What’s Playing at Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis

Girl wearing puppet socks before Babble Lab Show. Text says "MAR 10 - APR 14, 2024 BabbleLab at Children's Theatre Company"

Want to know what shows are coming to the Children’s Theatre Company? We provide parental reviews and kid-friendly guidance for current and upcoming plays and musicals at the most popular children’s theater in Minneapolis. The 2023-2024 CTC brings several exciting new productions, a Grinchy holiday favorite and a classic adventure down a rabbit hole.

Featured Image: Preschooler wearing puppet socks prior to Babble Lab at Children’s Theater Company.

Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Now Playing

    Alice in Wonderland

    Girl standing in front of the cut out of Anja Arora and Audrey Mojica, the two actresses playing Alice in the Children's Theatre Company production of Alice in Wonderland, Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Children’s Theatre Company captured the fantasy and whimsy of the children’s classic, Alice in Wonderland, while delivering a comic performance worthy of the whole family. The opening night audience had as many grandparents as kids laughing out loud at the physical comedy and witty humor.

    Photos of Alice in Wonderland

    FFTC was provided complimentary tickets for the show. All thoughts are my own.

    Alice in Wonderland

    The CTC production follows Alice as she falls down a rabbit hole into the curious world of Wonderland. A cast of 20 portrayed all our favorite characters from the book Alice in Wonderland, with a few additions from Through the Looking Glass.

    My 9-year-old particularly loved Tweedledee and Tweedledum. She was a little fearful for Humpty Dumpty up on a tall ladder.

    The entire show was dreamlike. Transitions would often have a wavy,  abstract feel, and Alice would often stop and narrate the way you do in a lucid dream. I think because of this, the storyline was a little hard for my daughter to follow at times. In retrospect, I wish we would have spent a couple days reading the Alice books prior to our visit. Having a basic idea of the story helped me to keep up with Alice’s whirlwind tour of Wonderland. 

    If you are looking for a play to see with the whole family, Alice in Wonderland will entertain all ages.

    About Alice in Wonderland

    Down the Rabbit-Hole
    Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice “without pictures or conversations?”

    So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her…

    February 13-March 31, 2024

    Know Before You Go

    1. This is a longer show, about 2 hours with a 20 minute intermission. 7pm shows will make for a late night with younger kids. Even my 9-year-old was drooping by the end. If your kids are younger, consider attending a matinee or dressing them in PJs , so they can go straight to their beds when you get home.
    2. Get ready for a rabbit hunt! There are a dozen white rabbits hidden around the lobby of the theater, see if you can find all 12 during your visit.
    3. The Jabberwock can be a little scary. If your child is sensitive, you may want to prepare them for it by learning the poem together. Knowing the poem, may help keep their mind off the scariness of the character.

    Personal Age Recommendation

    CTC recommends Alice in Wonderland for ages 6 and up. This is mainly because of length and the complexity of the story. Younger kids will enjoy the physical gags. As I mentioned above, I would recommend attending this play as a family. It is perfect for Grandma and Grandpa as much as your kids. Plus, if you have both younger and older kids, maybe your parents will take the little one out when they get fussy and let you enjoy the whole show for once.

    How to Dress for This Show

    Of course you never need to dress up for Children’s Theater, but sometimes it is fun. Here are some ideas I saw opening night:

    • If you are coming to a late show, pajamas may be the best way to dress. You can be comfy and go straight to bed when you get home (around 10pm).
    • The ensemble dresses in black and white patterns, which would be fun to incorporate if the whole family is dressing up.
    • Or you could each dress like you are going to a Mad Hatter Tea Party. 

    How to Take Alice in Wonderland with you.

    1. Read both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass before or after your visit. While the books will fill in details the play couldn’t incorporate, the play simplifies some of the more complex ideas of the books.
    2. Recite the Jabberwock poem together.
    3. Have an Alice in Wonderland movie night and watch the Disney version of the story. Pair this family night with a Mad Hatter Tea Party for dinner.
    4. Help build and play an Alice-themed mini golf course with Young Dance at Lake Monster Brewery on Saturday, March 23 2024. Learn more here
    5. Learn More! Watch Gianna’s Interview with China A. Brickey, who plays the Queen of Hearts in this production.

