Chicago, February 21, 2019 – Chicago Children’s Theatre’s 13th season finale is the world premiere of The
Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, a civil rights era family drama based on the groundbreaking young adult novel by Christopher Paul Curtis about the 1963 Birmingham church bombing. Since Chicago Children’s Theatre’s founding, “please…please do The Watsons Go to Birmingham” has been the #1 new play request from one of the company’s most important audiences – Chicago teachers. Happily, school groups and the general public will have the chance to see Chicago Children’s Theatre’s new adaptation of the Newbery-winning book.
And it comes with impressive credentials. Chicago director Wardell Julius Clark, currently riding on a meteoric rise as one of Chicago’s most acclaimed young directors, makes his CCT directing debut with The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963. Internationally admired playwright Cheryl L. West penned this fresh new adaptation of Curtis’s acclaimed novel, which features original music composed by Paris Ray Dozier. West and Dozier collaborated with CCT on the company’s 2018 smash hit world premiere Last Stop on Market Street.
Meet the Watsons, an African-American family of five, who live in Flint, Michigan. When oldest son Byron starts getting into trouble, it’s decided he needs to be sent to Birmingham, Alabama to live with his grandma to get set straight. So the whole family – Mama, Daddy, Byron, Kenny, and Joetta – sets out on a cross-country journey in the family car, the “Brown Bomber.” When they make it to Birmingham, they find more than they bargained for – a city simmering with tension during the height of the civil rights movement. This powerful story reminds us that during times of crisis, hope reveals itself in the forms of family, friendships, learning, growing and evolving.