Who doesn’t love a party with music, dancing and sweet cake?
You’re cordially invited to enjoy Doll Face Has a Party!, a world premiere virtual puppet show now streaming for free on CCTv: Virtual Theatre and Learning from Chicago Children’s Theatre, the company’s new YouTube channel.
Chicago Children’s newest virtual offering is a charming, zany, 10-minute toy theater show directed by Brian Selznick, writer and illustrator of “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” and “The Houdini Box,” and the illustrator of the 20th anniversary “Harry Potter” box set. The show is based on the 1994 children’s picture book written by Pam Conrad and illustrated by Selznick.
“At the time, the book was a sweet story about a doll who throws herself a party with her friends knife, fork, spoon and plate,” says Selznick. “Twenty five years later, my friend Jacqui Russell asked me if I would help to turn ‘Doll Face Has a Party!’ into a puppet show. She thought that children might especially enjoy it during this time of quarantine because Doll Face never leaves her home, throws a party because she is bored and makes friends with the items around her house.”
Bottom right is Brian Selznick with Doll Face, courtesy Brian Selznick.
With this idea in mind Selznick directed the show remotely from his home in San Diego, while Chicago puppeteers Will Bishop and Grace Needlman designed, performed and filmed the show in their apartment in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.
New York actor James Lecesne, founder of The Trevor Project, voices all of the characters including Doll Face, Knife, Fork, Spoon, Plate and Chair. Popular New Orleans jazz band Tuba Skinny performs the show’s swingin’ music score. Additional music is by Robin Rapuzzi. Sound design is by Kevin O’Donnell.
Doll Face Has a Party! was produced by Jacqueline Russell, Co-Founder and Artistic Director, Chicago Children’s Theatre. It dropped on YouTube on Saturday, June 20, as part of Chicago Children’s Theatre’s BOING! 2020 virtual summer festival. It marks the second collaboration between Selznick and Chicago Children’s Theatre, which presented a critically acclaimed, world premiere puppet version of his book “The Houdini Box” at Chicago’s Mercury Theatre in 2012.
Doll Face Has a Party is the second “prime time” virtual puppet show created for CCTv by Chicago Children’s Theatre since the company pivoted from creating live to delivering virtual productions directly to families' homes in response to the current Covid pandemic.
It joins CCT’s first video production, Frederick: A Virtual Puppet Performance, voiced by film, TV and stage star Michael Shannon. Frederick launched CCTv in April and already has 10,000 views on YouTube alone.
In addition to original shows, CCTv boasts a growing play list of short, “how to” videos on theater crafts like costume design, prop making, puppetry and coloring activities. CCTv also hosts more than a dozen original short plays created and submitted by families during quarantine to CCT’s Ralla Klepak Foundation Play@Home Contest.
Chicago theater artists Will Bishop and Grace Needlman designed, puppeteered and filmed Doll Face Has a Party! in their Bridgeview apartment as Brian Selznick directed via his home in San Diego.
Brian Selznick's cover illustration for Pam Conrad's book "Doll Face Has a Party!"
Play@Home classes: More online learning opportunities from Chicago Children’s Theatre
In addition to its new YouTube channel, Chicago Children’s Theatre offers a robust line-up of virtual Play@Home classes and camps for this summer. For children on the autism spectrum, Chicago Children’s Theatre’s Red Kite Project continues to offer classes like Shakespeare and Autism and upcoming virtual camp programming in July and August.
All online education delivered by Chicago Children’s Theatre uses live, interactive online group learning sessions via Zoom, supplemented with at-home assignments that keep children engaged and active while away from school and stuck at home. Together, online learning from CCT helps build skills like creativity, resourcefulness, confidence and collaboration.
To learn more and register, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org.
About Chicago Children’s Theatre
“The Chicago theater scene is legendarily vibrant, so naturally a number of companies tailor productions to younger audiences. The cream of the crop is Chicago Children’s Theatre.” – Chicago Tribune
Chicago Children’s Theatre was founded in 2005 with a big idea: Chicago is the greatest theater city in the world, and it deserves a great children’s theater. Nearly 15 years later, Chicago Children’s Theatre is the city’s largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families, and has established a national reputation for the production of first-rate children’s theater, with professional writing, performing, and directorial talent and high-quality design and production expertise.
In January 2017, the company celebrated the opening of its new, permanent home, Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Station, located at 100 S. Racine Avenue in Chicago’s West Loop community. The building, formerly the Chicago Police Station for the 12th District, was repurposed into a beautiful, LEED Gold-certified, mixed-use performing arts, education and community engagement facility that now welcomes all Chicago families.
CCT provides tens of thousands of free and reduced price tickets to under-resourced schools each season in partnership with Chicago Public Schools.
CCT also continues to grow its performing arts and STEAM education programs, offering classes, workshops, winter and spring break camps, and summer camps for ages 0 to 13.
Last year, Chicago Children’s Theatre won the 2019 National TYA Artistic Innovation Award from Theatre for Young Audiences/USA. In addition, Chicago Children’s Theatre has garnered six NEA Art Works grants, and in 2017, became the first theater for young audiences in the U.S. to win a National Theatre Award from the American Theatre Wing, creators of the Tony Awards.
Chicago Children’s Theatre is led by Co-Founders, Artistic Director Jacqueline Russell and Board Chair Todd Leland, with Board President Armando Chacon.
For more, visit chicagochildrenstheatre.org.