    Age Recommendations: Ages 6+
    Stage: UnitedHealth Group Stage
    Read the Book: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 

    Adapted for the stage by Sharon Holland 
    Music by Victor Zupanc 
    Directed by Peter C. Brosius 

    Gianna Interviews the Queen of Hearts!

    Babble Lab

    Incorporating physical humor, slight of hand and silly antics with early literacy, BabbleLab is a perfect introduction to theater for the littlest audience members.

    Photos of Babble Lab

    Autumn Ness in Children’s Theatre Company’s 2024 World Premiere Production of ‘Babble Lab’. Photos by Glen Stubbe Photography. FFTC Theme song by Christo XO. Video by XOAV Studio.

    FFTC was provided complimentary tickets for the show. All thoughts are my own.

    Babble Lab

    Babble Lab, created by CTC Company Member, Autumn Ness, is a cross between the Pandora’s Box myth and The Electric Company. When a wacky scientist (played by Ness), eats the alphabet she lets loose a whirlwind of erratic letters and nonsense words. Much of the letter action is projected onto the stage with lights. It was a lot of fun to watch the timing and choreography between Ness and the projected scenes.

    What to Expect at Babble Lab

    If this is your first time attending a preschool performance at Children’s Theatre Company, you should know that these shows take the best of live theatre and the best of a library story hour to create a show geared toward small kids and short attention spans. Like story time, it is okay if your child can’t sit still (as long as they stay off the stage) and audience members are expected to vocally interact. 

    As with most CTC early childhood shows, kids (and adults) can trade their shoes for puppet socks as they enter the theater if they wish.  The front and center rows are sized for and reserved for kids. Adults and kids who want to stay with their adults take the side and back seats.

    I find that my shy kids want to start out with me, but end up scooting toward the kid area by the end. My 3-year-old date was no exception. By the end she was completely rapt and had no problem standing away from us so she could see better. 

    About Babble Lab

    “This play is about discovering the power of your own voice, and learning to be fearless in using it. I want every
    preschooler that sees our show to find their own magical, musical, courageous, EPIC voice!”

    Autumn Ness

    Know Before You Go

    1. This is show is only 45 minutes.
    2. Arrive a little early, so you can pick out your puppet socks and then work out the wiggles or read a book together.
    3. The show is presented on the more intimate Cargill stage and restrooms are found right outside the theater. You will not be disruptive if you have to take a break in the middle of the show.

    Personal Age Recommendation

    CTC recommends Babble Lab for ages 0-105. I think the ideal audience would be age 4-5 and just beginning letter and sound recognition. However, my 3-year-old niece was completely absorbed in the show, so feel free to bring younger kids. Some older siblings came along with their families and still appeared to enjoy the show. If you bring older kids, after the show, you can discuss some of the special effects and how you could incorporate projection into your own at-home shows.

    How to Dress for This Show

    Dress for comfort and wear something on your feet that you can put puppet socks over (other socks or tights work well). If your kids don’t want to take off their shoes, they can wear the puppet socks on their hands, too.

    How to Take Babble Lab with you.

    1. Get some alphabet crackers to eat on the ride home or make alphabet soup when you get home.
    2. Pull out the refrigerator magnet letters and make words and nonsense words together.

    Age Recommendations: All Ages
    Stage: Cargill Stage
    Showing: March 9-April 14, 2024
    Age Recommendations: Created for PreK, Enjoyed by Everyone.
    By CTC Company Member Autumn Ness
    by Sarah Agnew

    Gianna Interviews the The Scientist!

