Cast & Creative Team Announced For CORDUROY, Directed By Amber Mak

The beloved children's books come to life in an imaginative 60-minute production directed by Amber Mak.

By: May. 17, 2024
Cast & Creative Team Announced For CORDUROY, Directed By Amber Mak
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In a continued commitment to introducing young audiences to the magic of live theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) will present Corduroy this summer.

Based on the cherished children's books Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman and adapted for the stage by Barry Kornhauser, this play had its world premiere at the Tony Award-winning Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis in 2018. Esteemed Chicago director Amber Mak returns to CST after last summer's smash-hit production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, bringing a wealth of experience directing shows for young audiences. This 60-minute production plays June 18–July 14, 2024 in the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater.

The cast of Corduroy features Jean Claudio in the title role, along with Celeste M. Cooper, Danielle Davis, Demetra Dee, Kat Harvey, and Ryan Huemmer.

Teddy bear Corduroy has discovered he's missing a button on his green overalls. Kindhearted Lisa is begging her mom to bring the bear home, but Corduroy must find his button first. Audiences follow Corduroy's rollicking and delightfully destructive journey through the department store as he searches high and low—up escalators, and to the top of a teetering store display. Following each performance, audiences have the opportunity to meet costumed members of the cast in the lobby for conversation, autographs, and photos.

“Corduroy has been a beloved book for over 50 years as an enduring, lovable story of friendship, home, and being accepted just as you are today,” says Mak. “I am excited to bring these characters from the book to life in a very fun, whimsical, and imaginative adventure that multi-generational audiences can experience together.”

Jean Claudio plays the title bear Corduroy. Claudio trained in circus and physical theater in Buenos Aires, before returning home to their native Puerto Rico to establish a theater company. They moved to Chicago to study in the Actors Gymnasium's Professional Circus Training Program in 2016 and have lived and worked in the city since. Credits include Lucha Teotl at Goodman Theatre, Dream King at Teatro Vista, and work with La Vuelta Ensemble, the Nouveau Sud Circus Project, Midnight Circus in the Parks, Filament Theatre, and Emerald City Theatre.

Demetra Dee plays Lisa, a young girl in search of a friend. Dee's credits include The Penelopiad and The Nacirema Society at Goodman Theatre, Chlorine Sky at Steppenwolf Theatre, along with work at Shattered Globe Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Timeline Theatre, and more. Celeste M. Cooper plays Lisa's Mother. Cooper is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre, where her many credits include POTUS and The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington. Other Chicago credits include work at Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Windy City Playhouse, and more.

Danielle Davis plays a night guard determined to stop Corduroy's journey through the department store. Davis returns to Chicago Shakespeare after appearing as Maria in last season's Twelfth Night, and her other CST credits include multiple Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks productions and Romeo and Juliet. Additional credits include Antigone at Court Theatre, performing the title role in Clyde's at Goodman Theatre, and many more. Kat Harvey and Ryan Huemmer play two clowns Corduroy encounters along his adventure. Harvey and Huemmer are aerialists and acrobats who make up Duo Refraction, a circus duo, and are both graduates of the Actors Gymnasium Professional Circus Training Program.

Understudies include Madie Doppelt, Sonia Goldberg, Kat Hoil, and Jada Jackson.

Director Amber Mak is one of Chicago's most sought-after directors. Mak's Chicago Shakespeare credits include directing and choreographing summer family productions of Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure, and choreographing the American premiere of Nell Gwynn. Her recent credits include the acclaimed production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella at Drury Lane Theatre and The Sound of Music, Rock of Ages, Hairspray, The Wizard of Oz (for which she received a Jeff Award nomination for Best Director), Disney's The Little Mermaid, and choreographing the world premiere, The Secret of My Success at Paramount Theatre, where she was the New Works Development Director for many years.

The creative team also includes Scenic Designer Jeffrey D. Kmiec, Costume Designer Christine Pascual, Lighting Designer Greg Hofmann, Video Designer Mike Tutaj, Sound Designer and Composer Satya Chavez, Assistant Director Jasmine B. Gunter, Casting by Alexis Taylor, Production Stage Manager Jennifer Aparicio, and Assistant Stage Manager Lili Bjorklund.

For multi-generational family audiences, Chicago Shakespeare Theater offers a theatergoing experience of the highest quality, introducing live performance to young hearts and minds and sparking a lifelong interest in the arts. CST has engaged hundreds of thousands of young people over the years through summer family productions, abridged Shakespeare plays, and performances in partnership with neighborhood arts organizations across the city.

CST is proud to partner on additional community engagement opportunities around the production:

  • Corduroy attendees can keep the fun going with a visit to the award-winning Chicago Children's Museum (CCM) on Navy Pier. Young audience members may present their child's ticket to redeem a free admission to CCM on the day of the performance, or at a return visit Monday–Thursday through September 30, 2024. On Wednesday, June 26 at 2:00 p.m., Chicago Children's Museum will host Storytime with Corduroy featuring members of the cast. Museum visitors are invited to bring their favorite stuffed animals to enjoy stories about friendship and belonging together.
  • On Saturday, June 29, Harry Caray's Tavern on Navy Pier will host a Teddy Bear Brunch, during which attendees can meet and take photos with the beloved characters while enjoying a special menu themed to the production.
  • Throughout the run, audiences are encouraged to bring a children's book to exchange at Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Little Free Library. Located just outside of CST's lobby doors on the 2nd floor of Navy Pier, the Little Free Library is part of a global network of volunteer-run exchange boxes which build community, inspire readers, and expand book access for all.

The press opening for Corduroy is scheduled for Saturday, June 22 at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

More information at www.chicagoshakes.com/corduroy or social media at @chicagoshakes.

Corduroy is produced by special arrangement with Plays for New Audiences.




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