Chicago Children's Theatre Announces 2011-12 Season

Chicago Children's Theatre (CCT) and Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell are delighted to announce three wildly imaginative productions for the company's 2011-2012 season.

Chicago's #1 presenter of top-quality professional children's theater will kick off its sixth season with the Chicago debut of a new musical version of everyone's favorite bedtime story, Goodnight Moon. Performances are October 27 through December 24, 2011 on the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater mainstage. Lookingglass Theatre ensemble member David Kersnar will direct this sweet, playful musical based on Margaret Wise Brown's beloved children's story. Book, music and lyrics are by Chad Henry, with new arrangements by Mark Messing, musical director of the circus punk marching band Mucca Pazza.

In January 2012, CCT will unleash The Houdini Box, a world premiere musical adventure based on the book by award-winning children's author Brian Selznick. Master puppeteer Blair Thomas will direct and create puppetry for this captivating story about a mischievous boy who receives a special box that just might contain the secrets of Harry Houdini's success. Book and lyrics are by Hannah Kohl, with original music again by Mark Messing. Performances are January 27 through March 4, 2012 at Chicago's Mercury Theater, followed by a suburban remount, March 14 through March 25 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie. Note: CCT's world premiere of The Houdini Box debuts just one month after the December 2011 release of Martin Scorsese's next major motion picture, a 3D adaptation of Selznick's Caldecott-winning novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Chicago Children's Theatre's sixth season culminates with a return visit by the internationally acclaimed Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia for the Chicago premiere of their newest production, Brown Bear, A Moon and A Caterpillar: Treasured Stories by Eric Carle. Featuring evocative music, stunning visual effects and innovative puppetry, this triple?bill brings thrilling new life to three Eric Carle family favorites - Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Performances are May 2 through June 2, 2012 at the Mercury Theater.

Families that enjoy theater and like to save money, take note: Chicago Children's Theatre is offering its first-ever Flex Pass program for its 2011-2012 season. CCT has launched an Internet-only pre-sale for early bird Flex Passes - on sale now via its website chicagochildrenstheatre.org - offering admission to the company's 2011-2012 season for 30 percent off.

Early bird Flex Pass sales run through July 1, when standard Flex Passes still offering a 20 percent discount on single tickets go on sale via internet and phone. For complete information, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call (773) 227-0180. For group inquiries, contact GroupTix at (773) 327-3778 or visit GroupTix.net. Single ticket on-sale dates are to be announced.

More about Chicago Children's Theatre's 2011-2012 season:

Goodnight Moon
A Chicago Children's Theatre Chicago premiere
Based on the book by Margaret Wise Brown and original illustrations by Clement Hurd
Directed by David Kersnar
Book, music and lyrics by Chad Henry
New arrangements by Mark Messing
October 27-December 24, 2011
Press opening: Sunday, November 6 at 3 p.m.
At the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater mainstage, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago
Recommended for ages 3 and up

For more than 60 years, parents and children have read and re-read Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown's beloved tale of a little bunny who just can't go to sleep. Now Chicago Children's Theatre is bringing everyone's favorite bedtime book vibrantly alive on stage in a full-length musical. Watch as Bunny's room magically comes alive as he dances and sings his way to sweet dreams through nursery rhyme scenes with dancing bears with chairs, the Cat and the Fiddle, the Cow Jumping Over the Moon and even a trip through the night sky with dancing constellations.

Catchy songs, delightful dancing, a technicolor set that pays homage to the book's vivid illustrations, the quiet poetry of the original tale, and the humorous antics of one very nocturnal bunny all play a part in this fun, family-friendly celebration of one of the most iconic children's books of all time. Director David Kersnar is a founding member of Lookingglass Theatre, where his directing credits include their current production, The Last Act of Lilka Kadison, and the critically-acclaimed musicals Brundibar and Sita Ram. Mark Messing, musical director of the Chicago-based circus punk marching band Mucca Pazza is creating new music arrangements for CCT's production. The original book and lyrics are by Chad Henry.

