When Chicago Children's Theatre opens its newest
production "Harold and the Purple Crayon," it will be the premiere
show in its first permanent home. After operating on an itinerant
basis for its first six seasons, the company recently announced its
designation as Artist-in-Residence at the Ruth Page Center for the
"We are so glad to be in residence at such an iconic
Chicago theater," says CCT Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell,
who hopes to continue the streak of successful companies such as
Lookingglass and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, both of which called
Ruth Page home. Ruth Page is not completely new to CCT's audiences.
In fact, the 2010 production of "Jackie and Me," an outstanding
look at the life and achievements of Jackie Robinson, was produced
at Ruth Page.
The location at 1016 N. Dearborn offers a neighborhood
feel, plus convenient parking. "For families, an evening of theater
is much more than the actual show. It's a complete experience.
Parents need to know where to eat and where to park. Having one
location for all of our shows will allow us to build our audience
base," she says.
Russell also admits that having a single spot will mean
the company can spend more time focusing on producing instead of
securing a venue for each show. This is great news for local
families, as CCT has already established itself as one of the
city's best children's theaters.
The Ruth Page theater space lends itself well to the kind
of intimate work for which the company is known. In keeping with
the "complete experience" theme, on Thursday evenings families can
arrive early (5:30 p.m.) for a pre-show pizza party, compliments of
Piece Pizza and Izze. Friday evenings are pajama parties where
guests wear their PJs and take part in pre-show activities, plus a
chance to meet the cast after the show.
As for the upcoming production, families can expect
"Harold and the Purple Crayon" to engage all of their senses with
music, puppetry and animation to tell the story of a boy who uses
his imagination to create his own world.
"One of our challenges in designing this show was to be
true to Harold's world. Everything created for this production has
to look like it came from a purple crayon. I think audiences will
be amazed at what they see," says Russell.
Russell expects Harold to inspire children and parents to
use their imaginations not only to create something new, but to
Now that she has secured a good home for her company, she
can focus on continuing to hire the best actors, designers and
directors for every show.
"We are the gateway for children to experience live
theater before they're ready for places like Goodman. I will
continue to hire Chicago artists who are the top of their craft
because the children in our audience deserve nothing but the
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.
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