    Upcoming Events - Children's Theatre Company 2023-2024 Season

    A Year With Frog and Toad

    April 23-June 16, 2024 

    Age Recommendations: All Ages
    Stage: United Health Group Stage 
    Read the Book Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

    Originally presented on Broadway by Bob Boyett, Adrianne Lobel, Michael Gardner, Lawrence Horowitz and Roy Furman.
    Music by Robert Reale 
    Book and Lyrics by Willie Reale 
    Directed by Peter C. Brosius 

    Upcoming Events - Children's Theatre Company 2023-2024 Season

    MOYA by Zip Zap Circus

    September 12-October 20, 2024 
    Age Recommendations: All Ages
    Stage: UnitedHealth Group Stage
    Watch the Trailer: MOYA Acrobatic Art Film

    You’ll relish this thrilling feat of acrobatics and rhythmic movement that celebrates the joy of sharing community with one another.
    Original Soundtrack Composed by Josh Hawks  

    Drawing Lessons

    October 8-November 10, 2024
    Age Recommendations: Best for middle grade school students and up!
    Stage: Cargill Stage

    A Children’s Theatre World Premiere Production.

    By: Michi Barall
    Directed by: Jack Tamburri

    Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    November 5, 2024 to January 5, 2025
    Age Recommendations: All Ages
    Stage: UnitedHealth Group Stage
    Read the Book: How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

    The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea!

    Book and Lyrics by: Timothy Mason
    Music by: Mel Marvin
    Choreography by: Linda Talcott Lee
    Directed by: Dean Holt
    Reed Sigmund and Company in Children's Theatre Company's 2023 production of 'Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!'. Photo by Glen Stubbe Photography
    Reed Sigmund and Company in Children's Theatre Company's 2023 production of 'Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!'. Photo by Glen Stubbe Photography

    Leonardo! A Wonderful Show About a Terrible Monster

    January 8-March 9, 2025
    Age Recommendations: Best for younger audiences
    Stage: Cargill Stage
    Read the Books: Leonardo, The Terrible Monster and Sam, The Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World by Mo Willems

    “The true measure of a monster is not in their appearance, but in their actions.”

    Created by: Manual Cinema
    Directed by: Sarah Fornace
    Adaptation by: Sarah Fornace and Drew Dir
    Music, Lyrics & Sound Design by: Ben Kauffman and Kyle Vegter
    Puppet Design by: Drew Dir and Lizi Breit

    Milo Imagines the World

    February 4-March 9, 2025
    Age Recommendations: All Ages
    Stage: United HealthGroup Stage
    Read the Book: Milo Imagine the World by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson

    “Maybe you can’t really know anyone just by looking at their face.”

    Book by: Terry Guest
    Lyrics and Music by: Christian Albright and Christian Magby
    Directed by
    : Mikael Burke

    Disney’s Frozen

    April 15-June 15, 2025
    Age Recommendations: All Ages
    Stage: United HealthGroup Stage
    Read the Books: The original fairytale: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen and/or an Anthology of 10 stories based on the world of Elsa & Anna: All is Found by Disney Books

    “Maybe you can’t really know anyone just by looking at their face.”

    Directed by: Tiffany Nicholas Greene
    Music and Lyrics by: Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez
    Book by: Jennifer Lee
    Based on: the Disney film written by Jennifer Lee and directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

    A Parent's Guide to Children's Theatre Company

    Age Appropriateness

    CTC researches well and does an excellent job of rating their shows appropriately. There have been very few times I have disagreed with their age recommendations. Some shows will be perfect for first time audience members while others will be geared toward tweens & teens. All ages are welcome at any shows and there is a “Quiet Room” at the back of theater on the left side of the main theater. If you require brighter lights and space to run around, the lobby usually projects the show on screens so you can watch while a smaller child works out the wiggles. When our youngest was a toddler, I would book family shows for times when the Minneapolis Institute of Art was open, so we would have access to the museum’s family room to play with blocks.

    Discounts and Coupons to CTC Performances

    Shows start at $15 in Price Level C. This is close to the prices of other children’s theatre’s around the Twin Cities. However, when you are making it a family outing, this pricing can still be out of reach for some families. We have never seen a legitimate coupon for any main stage performance at Children’s Theatre Company. However, there are several ways to get discounted tickets.

