Since its launch in 2005, Chicago Children’s Theatre has cemented its reputation as the city’s largest professional theatre company devoted exclusively to children and families. The company evolved out of Chicago’s need for high-quality, professional year-round children’s programming to match the quality, and significance of theatrical powerhouses such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre and Lookingglass Theatre. Likewise, CCT has always believed children should be treated as the sophisticated audiences that they are, showcasing high-profile and award-winning talent, original production values and compelling stories that challenge, educate and entertain.
Audiences have embraced Chicago Children’s Theatre since its inaugural production, A Year with Frog and Toad, at the Goodman Theatre in 2006. Since then, the company’s productions have featured everything from black-light scenery to live music to interactive four-dimensional sets to life-size puppets, with performances showcasing the heart of Motown to Vaudeville to contemporary, current and modern styles. CCT has also built a national reputation due to its strong focus on new work, producing 17 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!, An Epic Tale of Scale, and Last Stop on Market Street. These enjoyed highly successful inaugural runs in Chicago, many followed by productions at theatres across the U.S.
CCT has always honored 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. Meanwhile, the company has pioneered immersive theatre designed for children on the autism spectrum via its Red Kite Project, and recently expanded programming for children with impaired vision or hearing and Down’s syndrome. Chicago Children’s Theatre also offers a full roster of after-school theatre classes and summer camps.
Led by Co-Founders, Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, Chicago Children’s Theatre are supported by a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy, and business. Officers include Eric Neveux, President; Anne Ray, Secretary; David Saltiel, Vice-Chair; Jack Lavin, Vice-Chair; and David Chung, Treasurer. Chicago Children’s Theatre is sponsored in part by Goldman Sachs Gives and ComEd.
Jacqueline Russell, Co-Founder and Artistic Director, 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. Before 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 and was honored with the 2013 “Hero of the Year Award” from the Chicago chapter of Autism Speaks. She was named “Tastemaker” by Time Out Chicago Kids, and has three times been highlighted in New City’s “Players” list of “People Who Perform for Chicago.” Jacqueline is originally from Houston, Texas, and is a graduate of New York University. Her daughter, Shiri Nicole, attends the University of Pennsylvania. She has a tri-pawed yellow lab named Max and a turtle named Leonard.
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.