An X-Traordinary X- Experience by Brenda and Rick McCain | January 27

We have five senses, and they play a significant role in how we effectively go about our daily lives to perceive the world around us. When we lose one of our senses, the brain adapts to the loss by giving itself a makeover; which improves the other senses learned behavior.  Take for instance the loss of sight, the visually impaired, pay close attention to auditory cues and learn how to use them more efficiently.

‘X- Marks The Spot’ a sensory X-Tra Sensory Xperience at Chicago Children’s Theatre (CCT), was conceived and directed by Jacqueline Russell, Cofounder and Artistic Director at CCT.

Inspired by children who are visually impaired, and created for children 8 and up, Russell commitment to engaging children into the imagination of theater is a step above and truly uplifting.  Her passion for educating and breaking through the prison of technology that seems to control today’s children can be seen at CCT which was once a police precinct.

Minds are now being released with imagination and children are free to dream again without the need for gadgets. CCT 149-seat Pritzker Family Studio Theatre has classrooms for performing arts instruction and offer a diverse roster of classes and camps for toddlers to teens in theater, storytelling, modern movement, film making, hip hop, craft, aerial circus arts, and vocal instruction.

When we walked into the theater, the first thing that caught our eyes was the magical circular low-light on the ceiling; it sets the mood of the production. The communal setting of tables, chairs, and props awaited us with surprises and fun on our sensory journey.

An assistant is assigned to each table to help navigate you through your senses travel of sounds, tastes and smells that stimulate the senses to bring the play to life. It is optional to use the eye mask that you are given to get the ultimate Xperience on your new adventure.


We decided that we will experience this new excursion both ways, Rick stayed masked throughout the entire hour of the play, and I opted for only closing my eyes when our assistant presented us with props to touch, and edibles due to my hearing loss in my right ear.

The description that was given for each character along with the narration of the family adventure in ‘X-Marks The Spot’ allowed Rick to form an idea of what they looked like and to rely on all of his senses to kick part of the play.

My first emotion was isolation. I felt removed from the crowd of voices I heard them laughing at the scenes that I couldn’t see. I tried focusing on the main voices and sounds on stage, but I struggled with imagining how they looked. Even with the narration of the actors and how they looked, it was hard to imagine them.

As Brenda stated, I was blindfolded throughout most of the play, occasionally removing my mask to get a better sense of the characters. I wanted the full experience of being visually impaired to see how my mind and emotions would act without the ability to see.

Were the actors small, tall, short, big or what color they were. I became a little frustrated and felt like I wasn’t able to follow the play because I couldn’t see, however, after I relaxed and followed my imagination, I became more engaged and excited.  I learned it’s hard and can be troubling not being like others around me, but if I allow myself to let go and imagine I could see things others couldn’t see. I actually cried a little when I left because for a moment with the blindfold on over my eyes, I felt lost, however, CCT helped me to see it through by opening my mind with imagination.

To use all of your senses except sight can be very challenging at times, but this was an X-Traordinary, X-Tra Sensory Xperience that allowed children to use their imagination and other sensors to bring the adventure to life in this X-citing story. This is a remarkable theater Xperience that a child will never forget because they will be able to tune in to their other four senses while being a part of the play.

In addition to presenting shows in the 149-seat Pritzker Family Studio Theatre, The Station boasts five brand new classrooms for performing arts instruction and free on-site parking. Registration is open for a diverse roster of classes and camps for toddlers to teens in theater, storytelling, modern movement, film making, hip hop, craft, aerial circus arts, and vocal instruction.


Chicago Children’s Theater (CCT) believed that children are not exempt from being treated as a mature audience that is why they display a high profile and unbeatable talent. The interactive storytelling at CCT captivates the audience, entertains, educates and places your senses in high gear to perform.

Let’s Play ‘Highly Recommend’ that you bring your kids ‘X-Marks The Spot’ to Xperience a great X- at the all-new form of “X-Tra Sensory Theatre.”



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