Chicago Children’s Theatre’s much anticipated 2017-18 season finale has arrived, and it’s the hip-hop, heart-thumpin’, toe-tappin’ joy ride Last Stop on Market Street, a world premiere musical based on the 2016 Newbery-winning, Caldecott-honored children’s book by Matt de la Peña.
Countless kids, parents and teachers know and love Peña’s warm-hearted story about 7-year-old CJ and his wise Nana who teaches him to find beauty on a Sunday afternoon bus ride through the city.
Nationally acclaimed playwright Cheryl L. West (Akeelah and the Bee) has adapted Peña’s multiple award-winning book for the stage, a co-commission and rolling world premiere with Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis that is already attracting national attention, including this feature in American Theatre Magazine.
But stop! In the name of love! Because Motown legend Lamont Dozier and his son Paris Ray Dozier, the duo behind the music in Chicago Children’s Theatre 2014 smash hit
Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, are returning to create their second original score for CCT with Last Stop on Market Street.
Henry Godinez, resident artistic associate at Goodman Theatre, has been tapped to direct the Chicago world premiere, and the play’s subsequent debut at Children’s Theatre of Minneapolis. Godinez is a respected veteran director and actor who has worked at all of Chicago’s major stages, including Chicago Children’s Theatre where he staged the company’s very first production in 2006, A Year with Frog and Toad.
Jump on this bus Chicago theater lovers, because Last Stop on Market Street stars musical theater legend E. Faye Butler in her Chicago Children’s Theatre debut as Nana. Alejandro Medina, an 11-year old actor from Oak Park, and Kei Rawlins, 10-years old from Chicago’s River North neighborhood, will rotate in the role of CJ.
The Last Stop cast also features Melanie Brezill, Jesse Bhamrah, Brian Keys, Kirra Silver and Breon Arzell. The production team includes Andra Velis Simon (music director), Stephanie Paul (choreographer), John Musial (scenic design), Izumi Inaba (costume design), Alex Ridgers (lighting design), Ray Nardelli (sound design), Eleanor Kahn (properties design) and Ari Clouse (stage manager).
Last Stop on Market Street runs April 24-May 27 at Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, 100 S. Racine Avenue in Chicago’s West Loop. Show times are Saturday at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Press are invited to attend any performance on opening weekend, Saturday,
April 28 at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. or 3 p.m., or Sunday, April 29 at 10:30 a.m.or 12:30 p.m.
School matinees are Tuesday and Thursday at 10 a.m., and Wednesday and Friday at
10 a.m. and Noon.
Last Stop on Market Street is recommended for ages 6 and up. Single tickets are $35 including fees. For subscriptions, single tickets and information on group rates, visitchicagochildrenstheatre.org or call Chicago Children’s Theatre Guest Services,
All Aboard! Don’t miss Chicago Children’s Theatre’s bus to Last Stop on Market Street
Young CJ is staying with his grandmother - stripped of his smart phone or tablet “because Nana says so” - in a world considerably different from the one he’s used to. Dragged on an urban bus ride that’s loud, gritty and weird, guided by his veritable force of nature, Nana, CJ travels a little closer to his roots and learns that things are not always what they have been, and people are not always who they may seem.
Leading Chicago Children’s Theatre’s cast in this as Nana is the indefatigable E. Faye Butler, a Chicago musical theater legend who has performed around the globe to international acclaim. Her many awards include six Joseph Jefferson Awards, two Helen Hayes Awards, a Barrymore Award and four Black Theatre Alliance Awards.
Alejandro Medina (CJ) arrives at CCT off a successful run as Tall Boy in Porchlight Music Theater’s Billy Elliott. Kei Rawlins (rotating as CJ) recently made his professional debut in the Goodman’s A Christmas Carol, can be seen in TV ads for Sprint and T. Rowe Price, and was featured earlier this year in Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine.
The ensemble cast has worked at many of Chicago’s top stages. Breon Arzell (Mr. Dennis) performed in Objects in the Mirror (Goodman), An Octaroon (Definition Theatre), The Wiz (Kokandy Productions), The Hairy Ape (Oracle Productions) and The Scottsboro Boys (Raven Theatre). Jesse Bhamrah (Blind Man/Mr. Chow), new to Chicago, just made his local debut in Goodman’s An Enemy of the People. Melanie Brezill (Posey/Butterfly) starred in Chicago Children’s Theatre’s My Wonderful Birthday Suit! this season, performed on Broadway in The Book of Mormon and in the national tour of Mamma Mia!. Brian Keys (Tat Man), an actor, singer and musician born and raised on the south side, recently performed a solo show in Collaboraction’s PEACEBOOK Fest, in the Jeff RecommendedRuined with Eclipse Theater and Seven Guitars at Court. Kirra Silver (Jojo) co-starred earlier this season in The Snowy Day at Emerald City Theatre Company and Time Stands Still at Raven Theatre.
