Children's Theatre Company Readies 50th Anniversary Season

The artists are getting ready for CTC's 50th anniversary season.

The artists are getting ready for CTC's 50th anniversary season.

The Children's Theatre Company may be about to start its 50th anniversary season, but the venerable, award-winning venue isn't looking backward.

"There are a lot of ways to do a retrospective, but we felt that it was best to look forward," says artistic director Peter C. Brosius. "We have contemporary stories and classics."

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CTC has spent five decades creating new works for children and audiences of all ages. The 2015-16 season continues that dedication as it features five premiere productions.

It starts with Akeelah and the Bee (September 1 to October 11), a stage version of the 2006 film, where a young girl finds the strength to deal with a tough neighborhood through spelling.

Once the production closes in Minneapolis, it will transfer to Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., with the Twin Cities cast.

Greg Banks -- director of the current Huck Finn at CTC -- will give his signature touch to The Jungle Book (September 29 to December 6), told via a five-person cast.

That's followed by The Snowy Day (February 9 to March 20, 2016), which takes stories by Ezra Jack Keats and brings them to the stage. The show arrives on the 100th anniversary of Keats's birth.

"He grew up really poor in New York City, but he had this gift to see the beauty," Brosius says.

Animal Dance (March 22 to May 1, 2016) says it all in the title. The new work, choreographed by Ann Carlson, is where the worlds of young animals and young people intersect.

Working on the show so far has been a thrill, especially as the production doesn't use trained animals, Brosius says.

The season ends with the premiere of a musical version of Jeff Kenney's wildly popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid (April 12 to June 5, 2016).

Other productions for the 2015-16 season include The Wizard of Oz (November 3 to January 3) for the holiday season, and David Gonzalez's The Frog Bride (January 12 to February 18).

While the onstage season looks ahead, CTC does have plans for to commemorate its past. On August 9, the company takes over Target Field to screen A Year with Frog and Toad, a filmed version of the show that premiered in Minneapolis in 2002 and went on to Broadway. Other special guests will be announced for the event (and you can be guaranteed of not seeing the Twins lose that evening).

Later on, there will be a fundraiser on September 12, and an open house next year on February 15. The company has also begun looking through its archives, housed at the University of Minnesota, to pull together additional retrospective material.

The contributions of the company are clear. "We've done over 200 new plays and are one of the few theaters to have an acting company," Brosius says, while noting that the acting apprenticeship program has also developed numerous actors. "We're going to celebrate that throughout the year."

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