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Leo Lionni’s Frederick

In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve launched a new YouTube channel, CCTv: Virtual Theatre and Learning from Chicago Children’s Theatre.

And it’s a starry launch indeed with Michael Shannon, the Academy Award nominated Chicago stage and screen star generously lending his voice to narrate CCTv’s debut production, Frederick, A Virtual Puppet Performance.

Frederick marks our first, but not last, venture into releasing fresh online content for children and families via CCTv. The Caldecott Award-winning picture book by Leo Lionni comes to brand new life as a clever and colorful virtual puppet show gently narrated by Shannon, a founder of Chicago’s A Red Orchid Theatre and star of films like Shape of WaterRevolutionary Road, and Boardwalk Empire.  

Generations of children have loved the picture book, Frederick since it was first published in 1967. It’s the simple tale of a family of field mice who work together all through summer and autumn getting ready for the long, cold winter. It’s difficult to work, but as long as they all pull their weight they should be ready. However, one field mouse, Frederick, doesn’t seem to be helping at all. The other mice think he is lazy and daydreaming his days away. But when winter arrives, it’s Frederick who has a special surprise in store that helps them survive until spring dawns again.

Words and Pictures by Leo Lionni 
Directed by Jacqueline Russell 
Inspired by the musical Frederick by Suzanne Miller 
Music by Sarah Durkee and Paul Jacobs 
Read by Michael Shannon 
Designed and Constructed by Will Bishop and Grace Needlman
Music Arranged and Performed by Mr. Nick Davio
Video Editing by Shiri Nicole

Watch Frederick, A Virtual Puppet Performance below!

This performance of Frederick is a gift from our supporters’ families to yours!

Behind the Scenes

Stay tuned after the credits for behind-the-scenes footage into the making of Frederick, along with an important message regarding CCT and the
COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fan Letter

Greetings Chicago Children’s Theater –

A few years ago – I had the opportunity to see your production of Frederick with my then 1 and 3 year old. They were spellbound. I was spellbound.

I have always been a performer, but I was so deeply moved by this production, that I began directing children theater in my hometown off Bozeman Montana.

I’ve been reflecting on Frederick’s story a lot this last week.  We are so isolated and so cut off from many of the things that feed our soul. I wonder how this situation would be different if we’d had time to prepare, and collect those things like Frederick did.

I wonder if you’d consider releasing a video of this production as a gift to all those needing hope right now – especially the parents at home with very young children. You’d give my household a tremendous and much needed boost – and I’m sure many others.

Thanks for making beautiful art.  
– CCT Frederick Fan