FREDERICK, THE SELFISH GIANT & More Set for Chicago Children's Theatre's 2014-15 Season

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FREDERICK, THE SELFISH GIANT & More Set for Chicago Children's Theatre's 2014-15 Season

Two world premiere children's musicals helmed by A-list Chicago theater artists - Leo Lionni's Frederick, directed by Stuart Carden, and Wonderland, Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure, co-created by Michael Mahler and Rachel Rockwell, were announced today as the opening and closing productions of Chicago Children's Theatre's 2014-15 season. Chicago Children's Theatre (CCT) will also celebrate its 10th birthday season by bringing back its 2008 smash hit The Selfish Giant by Blair Thomas and Michael Smith.

Chicago Children's Theatre has already launched an early bird pre-sale today for 2014-15 Family Membership Passes offering a 30 percent discount on all three plays next season. This pre-sale special runs through June 15. On June 16, standard Family Membership Passes will still offer 20 percent off single tickets and come with all of the flexibility and perks of this unique subscription plan. Single tickets go on sale August 15.

To purchase a Family Pass, single tickets, or for information on discounted group rates for schools, playgroups, birthday parties and scouting groups visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (872)-222-9555.

All of CCT's 2014-15 season productions will be presented at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn St., Chicago.

Leo Lionnni's Frederick
A world premiere musical based on the book by Leo Lionni

Adapted for the stage by Suzanne Miller
Songs by Sarah Durkee and Paul Jacobs
Directed by Stuart Carden
October 15-November 16, 2014; Press opening Friday, October 17 at 7 p.m.
For ages 3 and up

First up next fall is Leo Lionni's Frederick, a world premiere musical based on beloved children's author Leo Lionni's Caldecott Award-winning book about Frederick the mouse. Stuart Carden, the Chicago-based director and new play specialist responsible for Writers Theatre's wildly acclaimed The Old Man and The Old Moon with PigPen Theatre Co., will make his CCT debut with this new family musical, adapted for the stage by Suzanne Miller, featuring songs by Sarah Durkee and Paul Jacobs.

While other mice are gathering food for the winter, Frederick daydreams the summer away. When dreary weather comes, it is Frederick who has stored up something special for the long cold winter. The classic, much-loved early reading book celebrates the idea that there is a place for all of us in this world.

In Chicago Children's Theatre's hands, Frederick is getting a decidedly raucous and playful adaptation via a new musical featuring six actor-musicians playing spirited folk and blues music. The world of Frederick will also feature an inventive, homemade, do-it-yourself, trunk show style of production that will be highly physical and transforms ordinary objects and everyday ideas into the extraordinary.

Stuart Carden (director) is a Chicago-based freelance director and new play specialist. Currently, he is continuing to develop The Old Man and The Old Moon with PigPen Theatre Co. which will play this summer at Williamstown Theatre Festival building on the acclaimed 2013 production at Writers Theatre in Glencoe.

Suzanne Miller's (book) plays include Young Love, Flirting with the Deep End, Beatrice, The Handwriting, The Soup and The Hats, and Abigail's Atlas. Sarah Durkee (lyrics) and Paul Jacobs (music) previously teamed on music for National Lampoon and Meat Loaf, and have written Emmy-winning songs for Sesame Street and Between the Lions.

The Selfish Giant
Based on the story by Oscar Wilde

Created by Blair Thomas and Michael Smith
Directed by Blair Thomas
January 23-February 22, 2015; Press opening Friday, January 23, 6:30 p.m.
All Ages

January marks the return of the all-ages hit show The Selfish Giant, a musical spectacle created for CCT in 2008 by two Chicago theater icons - master puppeteer Blair Thomas and singer-songwriter Michael Smith - based on Oscar Wilde's classic story about a grumpy giant who forbids children from playing in his garden.

After the children are locked out, the trees and flowers refuse to grow and the garden plunges into an eternal winter. Then one morning, the children sneak back into the garden, bringing with them the joyous rebirth of spring. Featuring original puppets and music, The Selfish Giant is enormously imaginative, gigantically whimsical, and is sure to thrill children and giants of all ages.

