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Dan Gutman’s Time Travelling Baseball Adventure about Jackie Robinson, adapted by Steven Dietz, directed by Derrick Sander’s, Next on Deck for Chicago’s #1 Children’s Theatre 

 

Chicago, IL – The awe-inspiring story of Jackie Robinson, the courageous athlete who broke baseball’s color barrier, will be brought to life on stage next February when Chicago Children’s Theatre premieres Jackie and Me, a time-travelling adventure by acclaimed playwright Steven Dietz, based on the popular children’s novel by Dan Gutman.

Jeff Award winner Derrick Sanders will direct Chicago Children’s Theatre’s world premiere of Jackie and Me, the company’s much anticipated follow-up to its hit 2007 production of Honus and Me, and a fresh, new theatrical offering for February/Black History Month.  Casting for Jackie and Me includes Kamal Angelo Bolden (Chad in Victory Gardens/Teatro Vista’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity) as Jackie Robinson, Tyler Ross as Joey Stoshack, with Tracey Bonner (Rachel), Patrick De Nicola (Ant), Ron Rains (Dad), Vanessa Greenway (Mom), Sean Cooper (Flip) and Charles Stransky (Branch Rickey).

Performances of Jackie and Me are February 8 through March 27, 2011 at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, 1016 North Dearborn St., Chicago.   Press opening is Friday, February 11 at 7 pm. 

Tickets are $25 for children (ages 17 and under) and $35 for adults.  Tickets will be available through CCT’s website, chicagochildrenstheatre.org, or the ticket hotline, (866) 811-4111,
8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.   Discounted group rates are available through GroupTix by calling (773) 327-3778 or by visiting GroupTix.net.  Jackie and Me is recommended for children ages 8 and older.

In Jackie and Me, Joey Stoshack is a headstrong young boy with a special talent for time travel.  When Joey is assigned to write a report on an African American who has made an important contribution to society, he uses his special ability to go back to New York City in the year 1947 to meet one of history’s greatest baseball players, Jackie Robinson.  Joey plans on writing a prize-winning report, but he doesn’t plan on a trip that will forever change his view of history and his definition of courage.

Babe Ruth changed baseball.  Jackie Robinson changed America.  

Until 1947, only white players were accepted in the major leagues, but on April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson was called up to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers, and became the first African-American to play in baseball’s major leagues in the modern era.  Robinson, mainly a second baseman, though he also played at first and third, was named Rookie of the Year for 1947 and went on to appear in six World Series in ten seasons with the Dodgers (1947-56).  Other major league teams soon followed Brooklyn’s lead and hired black players of their own.  Robinson’s stellar play, and his role in breaking the color barrier, led to his 1962 induction as the first African-American in baseball’s Hall of Fame.  In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s first year with the Dodgers, Major League Baseball permanently retired Robinson’s uniform number, 42.   He is the only baseball player ever to have been so honored.

Behind the scenes of Chicago Children’s Theatre’s debut production of Jackie and Me

“It’s such an incredible coup for Chicago Children’s Theatre to be working with Steven Dietz, one of America’s most widely-produced and published contemporary playwrights, on the very first production of his newest children’s play,” said Jacqueline Russell, Artistic Director, Chicago Children’s Theatre.   

Since 1983, Steven  Dietz’ twenty-plus plays, including his adaptation of Honus and Me, have been seen at more than 100 regional theatres in the United States, as well as Off-Broadway.   International productions have been seen in England, Japan, Germany, France, Australia, Sweden, Austria, Russia, Slovenia, Argentina, Peru, Singapore and South Africa.   He is a two-time winner of the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, for Fiction (produced Off-Broadway by the Roundabout Theatre Company), and Still Life With Iris.  He received the PEN USA West Award in Drama for Lonely Planet, the 2007 Edgar Award for Drama from the Mystery Writers of America for his widely-produced Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure (adapted from William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle); and the 1995 Yomuiri Shimbun Award (the Japanese “Tony”) for his adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence.   Other widely produced plays include Inventing Van Gogh, God’s Country, Private Eyes, The Nine Variations, Trust, Rocket Man, Halcyon Days, Ten November, and More Fun Than Bowling.  Other award-winning stage adaptations include Force of Nature (from Goethe), Over the Moon (from P.G. Wodehouse), The Rememberer (from Joyce Simmons Cheeka), Paragon Springs (from Ibsen), Dracula (from Bram Stoker), and, with Allison Gregory, Go, Dog, Go! (from P.D. Eastman).

