Children and adults alike have heard tell of the wonderland that is the Children’s Theatre Company. The transformative Midwestern magic that teleports attendees is known far and wide – but those of us in Eden Prairie are lucky enough to live just a stone’s throw away.
Filling the role of Artistic Director for over twenty years is Peter C. Brosius. “We’re a group of adults who have been working in the profession for a long time,” Brosius said. “We know our audience is smart and critical – they’ll make politics, fashion, literature – and they’re doing it right now.”
The CTC does what all children’s media should do – presents challenging ideas and delights with its effervescent and diverse styles of storytelling. Each production has been analyzed and allotted a suggested minimum audience age that can be found on their website, childrenstheatre.org. There are many tools for parents and educators that the CTC provides – including guides for families with different sensory needs, and at least one showing of each production that is specifically sensory-friendly. “The sensory-friendly shows are some of our actors’ favorite performances,” said Brosius. You will also find American Sign language and Audio Described performance dates for each show on the website.
The 2018-2019 season is full of pertinent and poignant subject matter in all age group’s productions. Last Stop on Market Street will run from September 15th to October 21st, I Come From Arizona runs October 9th to November 25th, and 2018 will go out with How The Grinch Stole Christmas! beginning November 6th.
Last Stop on Market Street is based on a children’s book written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. CTC’s show announcement recommends it for “curious 5-year-olds and up.” It’s about a boy from the suburbs, CJ, who visits his grandmother in the city. It explores new and different characters that CJ meets, and how his internal world changes to welcome them. “It’s about the food, the culture, the noise outside,” Brosius said, “We watch him negotiate his way.” The show is co-commissioned with the Chicago Children’s Theatre and directed by Henry Godinez.
I Come From Arizona is an adaptation of the book Augusta and Noble written by Carlos Murillo. The company recommends it for “engaged 8-year-olds and up.” It follows 14-year-old Gabi Castillo, a smart Mexican-American girl, as she attends a prestigious high school in Chicago and discovers a secret about herself and her family. “It is going inside immigration,” said Brosius, “It asks: where is her courage?” It will be directed by Lisa Portes and is premiering worldwide on CTC’s stage.
We will welcome winter, once again, with Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, a revered CTC production. It is suggested, of course, for everyone. The book and lyrics are by Timothy Mason, and will be directed by Peter Brosius. Along with the expected joy of any production in the holiday season, the classic pays due diligence to the timeless message. Of Grinch!, Brosius says “We watch a community have to change!”
Some of the subject matter of the upcoming productions may seem serious for young eyes and ears, and that’s the point. CTC’s work also inspires. “We know there are all kinds of families,” said Brosius. Diversity of all kind is of incredible importance to the Company. CTC hosted a 2018 Pride Family Event for LGBT families. At least fifty percent of the actors onstage are people of color. “The power of seeing yourself onstage is not to be underestimated.”
In additional exciting CTC news, there will be student auditions for Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical at the Mall of America on August 18th, 2018 from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. They are looking for ages 10 to 18, and the casting call states “CTC is encouraging students of any/all genders, racial backgrounds, abilities, and experience levels to audition.” Additional information and timeslot registration can be found on their website.
The Children’s Theater Company is well-deserving of its renown – CTC won the Tony Award for excellence in regional theatre in 2003. In 2004, Time Magazine named them the number one children’s theatre in the nation. Time also referred to them as “cutting-edge.” As you’ll see in their current season over a decade later, the observation remains well-deserved. “We start with extraordinary respect for young people, their understanding, their empathy,” said Brosius. “We know that the work we do can stay with someone for the rest of their life.”