Gold Coast's Ruth Page Center will permanently house Chicago Children's Theatre

11/28/2012 10:00 PM

Alena Murguia
Contributing Writer

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When Chicago Children’s Theatre opened its latest production, Harold and the Purple Crayon, in October, it was the premiere show in its first permanent home. After operating on an itinerant basis for its first six seasons, the company recently announced its designation as Artist-in-Residence at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.

“We are so glad to be in residence at such an iconic Chicago theater,” said Chicago Children’s Theater Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell, who hopes to continue the streak of successful companies such as Lookingglass and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, both of which called Ruth Page home.

Ruth Page is not completely new to the children’s theater’s audiences. In fact, the 2010 production of Jackie and Me, an outstanding look at the life and achievements of Jackie Robinson, was produced at Ruth Page.

The location at 1016 N. Dearborn St. offers a neighborhood feel, plus convenient parking.

“For families, an evening of theater is much more than the actual show. It’s a complete experience,” Russell said. “Parents need to know where to eat and where to park. Having one location for all of our shows will allow us to build our audience base.”

Russell also admits that having a single spot will mean the company can spend more time focusing on producing instead of securing a venue for each show. This is great news for local families, as the children’s theater has already established itself as one of the city’s best for kids.

The Ruth Page theater space lends itself well to the kind of intimate work for which the company is known. In keeping with the “complete experience” theme, on Thursday evenings families can arrive early (5:30 p.m.) for a pre-show pizza party, compliments of Piece Pizza and Izze. Friday evenings are pajama parties where guests wear their PJs and take part in pre-show activities, plus a chance to meet the cast after the show.

Harold’s tenure came to a close in November, but the theater is ramping up for its next production, Bud, not Buddy, which follows an orphan as he searches for his father. The journey eventually leads him to Depression-era Michigan, where he bonds with a group of jazz musicians.

Now that she’s secured a good home for her company, Russell said she can focus on continuing to hire the best actors, designers and directors for every show.

“We are the gateway for children to experience live theater before they’re ready for places like Goodman,” she said. “I will continue to hire Chicago artists who are the top of their craft, because the children in our audience deserve nothing but the best.”

Editor Ben Meyerson contributed to this story.

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