Dan Gutman is the author of many books for young readers, notably his beloved Baseball Card Adventure series including Jackie and Me, Honus and Me, and just released earlier this year, Roberto and Me, about Roberto Clemente.   Besides baseball, he has written about soccer, basketball, bowling and aliens.   His newest series, The Genius Files, debuts in January and is about a twin brother and sister who are traveling cross-country with their parents in an RV while a team of lunatics try to kill them.   Gutman has received 16 state book awards and 37 state book award nominations.  He lives in Haddonfield, New Jersey, with his wife, Nina, and their two children, Sam and Emma.  Visit him online at dangutman.com.

Award-winning director Derrick Sanders – Founding Artistic Director of Chicago’s Congo Square Theatre Company and a Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year in 2005 – also has a national reputation, having directed at countless Chicago, regional and New York theaters.   Recent credits include Jitney, Elmina’s Kitchen and Stick Fly with True Colors Theatre in Atlanta; Top Dog/Under Dog and Five Fingers of Funk at Minneapolis Children’s Theatre; August Wilson’s 20th Century Cycle at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at Center Stage; and his Off-Broadway debut King Hedley II for Signature Theatre, for which he received two Lucille Lortel and Audelco nominations.  His production of Joe Turner’s Come and Gone received three Jeff Award nominations.  He staged the world premiere of the Jeff Nominated Deep Azure and the BTAA, Black Excellence and Jeff Award winning production of Seven Guitars.  He was also a part of August Wilson’s World premiere productions of Radio Golf and Gem of the Ocean on Broadway and at the Huntington Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and the Goodman.  He received his training from Howard University (B.F.A) and the University of Pittsburgh (M.F.A).

 

Chicago Children’s Theatre has assembled an all-star design team for Jackie and Me including Ian Zywica (set), Seth Reinick (lights), Christine Pascual (costumes), Michael Griggs (sound) and Kimberly Morris (props). 

Complete Performance Schedule for Jackie and Me

Previews of Jackie and Me are Tuesday, February 8 at 10 a.m.; Wednesday and Thursday, February 9 and 10 at 10 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.; and Friday, February 11 at 10 a.m. (only).  Press opening is Friday, February 11 at 7 p.m.  Regular performances Saturday, February 12 through Friday, March 4 are Tuesday through Friday at 10 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.; Saturday at 10 a.m.; no performances on Sunday.    Beginning Saturday, March 5 and continuing through Sunday, March 27, the weekend performance schedule expands to Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Weekday performances remain the same:  Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. 

Tickets to Jackie and Me are $25 for children (ages 17 and under) and $35 for adults.  Tickets will be available through CCT’s website, chicagochildrenstheatre.org, or call the ticket hotline, (866) 811-4111, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.   Discounted group rates are available through GroupTix by calling (773) 327-3778 or by visiting GroupTix.net.  Jackie and Me is recommended for children ages 8 and older.

Jackie and Me in the classroom

To enhance the experience of seeing Jackie and Me, particularly as part of Black History Month studies in February, Chicago Children’s Theatre will post a companion study guide for use in the classroom or even at home with games, activities and exercises designed to help spark frank discussion on the subject of race in America.   Click chicagochildrenstheatre.org  to download these free supplemental educational activities.

Additionally, through a generous grant from the Target Corporation, Chicago Children’s Theatre is implementing a new field trip program during specific performances that will include not only complimentary admission and study materials but also transportation.  This program will accommodate approximately 6,000 students during the 2010-2011 season.

Also on tap for Chicago Children’s Theatre’s 2010-2011 season

Also in February 2011, CCT will return to Millennium Park with Red Kite Round Up, a unique theatrical experience created specifically for children on the autism spectrum and their families and caregivers.  This will be the second time the company has produced this full scale multi-sensory exploration for children with autism.  Red Kite Round Up will run from February 1 – 20, 2011, in the Pritzker Pavilion Choral Rehearsal Room in Millennium Park.

About Chicago Children’s Theatre

Chicago Children’s Theatre aspires to enrich our community through diverse and significant theatrical and educational programming that engages and inspires the child in all of us.  Chicago Children’s Theatre focuses on the production of first-rate children’s theater in Chicago, with top writing, performing and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise. 

Led by Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell, Board Chair Todd Leland and Board President Tom Herman, the company is supported by a dynamic Board of Directors comprised of dedicated individuals from the fields of entertainment, philanthropy and business, and a committed Artistic Council of Chicago-based actors, directors, musicians and designers. 

Founded in 2005, Chicago Children’s Theatre strives to provide affordable and accessible theater for families and area school children. To enhance the impact of any given production’s themes, Chicago Children’s Theatre offers educational materials and programs for families and educators.

Chicago Children’s Theatre’s 2010-2011 season is made possible in part by the generosity of its sponsors:   United is the Exclusive Corporate Production sponsor.  ComEd is the Official Lighting sponsor.   Target is the official School Field Trip sponsor.  The Artists in the Classroom program is made possible by a grant from JPMorgan Chase.

For more information, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org or call 773.227.0180.

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