Emerald City Theatre suspending operations

After 24 years of entertaining families and teaching Chicagoland children, the beloved Emerald City Theatre announced Friday that it will close at the end of January barring a last-minute major contribution.

For many children, ECT provided their first exposure to live theater.

“Increased program costs and decreased revenue have made the current financial model unsustainable,” ECT Board Member Heike Spahn said in a news release. “While the board is passionately committed to the mission of ECT, as a company we no longer have adequate resources to provide the exceptional quality programs that have inspired Chicago’s youth for the past 24 years.”

Its hit show, “Corduroy”, will run through Jan. 5 at Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. The theater also will operate its popular Winter Camp for kids ages 3.5 to 15.

The news posted on Emerald City’s Facebook page brought swift reaction and sadness. “Emerald City was one of my daughter’s greatest loves! We are heartbroken. Thank you for building her confidence and helping develop her love of theater!” one mom wrote.

Karen and Alyn Cardarelli founded Emerald City in a storefront in 1996. It has since grown to Chicago’s largest theater for young audiences, serving more than 60,000 a year through its theater, classes and camps. One Fund, the theater’s community engagement program, promotes increased literacy by providing more than 100,000 free plays and companion books to students at low-resourced Chicago Public Schools.

The company also produces shows on major stages such as the Broadway Playhouse, Victory Gardens, and the Apollo.

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