Matt de la Peña (author) is the New York Times bestselling author of six young adult novels (including Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here and The Living) and four picture books. Last Stop on Market Street, illustrated by Christian Robinson, was released in 2015, and won the 2016 Newbery Medal, Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book awards. His newest picture book, Love with illustrator Loren Long, released this spring, is inspired by the birth of his daughter. In 2016 he was awarded the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award. He received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship. Peña currently lives with his family in Brooklyn, NY. He teaches creative writing and visits high schools and colleges throughout the country.mattdelapena.com
CCT continues to grow its commitment to all Chicago children at The Station by expanding services for patrons with disabilities. Access Weekend for Last Stop on Market Street isMay 12 and 13, 2018. Services include:
Pre-show Touch Tour of the set prior to the show for guests who are blind or have low vision:
Saturday, May 12 at 9:30 a.m.
Live open captioning for guests who are deaf or hard of hearing:
Saturday, May 12 at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Sensory friendly performance for children on the autism spectrum or with Down Syndrome:
Sunday, May 13 at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Note: Modifications are made to lighting, sound and music to avoid sensory overload, with a nearby Quiet Room.
For more information about Access services, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org/accessor contact CCT’s Access and Inclusion department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Chicago Children’s Theatre
Chicago Children’s Theatre has transformed the former 12th District Police Station, located in the heart of Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood at 100 S. Racine Avenue, into its first permanent home. The new Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, celebrated its grand opening in January 2017, and now serves as a beautiful, mixed-use performing arts, education and community engagement facility that welcomes all Chicago families.
In addition to live performances in its new Pritzker Family Studio, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, is a centrally located community hub with the most diverse roster of year-round performing arts classes and camps for children 0 to 14 anywhere in Chicago. Registration is open at chicagochildrenstheatre.org/springclasses for the next eight-week spring session, April 9-June 2, 2018. High demand classes include Bubble James, HipHop4Tots, Intro to Piven Theatre Workshop, Circus and Aerial Arts with Actors Gymnasium, Wiggleworms West Loop, Improv with The Second City and Intro to Theatre.
Registration is also open for a unique series of 2018 Summer Camps at Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, ranging from week-long Adventure Camps born from legends, myths, folktales and fairytales. Look for half-day Play Time camps for little ones 3-1/2 to 5, special two-day workshops like Acting for the Camera and Acting with Green Screen, a GRRL Power camp in August for girls only that brings the Viola Project’s signature girl-powered Shakespeare program to Chicago Children's Theatre and Camp Red Kite, a three-week summer arts camp tailored specifically to the unique interests and needs of young people on the autism spectrum. Visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org/summercamp,email email@example.com, or call (312) 374-8835 to register your child for one camp or many.
Since its launch in 2005, Chicago Children’s Theatre has cemented its reputation as the city’s largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families. The company evolved out of Chicago’s need for high-quality, professional children’s programming to match the quality and significance of powerhouses such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre and Lookingglass Theatre. CCT has always believed children should be treated as the sophisticated audiences that they are, showcasing high profile and award-winning talent, inventive production values and compelling stories that challenge, educate and entertain. CCT also honors a strong commitment to low-income families and children with special needs. In partnership with Chicago Public Schools, the company offers free tickets to more than 5,000 Chicago-area low-income students each season.
CCT has built its national reputation due to its focus on new work, producing 16 world premieres in the last 11 years including The Selfish Giant, The Hundred Dresses, Jackie and Me, Dot and Ziggy, The Houdini Box, The Elephant and The Whale (in association with Redmoon), Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, Leo Lionni’s Frederick, Wonderland, Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure, A Snowy Day with Beatrix Potter, Jabari Dreams of Freedom,Moonshot: A Race to Space, The Year I Didn’t Go To School: A Homemade Circus, My Wonderful Birthday Suit! and An Epic Tale of Scale. These enjoyed successful inaugural runs in Chicago, many followed by productions at theaters across the U.S.
In 2017, Chicago Children’s Theatre became the first theater for young audiences in the nation to win a National Theatre Award from the American Theatre Wing, creators of the Tony Awards.
Led by Co-Founders, Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, Board President Eric Neveux and Community Programs Artistic Director Frank Maugeri, Chicago Children’s Theatre is supported by a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy and business.
Chicago Children's Theatre is sponsored in part by Goldman Sachs Gives and ComEd, with specific production support from The Chicago Community Trust. For more information, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org.
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