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.
The vision of Chicago Children’s Theatre is to be Chicago’s premier professional theatre company dedicated to creating awe-inspiring theatrical productions and programs for our communities through inclusion and accessibility inspiring young people and families to lead lives of adventure, courage, and curiosity.
Founded in 2004, the critically acclaimed 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. Chicago Children’s Theatre also produces The Red Kite Project, a multi-sensory interactive theatre program tailored specifically to the needs of children on the autism spectrum. 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 Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Co-Founder Todd Leland, Chicago Children’s Theatre has built its national reputation due to its focus on new work, producing 20 world premieres in the last 12 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, Magic City, My Wonderful Birthday Suit!, An Epic Tale of Scale, Last Stop on Market Street, X Marks the Spot, The World Inside Me, and The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963. These productions enjoyed successful inaugural runs in Chicago, many followed by productions at theaters across the U.S.
In 2017, Chicago Children’s Theatre began performing in their new home, the former Chicago Police Station for the 12th Precinct. In addition to presenting live shows in “The Station’s” intimate 149-seat Pritzker Family Studio Theatre, Chicago Children’s Theatre continues to grow its education and community programs, which are unique in Chicago for emphasizing student authorship, youth empowerment, and community leadership. CCT now offers year-round education programming for ages 0 to 13, including the city’s most diverse roster of classes, specialized workshops, winter and spring break camps, and a full slate of summer camp experiences.
Chicago Children’s Theatre is the recipient of the National Artistic Innovation Award 2019 from Theatre for Young Audiences USA.
Co-Founder and Artistic Director
Jacqueline Russell (Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Chicago Children’s Theatre) served as the previous Executive Director of Lookingglass Theatre Company, during which time she led the company’s build and move into Lookingglass’ current performance space in the Water Tower Water Works. Prior to that, she served as Lookingglass’ Director of Education and Outreach. Before joining Lookingglass, she spent five years as the creator of Children’s Programs at Old Town School of Folk Music. In addition to leading CCT’s new play development, main stage, and education programs, Russell is the creator of the Red Kite Project, a CCT program dedicated to bringing theatre into the lives of children with special needs. In 2010, she was appointed by the U.S. State Department to serve as Cultural Envoy to Canada, was honored with the 2013 “Hero of the Year Award” from the Chicago chapter of Autism Speaks, and was recently honored as one of 20 women who have shaped arts and culture in Chicago on the Kerry James Marshall mural, Rushmore, at the Chicago Culture Center. She was named “Tastemaker” by Time Out Chicago Kids, and has three times been highlighted in New City’s “Players” list of “People Who Really Perform for Chicago.” Jacqueline is originally from Houston, Texas, and is a graduate of New York University. She has a daughter, Shiri Nicole, a three-legged, yellow lab named Max and a turtle called Leonard.