jenny Sutter! at Next, The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later at Red Twist Theatre and The Farnsworth Invention at TimeLine.

David Catlin, founding ensemble member and former Artistic Director of Lookingglass Theatre, performed in The Arabian Nights, Our Town, Argonautika, Hard Times, and Manuscript Found in Saragossa at Lookingglass. Catlin also directed Lookingglass Alice, Icarus, Black Diamond (co-director), Metamorphosis, Her Name was Danger, The Idiot (Jeff Award), and Lookingglass Hamlet.

Kasey Foster is an ensemble member at Redmoon, where she has appeared in Winter Pageant 2010, Cape and Squiggle and Laika. She also played a dog in Adventure Stage Chicago's Gossamer.

As for Becky Poole, Chicago Children's Theatre audiences will fondly recall her hilarious turn as Mouse in Goodnight Moon in 2011. She also performed locally in The Hypocrites' Pirates of Penzance and her solo sketch show at iO Sit On My Lapse.

The production team for The Elephant and The Whale also includes John Musial (scenic design); Sarah Hughey (lighting design); Gillian Gryzlak (costume design); Liviu Pasare (projection design); and Andrea Everman (shadow puppet design). David A. Loranca is production stage manager.

The Elephant and Whale performance schedule

Previews of The Elephant and The Whale are Wednesday through Friday, April 10-12 at 10 a.m. Press opening is Friday, April 12 at 7 p.m. Performance times that weekend are Saturday, April 13 at 6 p.m.; and Sunday, April 14 at 11 a.m.

The regular performance schedule, April 16 through May 11, is Tuesday at 10 a.m.; Wednesday at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.; Thursday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Friday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Saturday at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.; and Sunday at 11 a.m.

Starting Sunday, May 12, a 2 p.m. matinee is added to the Sunday schedule, for the following expanded schedule through May 26: Tuesday at 10 a.m.; Wednesday at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.; Thursday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Friday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.; Saturday at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.; and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2p.m.

Run time is approximately 60 minutes with no intermission.

Note: Family-friendly 6:30 p.m. Thursday shows are preceded with a free pizza party starting at 5:45 pm. Thursday evenings are $25 for dinner and show. On Friday evenings, families are encouraged to kick off their weekend at the 6:30 p.m. show, and stay after for a fun post-show craft party. Friday evenings are $25 for show and party.

Regular single tickets are $26 for children, $36 for adults. To purchase, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (872) 222-9555. For discounted school, scout, playgroup, extended family and other group rates, visit GroupTix.net or call (773) 327-3778.

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