The Houdini Box
A Chicago Children's Theatre World premiere
Based on the book of the same name written and illustrated by Brian Selznick, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Directed and featuring puppetry by Blair Thomas
Book and lyrics by Hannah Kohl
Music by Mark Messing
January 24-March 4, 2012
Press opening: Friday, January 27 at 7 p.m.
At the Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago
Followed by a two-week run, March 14-25, 2012
at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL
Recommended for ages 5 and up

Acclaimed author and illustrator Brian Selznick's first book for children, The Houdini Box, is an enchanting blend of fact and fiction that splendidly captures the sense of wonder that surrounded the world's most famous escape artist. Now, Chicago Children's Theatre and a creative team led by Chicago's most accomplished master puppeteer, Blair Thomas, are ready to unleash the amazing tale of The Houdini Box to spectacular effect on stage.

As Houdini circles the globe performing one incredible stunt after another, Victor, a young devotee goes through his own rigorous magician's training - locking himself in closets, holding his breath under water, and walking into walls. After a chance encounter with his hero, Victor receives a special box that just might contain the secrets of Houdini's success.

Chicago Children's Theatre commissioned master puppeteer Blair Thomas, Hannah Kohl and Mark Messing to collaborate with Brian Selznick on a stage adaptation of The Houdini Box soon after the successful run in 2008 of Thomas' first CCT production, The Selfish Giant, created with Chicago folk music legend Michael Smith. Thomas, widely considered Chicago's #1 master puppeteer, is a co-founder of Chicago's Redmoon Theatre. Book and lyrics are by Kohl, who wrote the book, music and lyrics for The Blackbird, Cake!, Gardenia and Tora Bora, and is co-author of the new book Great Composers for Kids. Original music for The Houdini Box is by Messing, former musical director of Redmoon Theatre, and current musical director of the band Mucca Pazza.

Brian Selznick has written and illustrated numerous children's books, including his most recent novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, winner of the 2008 Caldecott Honor. Martin Scorsese is directing a 3D film adaptation of The Invention of Hugo Cabret starring Chloe Moretz, Sasha Baron Cohen, Jude Law and Johnny Depp. This major motion picture will be released this December, just weeks before the debut of Chicago Children's Theatre's live stage version of Selznick's first book, The Houdini Box.

Brown Bear, A Moon and A Caterpillar: Treasured Stories by Eric Carle
A Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia production, presented by Chicago Children's Theatre
May 2-June 2, 2012
Press opening Saturday, May 5 at 1 p.m.
At the Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Avenue, Chicago
Recommended for ages 3 and up

Chicago Children's Theatre presents the internationally acclaimed Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia's new production of popular children's author Eric Carle's most treasured stories. Featuring evocative music, stunning visual effects and innovative puppetry, this triple?bill brings to life three Eric Carle
all-time family favorites - Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Mermaid Theatre has performed for more than four million spectators on four continents. The company's emphasis on imaginative design elements, original music, and challenging texts syncs right up with Chicago Children's Theatre's aesthetic, while offering a rich opportunity to acquaint young audiences with the visual and performing arts as well as with the pleasures of reading.

About Chicago Children's Theatre

Chicago Children's Theatre aspires to enrich our community through diverse and significant theatrical and educational programming that engages and inspires the child in all of us. Chicago Children's Theatre focuses on the production of first-rate children's theatre in Chicago, with top writing, performing and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise.

Led by Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell, Board Chair Todd Leland and Board President Tom Herman, the company is supported by a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy and business, and a committed Artistic Council of Chicago-based actors, directors, musicians and designers.

Launched in 2005, Chicago Children's Theatre strives to provide affordable and accessible theatre for families and area school children. To enhance the impact of any given production's themes, Chicago Children's Theatre offers educational materials and programs for families and educators.

Chicago Children's Theatre's 2011-2012 season is made possible in part by the generosity of its sponsors: United is the official and exclusive airline sponsor. ComEd is the official lighting sponsor. Goldman Sachs Gives is the official season sponsor. Target has been Chicago Children's Theatre's official School Field Trip sponsor.

For more information about Chicago Children's Theatre visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call 773.227.0180.


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