    CTC’s ACT Pass Program is a needs-based scholarship program for tickets, classes, and camps. You can read more about Joy’s experience with the ACT Pass Program here. In short, if you qualify for any type of assistance, school lunches, WIC, MA, etc., it is worth applying for this program.

    Besides the ACT Pass program, CTC suggests other special offers and ways to save on tickets. These include:

    1. Military ID discount: For adults with military IDs and partners of employed military.
    2. Plan Ahead with Preview performances: Tickets for the first Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday performances of each show can be purchased in advance and are substantially discounted.
    3. Be Spontaneous with Rush Tickets: Starting 2 hours prior to the show, you can show up at CTC and purchase unsold seats for $15 each at the ticket office. While this is the same price as the C Level tickets, the seats will often be better.
    4. Check reciprocal benefits. We recently saw a 10% off discount through AAA.
    5. Season Tickets. If you plan to see several or all the shows, than season tickets will net you the best prices.

    Family-Friendly Amenities

    CTC is built for families and offers several family-friendly amenities, including:

    • A Private Nursing Room.  Just ask the staff if you want to use this space (but remember in Minnesota you have a legal right to nurse your child anywhere and CTC will support this right). You can also use the room for prayer or other private needs.
    • Sensory Tools. The concierge desks will loan ear plugs, noise cancelling headphones and fidget toys as well as listening devices and other basic necessities.

    Theater Arts Training (TATS) Helps Kids Discovery the Artistic Process

    The ACT Pass Scholarship Program Makes All Patrons’ Theatre Experiences Possible

    Past Productions

    Some shows come back around on a regular basis. These are some shows we have reviewed in the past. Children’s Theatre Company provided our tickets to facilitate our reviews.

    Matthew Woody (Fievel) in the World Premiere of An American Tail the Musical at Children's Theatre Company. Photo: Glen Stubbe Photography.
    Matthew Woody (Fievel) in the World Premiere of An American Tail the Musical at Children’s Theatre Company. Photo: Glen Stubbe Photography.

    An American Tail is the final show in Children’s Theatre Company’s 2022-23 season. This world premiere musical adventure tells the story of Fievel Mousekewitz, a young mouse, who goes in search of his family when they are separated while immigrating to New York from Russia.

    Cover Photo: Matthew Woody (Fievel) in the World Premiere of An American Tail the Musical at Children’s Theatre Company. Photo: Glen Stubbe Photography.

    An American Tail Musical at Children’s Theatre Company

    While the story focuses on Fievel’s search for his family, it is also the story of his sister, Tanya, who never gives up hope of finding her big brother; of Tony, whose discovery of his love interest ultimately leads him to discover his purpose; and of Bridget whose drive to make the world a better place brings together diverse voices of mice from different economic backgrounds and cultural groups to overcome oppression. There is a lot of social commentary embedded into this fun, energetic musical.

    One of the things I love about Children’s Theatre Company is that it offers true family entertainment. Kids will enjoy this musical as much as their parents loved the film, because it is a great story. But, parents and grandparents will also find much to love – great choreography, thoughtful commentary on our world and the cross-generational entertainment we have come to expect from CTC.  

    Know Before You Go 

    • The army of cats are scary. If you have a sensitive child, you may want to prepare them for some short, but intense scenes or skip this show.
    • The music and choreography are so much fun in this show. You’re going to leave singing.

    Personal Age Recommendation

    Some of the cat scenes in this show are intense and a bit scary. Also, it is a two-hour show. For these reasons, I would recommend the musical for ages 8+.  CTC recommends this show for all ages.

    How to Dress for This Show

    There is no need to dress up for this show, but if you have some mouse ears left from a Disney trip, you would fit right in.

    Get Excited for the Show with An American Tail Family Night

    Dinner and a Movie

    American Tail the movie by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment is now considered an animated film classic of the 1980s. If you want to watch the film before seeing the musical, the only place I found it streaming is Amazon Prime and it is NOT free to Prime members. A $3.99 family movie night is still a pretty good bargain. You can get the DVD from the library, but used children’s DVDs are hit or miss.

