Chicago Children's Theatre to Offer Autism-Friendly Performance of A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD, 11/1
Critics are loving, packed houses are jumping to their feet, and weekend performances are starting to sell out of Chicago Children's Theatre's family musical A Year with Frog and Toad, now playing at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago through November 24.
However, that hasn't stopped CCT from taking the Friday, November 1, 6 p.m. performance off public sale.
Rather, the entire house that evening is reserved exclusively for families with children on the autism spectrum. Why? To provide a safe, welcoming, judgment-free environment for families who typically don't get the chance to enjoy live theater, where nobody will need to worry if a child gets loud or active during the show.
All seats to Chicago Children's Theatre Autism-Friendly performance of A Year with Frog and Toad are $25. To reserve and for more information, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (872) 222-9555.
A Year with Frog and Toad is the Tony-nominated musical based on the beloved children's book series by Arnold Lobel. The play follows two best friends - the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad - through four, fun-filled seasons of planting gardens, swimming in ponds, raking each other's leaves, and sledding together down snowy hills. Along the way, Frog and Toad sing, dance, learn life lessons and rejoice in their differences that make them unique and special.
Several days before attending, parents will receive a "Social Story" - a brief preview of A Year with Frog and Toad that also walks their children through the experience of attending live theater to help minimize pre-show anxiety. When they arrive to the theater on November 1st, every audience member will be greeted by specially trained, caring Chicago Children's Theatre staff and artists whose mission will be to make each child feel comfortable, safe and welcome. That evening's show will be modulated down a bit in terms of sound and light, and a quiet room will be nearby just in case. Still, based on experience, CCT is confident the musical's highly visual nature, comic moments and gentle life lessons will delight and wholly engage this very special audience.
CCT piloted its first Autism-Friendly mainstage performance last spring with The Elephant and The Whale, introducing Chicago to a trend toward barrier-free theater for families with children with autism that started on Broadway with Autism-Friendly performances of The Lion King and Mary Poppins.
"We modeled the Broadway productions, and built on years of our own experience via CCT's Red Kite Project, our ongoing series of carefully crafted theatrical experiences for children with autism, to create Chicago's first-ever Autism-Friendly mainstage production with The Elephant and The Whale," explained Jacqueline Russell, Artistic Director, Chicago Children's Theatre.
"That inaugural effort proved to be a wonderful success," she added. "The kids were absolutely captivated by the show, and their parents were so grateful to have the opportunity to bring their children to experience live theater without fretting about the reactions of fellow audience members. We can't wait to do it again."
A Year with Frog and Toad is recommended for ages 4 and up. The production is directed by Henry Godinez, a resident artist at the Goodman, and stars Karl Hamilton as Frog, Mark David Kaplan as Toad, with Christine Bunuan, Brittani Arlandis Green and Shawn Pfautsch as their menagerie of animal friends.
Chicago Parent Magazine recommends "If you're going to pick just one children's production this season to attend, it should be A Year with Frog and Toad at the Chicago Children's Theatre." The Chicago Tribune awarded the musical three stars, calling it "a peach of a show...Frog and Toad leaps from the stage."
Public and school performances continue though November 24 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn, Chicago. To purchase tickets, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (872) 222-9555. For group rates, visit GroupTix.net or call (773) 327-3778.
In addition to the November 1st Autism-Friendly performance of A Year with Frog and Toad, CCT will also present its second Autism-Friendly performance this season on Friday, February 14 at 6 pm, with the world premiere of Mr. Chickee's Funny Money.
Chicago Children's Theatre's Autism-Friendly performances are supported by a grant from The Field Foundation, and are presented in partnership with the League of Chicago Theatres.
Photo by Charles Osgood