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Joe Iconis' DIARY OF A WIMPY KID Musical & More Will Premiere at Minneapolis' Children's Theatre Company

Children's Theatre Company (CTC) celebrates 50 years as the flagship theatre for multigenerational audiences in North America with a mix of celebratory events and a continued commitment to creating new work for young audiences with a theatrical season that includes five premieres. Hailed by Time Magazine as the number one theatre for families in the nation, CTC celebrates 50 years of creating exciting new works for young audiences that have been in Beijing, Moscow, Tokyo, Canada, Scotland, most of the United States and Broadway; of being the largest and most honored theatre for multigenerational audiences in North America; and the being only theatre for young audiences to receive a Tony Award for sustained excellence.

"We see it as our challenge, our responsibility, and truly, our joy to create innovative theatre experiences for young audiences on our stages, in our classrooms, and in our community. Over the last five decades, Children's Theatre Company has been dedicated to defining a new standard of excellence. Not only does this include creating over 200 new plays for young audiences, but also sustaining a full-time Acting Company, and developing the next generation of performers through our Performing Apprentice program," stated CTC Artistic Director Peter C. Brosius.

He continues, "Our ground-breaking and highly-regarded Neighborhood Bridges program has expanded to over a dozen communities across the country and has been replicated internationally. A leader in early childhood education and the arts, CTC's dedication to early learning permeates the organization with theatrical performances designed for preschoolers and the Early Bridges program for ages 2-5. Our 50th Anniversary celebrates all of these extraordinary accomplishments while calling us to forge an ever stronger, more vibrant future."

The 2015- 2016 Anniversary Season encompasses a blend of reimagined classic stories and inspiring new works. Adapted from the critically-lauded film, Akeelah and the Bee has Broadway director Charles Randolph-Wright making his CTC debut in this tale about a young girl harnessing her talent for spelling in order to overcome adversity in a tough neighborhood. Followed by a new Jungle Book brought to stunning life through director Greg Banks' unique style which emphasizes the sheer virtuosity of the actors. Next, experience the power of finding your place in the world with the return of the much-celebrated and critically-acclaimed Wizard of Oz. Direct from New York, multimedia, music and a classic tale with a modern twist collide in The Frog Bride, an enthralling performance by award-winning master storyteller David Gonzalez. The Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats captures the epic struggles and profound victories of a child's life in vivid color and shadow through the unparalleled design of Italy's puppetry master Fabrizio Montecchi. Animal Dance engages preschoolers in their own language, one of gesture and movement, all conceived and performed by nationally-acclaimed dancer and performance artist Ann Carlson. Finishing the season is the highly-anticipated musical adaptation of Jeff Kinney's beloved series Diary of a Wimpy Kid, from acclaimed Chicago director Rachel Rockwell.

Peter C. Brosius continues, "This season, we bring nationally and internationally celebrated artists to the theatre, some of whom have never made work for this audience, to lend their creativity and passion. Whether it's through the director's vision, the actors' craft, or redefining the language of theatre through dance or puppetry, we shaped this season to be alive, powerful, contemporary, and filled with theatrical surprises."

Akeelah and the Bee - Premiere
Adapted for the Stage by Cheryl L. West
Based on the Original Screenplay by Doug Atchison
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright
September 1 - October 11, 2015
UnitedHealth Group Stage

Akeelah has a crazy passion for words: the more abstruse and labyrinthine, the better. But this gift is almost overwhelmed by the challenge of her daily life in a tough, dangerous Chicago neighborhood, and by Akeelah's yearning for a different life. The first theatrical adaptation of the critically-acclaimed film is directed by Charles Randolph-Wright and captures all the hope and spirit of the original story in an inspiring tale of a community united behind one little girl's dream. Akeelah and the Bee will also be featured in La Jolla Playhouse's DNA New Work Series and will travel to a major regional theatre following its run at CTC.

"I am thrilled to be directing Akeelah and the Bee for CTC's 50th Anniversary Season - it is a compelling, lively, and important story that resonates right now. I love this play, I love this theatre, and I am excited for Minneapolis to take Akeelah's journey." - Charles Randolph-Wright

The Jungle Book - Premiere
Based on the Book by Rudyard Kipling
Adapted and directed by Greg Banks
September 29 - December 6, 2015
Cargill Stage

Mowgli is rambunctious and curious, scrappy and silly. Sound like a kid you know? This new adaptation of the beloved Rudyard Kipling story finds a child lost in the Indian jungle, where he is adopted by Baloo the Bear, Bagheera the panther, and all the beasts who call the mysterious wilderness home. Our fast-paced retelling keeps you perched on the edge of your seat as young Mowgli comes face-to-face with sneaky monkeys, noisy vultures and his mortal enemy: the tiger, Shere Kahn.