    The blog Reel Fancy Dinners has created a dinner menu to go with An American Tail. Or you could plan an appropriate dinner together. The story is set in 1885 and the Mousekewitz family are Russian Jewish immigrants. What foods do your kids think would be appropriate for this meal?

    Play the Songs During Dinner

    Many of the songs from the American Tail album would make nice dinner background music. A few are sing-along worthy.

    Somewhere out There is, perhaps, the most famous song from the musical. It was nominated for an Academy Award and won two Grammy Awards the year the movie was released and had regular radio play (sung by Linda Ronstadt). Other fun songs on the album are There are No Cats in America and Never Say Never.

    The song Give Me Your Tire, Your Poor, quotes The New Collossus by Poet Emma Lazarus. This would be a great time to learn this short, but iconic poem. 

    All of these songs are available on Spotify and YouTube and are sung during the musical.

    Read the Book?

    This is not one of the CTC Productions based on a book. However, there was a short chapter book made in conjunction with the film in 1986. It is a relatively short chapter book with black and white illustrations. It could be read in one sitting prior to watching the movie and may add some descriptive background for kids. e of the libraries in the MELSA system carry the book, but I was able to get a copy through interlibrary loan. There are also used copies available online for under $10. It is definitely not necessary to read the book to enjoy the musical.

    The story in both the book and the musical starts in Russia in December as the Mousekewitz family celebrates Chanukah. Then follows the family to New York via an ocean voyage, where Fievel and his family get separated.

    About An American Tail

    An army of cats forces young Fievel Mousekewitz and his family to escape from Russia by boat. When a storm at sea separates them, Fievel arrives alone in the vast city of New York. In this riveting new musical based on the beloved animated film, the steadfastly optimistic Fievel makes his way as a new immigrant, encountering friends and foes (including a few scene-stealing cockroaches!). Despite everything stacked against him, Fievel clings to his dreams of a better life and reuniting with his family. Are they Somewhere Out There?

    “A lot of people, and maybe especially people of my generation, remember An American Tail as one of the animated film classics of the 1980s, so getting to work on adapting it has been thrilling, first of all, on that level. But looking at this material again through the lens of 2022 reveals the urgent timeliness—and indeed timelessness—of a story about America’s fundamental origins as a place people, or in this case mice, came from all over the world seeking a better life, the imperfect place they found when they got here, but the potential for that place to be the beacon it’s meant to be if only we can all work together. And, of course, it’s also just the story of a small, but very resourceful mouse, who gets separated from his family and tries to find them again.” – Itamar Moses.”

    Details and Information

    The World Premiere An American Tail ran April 25 – June 18, 2023, on the UnitedHealth Group Stage

    The Carp Who Would Not Quit and Other Animal Stories

    January 16-February 18, 2024

    Age Recommendations: Ages 4+
    Stage: Cargill Stage
    Read Ahead: Japanese Folktales: Classic Stories from Japan’s Enchanted Past compiled by Yei Theodora Ozaki

    Retellings of traditional fables and folktales from Japan and Okinawa teach important lessons of persistence, respect and kindness.

    By Reiko Ho and the Honolulu Theatre for Youth Ensemble
    Directed by Reiko Ho
    Cookin' Promotional Photo: Three chefs blowing and juggling fire
    Cookin’ at Children’s Theatre Company September 12-October 22, 2023. Image credit Broadway Asia Company LLC

    Cookin’ was so much more than anything I expected!  I did not expect to laugh so hard or be so engaged with the use of kitchen tools.  But I couldn’t stop watching.  And my face hurt from laughing so much. 

    -Gianna Kordatzky, FFTC

    Cookin‘ at Children’s Theatre Company is NOT a story based on a fairy tale or children’s book. This makes it harder to decide if the show is right for your family. So let me give you an idea of who would enjoy Cookin‘:

    • Families who love funny cooking competition shows.
    • Families who love physical comedy.
    • Families who love loud, percussion-driven music.
    • Families with kids with short attention spans who prefer audience-participation type shows.
    • Families who love choreographed martial arts.

