Talk about “in with the new”: Chicago Children’s Theatre, the city’s largest professional theater company for children and families, opens its doors this month on its new artistic home in the West Loop. Called “The Station,” the former 12th District Police Station has been transformed into an impressive performing arts and education facility for the entire community to enjoy.
Phase 1 includes the flexible, 149-seat Pritzker Family Studio Theatre, a lobby with box office and concessions, administrative offices and five classroom spaces. The larger main stage shows will remain at The Ruth Page Center for the Arts through this season.
Inclusion has always been the name of the game at CCT, and Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell’s The Red Kite Project (with programming dedicated to children on the autism spectrum) will now have its own space for everything from interactive theatrical experiences to summer camps.
“It’s thrilling to finally have a home where CCT can employ the very best teaching artists in town to instruct young people in the work and play of theater and art making,” Russell says.
Accessibility is a priority at The Station; accommodations will be made for all children, regardless of physical or mental challenges, and scholarships and discounts ensure theater for all.
The company, known for beautiful and immersive performances, has teamed up with a community mainstay with a similar aesthetic. Frank Maugeri, producing artistic director at Chicago’s Redmoon Theater for two decades, has been named the community programs artistic director. “Education comes first” is Maugeri’s motto, and it shows in the diverse courses offered for all ages and abilities.
His favorite classes are too numerous to mention. But for the 0-5 set, he loves Campfire Songs. Older kids will thrill for CCT’s partnership with The Actors Gymnasium and the chance to experience Circus& Aerial Arts. Another gem is S.T.E.A.M. TV, which mixes science and technology with DIY filmmaking.