"I couldn't be more excited to be working on The Jungle Book at CTC and especially as part of the 50th Anniversary Season. I've had the privilege of working with CTC on some of my favorite projects and I can't wait to see what we can do with this timeless story about finding out where you truly belong." -Greg Banks

The Wizard of Oz
By L. Frank Baum
With Music and Lyrics by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg
Background Music by Herbert Stothart
Dance and Vocal Arrangements by Peter Howard
Orchestration by Larry Wilcox
Adapted by John Kane for the Royal Shakespeare Company
Based upon the Classic Motion Picture owned by Turner Entertainment Co.
and distributed in all media by Warner Bros.
Directed by Peter C. Brosius
November 3, 2015 - January 3, 2016
UnitedHealth Group Stage

And... we're off! The songs, the costumes, the wonder of it all - together again in a holiday extravaganza that nobody can resist. Our production pulls out all the stops to take the beloved L. Frank Baum story to dizzying heights, with a cast of munchkins, monkeys and four friends in the pursuit of courage, a brain, a heart and a home. Take the whole family on a fairytale musical trip over the rainbow - and yes, Toto too.

"This is a piece that touches all of our hearts as it dives so deeply into what the idea of home truly means. I love this powerful story of a young Dorothy as she faces extraordinary obstacles, makes incredible allies and finds new strengths along the way. This is my first time directing this show and I simply can't wait to get started." - Peter C. Brosius

The Frog Bride
Written, Conceived, and Performed by David Gonzalez
Directed by Lenard Petit
Music by Sergei Prokofiev and Daniel Kelly
Video Design by Matyas Keleman
Lighting Design by David Lander
January 12 - February 28, 2016
Cargill Stage

When a king sends his three sons to find their brides, two return with fair ladies but the youngest returns with...A FROG?! Acclaimed storyteller David Gonzalez masterfully weaves this classic Russian folk tale with a rich, multimedia experience using video projections, live musicians and an original jazz-funk score. The Frog Bride has everything you need for a rousing tale - a royal ball, a curse, a broken heart and the search for true love - performed with an energetic and skillful modern twist in what The New York Times calls "absorbing, funny and suspenseful, it is, in the great tradition of storytelling, enchanting."

"I am thrilled to be included in Children's Theatre Company's 50th Anniversary Season. The Frog Bride has everything I love in stories; great characters and settings, a truly troublesome problem, a quest, and the unearthing of wisdom. I feel is a perfect fit for CTC audiences." -David Gonzalez

The Snowy Day
And Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats -Premiere
By Jerome Hairston
Based on the Books by Ezra Jack Keats
Directed by Peter C. Brosius
February 9 - March 20, 2016
UnitedHealth Group Stage

The wonder of a fresh snowfall, the delight of that first successful whistle, the awe in finding a special treasure: Ezra Jack Keats had a gift for capturing the rapturous joy in a child's day-to-day life. In this new staging of Keats' beloved works with puppet design by Italy's renowned Teatro Gioco Vita, director Peter C. Brosius brings the little boy in the red coat to enthralling life. Revisit Keats' treasured stories in this wholly original theatrical adaptation.

"Ezra Jack Keats was a master at capturing the tiny details of a child's life, the epic struggles and the glorious little victories that mean so much. He made the urban landscape of his childhood a vibrant and enchanting world as only a child could see it. His brilliant images remind us all what it is like to be a child with open eyes and huge hearts." - Peter C. Brosius

Animal Dance -Premiere
Choreographed and Directed by Ann Carlson with Peter C. Brosius
March 22 - May 1, 2016
Cargill Stage

What do kids (baby goats) and kids (not-so-baby people) have in common? World-renowned choreographer and performance artist Ann Carlson will dance her way to the answer with the help of some curious goats and their animal buddies in this brand-new piece developed specifically with preschoolers' interests and attention spans in mind. It's a story of the similarities we share with our animal friends in the quest for self-expression and ultimately, understanding. So stomp your hooves, clap your paws and expect the unexpected.

"I'm so honored to be working with CTC during their 50th Anniversary Season to develop this work for our most important audiences. This piece aims to look inside that wonderful connection of humans to the animal world. It's sure to surprise!" - Ann Carlson

Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical -Premiere
Based on the book by Jeff Kinney
Music and Lyrics by Joe Iconis
Book by Joe Tracz
Directed by Rachel Rockwell
Produced by special arrangement with Fox Stage Productions and Kevin McCollum
April 12 - June 5, 2016
UnitedHealth Group Stage

Greg Heffley is in survival mode. All. The. Time. From bullies to his big brother to his height-challenged stature, he's the wimpy kid we can all relate to. The beloved series hits the stage in a brand-new musical with Rowley, Manny, and of course, Rodrick joining in the mayhem. A ridiculous amount of fun for anyone who has survived, is surviving, or hopes to survive middle school, inspired by the award-winning and bestselling book series.

"I am thrilled to be collaborating with Children's Theatre Company on a musical stage adaptation of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. To see my stories and characters come to life and set to music is exciting and I can't wait to see Greg Heffley and his family take the stage." - Jeff Kinney

The 50th Anniversary Season is sponsored by 3M, Ameriprise Financial, Target, KNOCK, inc. and United Health Foundation.

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