    Cookin‘ (Nanta)

    This show, which originated in Seoul, South Korea, and has traveled all over the world to rave reviews, uses very few words to tell the story of a kitchen staff who has one hour to prepare a wedding feast with the “help” of the Head Chef’s goofy nephew. The chefs spend a great deal of that time, goofing around, playing tricks on each other, and beginning a budding romance. Can they finish the feast on time?

    I had the perfect kid to take as my date to this show. He loves watching cooking competitions, he laughs loudly at slapstick, he just started in the percussion section of his band, and he has never, NOT EVER (until this show) made it through a performance without LOUDLY whispering, “Is this almost done?”

    I did not expect that to change when we went to Cookin‘, but it did. Even though the show is an hour and a half without an intermission, the show was over before we knew it. At one point, my son was laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe.

    I really would LOVE to go back with my whole family before the show ends. It was so good.


    Dean Holt (Corduroy) and Autumn Ness (Nighttime Security Guard) in the Children’s Theatre Company production of “Corduroy.” Photo by Glen Stubbe Photography
    Dean Holt (Corduroy) and Autumn Ness (Nighttime Security Guard) in the Children’s Theatre Company production of “Corduroy.” Photo by Glen Stubbe Photography

    Corduroy, the story of a small teddy bear and his search for a friend and a button, has always been one of my favorite books. Don Freeman was able to tell a timeless children’s story while also making contemporary social statements without ever feeling preachy or forced. I never noticed that as a kid though; I just loved the idea of Corduroy wandering the department store at night and finding Lisa to love him at the end. It seems fitting that Don Freeman’s classic character should be made into a stage production because Don Freeman reportedly loved the theater.1 Join Corduroy, the night-time security guard, Lisa and her mother, and two silly mannequins for one of Children’s Theatre Company’s best laugh-out-loud, physical comedies.

    Corduroy, The Book

    One of the things that makes me LOVE the Corduroy book is the characters. Corduroy is both curious and full of wonder as he wanders the store at night. The night watchman is kindly and protective in the way he returns Corduroy to his place on the department store shelf when he finds him. Although probably located in New York City, this story could be about any little girl in any city in the United States. Lisa seems mature and compassionate in her choice to spend her savings on Corduroy above all the other toys in the store. Lisa’s mom, who readers only get to know through one drawing and one sentence, seems sophisticated, sensible and competent. For such a short book, it really does endear the reader to the characters.

    While preparing for this play, I learned several interesting things about Don Freeman and Corduroy.

    When Freeman decided to write Corduroy, it was with the idea of writing about someone who explores a department store at night2. I don’t know if it was his intention to ease childhood fears, but that was the effect for me. As an anxious child, the idea that I might accidentally end up somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be was something that worried me. It now worries my anxious children. The story plays on that fear, but ultimately leaves the reader reassured. The kindly night watchmen simply put Corduroy back where he belonged. Lost children should know that they can go to someone in charge to help them find there way back to mom and dad.

    Another goal of the author was to highlight the vast difference between the luxury we see in department stores and the simpler life most people live.

    While I find no official biography regarding Freeman’s inspiration for Lisa, writer Lisa Roseburg states Lisa was based on her as a child.3 A 1967 letter from the publisher to Freeman corroborates that statement. The character of Lisa is discussed, suggesting that Freeman use a real “negro” child to base his drawings of Lisa on “[t]o avoid  the slightest suggestion of caricature”.4 A couple years before the publication of Corduroy, Nancy Larrick published the now infamous article, The All-White World of Children’s Books5. It would appear that Freeman rose to Larrick’s challenge when creating the character of Lisa. Lisa may even be the reason his publisher changed its mind after it (and several other publishers) originally rejected the book2. Although, The Snowy Day was published in 1962 and won the Caldecott award in 19636, according to Larrick’s research, there were very few children’s books up through the late 60s that portrayed minority children at all and fewer still that portrayed them as normal, modern children. For the 1960s, these books were trailblazing.