Note: Opening weekend performances of The Selfish Giant are also among the culminating weekend events for the new Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, which runs January 16-25 at multiple venues throughout Chicago. The Selfish Giant will then continue its full run through February 22, 2015.

Blair Thomas co-founded Chicago's Redmoon Theater in 1989, where he served as artistic director and co-artistic director until 1998. He founded his current company Blair Thomas & Company in 2002. In addition to The Selfish Giant, Thomas also directed and created sets and puppets for CCT's 2012 hit world premiere The Houdini Box.

Chicago folk music legend Michael Smith is well known for writing "The Dutchman," popularized by Steve Goodman. His stage work includes The Snow Queen at Victory Gardens Theater, and the score for Steppenwolf's Broadway production of The Grapes of Wrath.

Wonderland, Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure
Based on the books Alice in Wonderland and Through the Lookingglass by Lewis Carroll

Book by Rachel Rockwell and Lewis Carroll
Music by Michael Mahler
Lyrics by Michael Mahler and Rachel Rockwell
Directed by Rachel Rockwell
April 22-May 24, 2015; Press opening Friday, April 24 at 7 p.m.
Ages 7 and up

Kids, parents, grandparents and school groups, get ready to rock. Wonderland, Alice's Rock & Roll Adventure, a new family musical created by top Chicago director Rachel Rockwell and music director Michael Mahler, is Chicago Children's Theatre's second world premiere in 2014-15, and its big season finale.

Chicago's theater scene promises to get curiouser and curiouser when this powerhouse duo of A-list Chicago theater artists, both making their CCT debut, boldly reimagine Lewis Carroll's books Alice in Wonderland and Through the Lookingglass.

Wonderland is the search for one's authentic self. How can you march to the beat of your own drummer when you're still writing the song? Carroll's beloved, poetic tale of self-actualization is brought to life by a cast of actor/musicians who create an eclectic rock soundtrack as 7-1/2 year-old Alice searches for her own inner musical voice.

Ranging from classic rock to punk to ska with a little bit of Bollywood, the actors surround Alice in a rich musical tapestry as she searches for her destiny. Along the way, Alice faces challenges and fears, but meets the ultimate test in the form of the Jabberwocky, an insidious monster made of up of the dark thoughts and self-doubt that lurks inside of us all. In learning to believe in the impossible, Alice learns to believe in herself.

Rachel Rockwell (director) was named the Chicago Tribune's "Chicagoan of the Year in Theatre" in 2012 and Chicago Magazine's "Best Director" in 2010. Select credits include Ragtime and The Sound of Music at Drury Lane Oakbrook, Annie and In the Heights at the Paramount, and Shrek The Musical, Beauty and the Beast, The Emperor's New Clothes and The Adventures of Pinocchio at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Rockwell also makes her Goodman Theatre directing debut this summer with Brigadoon.

Michael Mahler (music director) is the Jeff Award-winning composer/lyricist of Hero, How Can You Run with a Shell on Your Back?, Knute Rockne: All-American, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, Painted Alice, The 9/11 Report, The Main Street Kids Club and others.

New Later Stages series for older kids returns with The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights

In addition to its three-show mainstage season, CCT continues its new Later Stages series for older kids ages 8 and up with a presentation of The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights, produced by Writers Theatre, written by Yolanda Androzzo. Press opening is Saturday, January 24, 2015 at 6 p.m. Weekday school performances continue through February 6, with an additional Saturday evening performance for family audiences on Saturday, January 31 at 6 p.m.

The MLK Project is a one-woman show that follows a Chicago student's personal transformation through studying the Civil Rights Movement. Alaya uses her fists as an outlet for anger, but after interviewing local heroes of the Movement she discovers she can put "anger into action" and that her power is in her voice and her hip hop, not violence.

Weaving together real interviews, poetry, hip hop, history and multi-media projections the performance features stories of both celebrated and unsung Chicago-based Civil Rights Activists including Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles, who was present on the evening Dr. King was killed; poet and artist Dr. Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs, who founded the DuSable Museum of African American History; Reverend Jesse Jackson, longtime fighter for social justice; and Puerto Rican poet and activist David Hernandez.

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