    Don Freeman seems to have had a gift for taking big issues and making them appropriate for children. Based on the number of Corduroy bears in the audience, I wonder if his book is more popular today than when it came out? In my own books, it definitely has a place on my keep shelf.

    Corduroy, At The Children’s Theatre Company

    So here’s the thing about the play: It is NOT the book as I read it. It follows the same plot. It has the same characters, but most of what I described above as my reasons for loving the book are not in the play. You would think this would mean that I disliked the play, but I didn’t have time to reflect on the differences because I was laughing through the whole thing right through the final bow. Dean Holt is at his best in this production, performing stunts that obviously require a great deal of strength and agility without ever losing character. He absolutely delighted children and adults alike with his portrayal of Corduroy.

    Children’s Theatre’s adaptation of Corduroy adds a silly slapstick quality to the story. One that was, for the most part, always hidden in the story, but that I never saw. How would an otherwise sane nighttime security guard react to a commotion in the store with only a stuffed bear to be found? In the play, the night shift security guard is depicted as a bit of a blowhard who suffers the unlucky fallout of the inadvertent pandemonium caused by Corduroy’s single-minded quest for a BUTTON as she embarks on a chase around the department store. Autumn Ness, as the night-time security guard, reminds me of one of Kate DiCamillo’s Deckawoo Drive characters – a bit over-the-top, but endearing.

    Corduroy’s friend Lisa lost a bit of her maturity in exchange for more slapstick moments; and I identified with her mother, acting as the straight man to Lisa’s blundering attempts to help around the house, more than I did with the sophisticated drawing in the book. I think kids will identify with Lisa when it comes to trying to complete chores to their parents standards.

    Personal age recommendation:

    CTC recommends this show for ages 4+ and offers lap passes for tots 3 and under. Things to be aware of with younger kids are:

    • The length. The show is 90 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. Even my 8-year-old found it long, but that, again was probably the lateness factor. I recommend having an intermission plan based on your child’s needs. Pre-purchase snacks if an hour and half is a long time to go without food; plan to get to the restroom immediately if you think they’ll need it (otherwise they are likely to realize they have to go just as you are getting back to your seats), or find a quiet place where your child can dance the sillies out during the break.
    • Suspense. Sensitive kids might be affected by the comedy situations. They may start to feel very sad for the Nighttime Security Guard by the end, be a little fearful of the vacuum cleaner or distraught over the button or Lisa’s mishaps. This is a slapstick comedy and all comes out happy at the end, so they won’t be left upset.
    • The lights go out in one part. This was a little bit scary for some kids.

    About “Corduroy

    “Corduroy, with its title character’s quest for his missing button, is the story of a little toy bear’s very real need to find a ‘Friend’ and a place to call home, along with that of a little girl’s corresponding need to bring that bear home—as a Friend,” says Playwright Barry Kornhauser. “I’m absolutely delighted that this little adaptation of that story has found a home once again with all of its ‘Friends’ at Children’s Theatre Company where the play was first nurtured and produced. It is always a gift and a joy to work with Peter [Brosius] and his brilliant and passionate team as they bring classic children’s literature to life so vividly, so imaginatively, and so lovingly. Corduroy may have lost a button, but Corduroy has found its way back to the CTC stage, and for that I am ‘beary’ grateful.”

    “It is such a joy to bring Corduroy to our stage,” said Corduroy Director and CTC Artistic Director Peter C. Brosius. “This is a story that touches our hearts and has us rolling in laughter. Barry Kornhauser has brought his brilliant comic mind to this adaptation and created a truly delightful play of friendship, persistence and determination and what it means to never give up on your dreams . Corduroy inspires us all with his heart and his hope and we can’t wait to share it with you.”

    1 Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Don Freeman and his Children’s Books edited by Roy Freeman. (Page 8, Question 6).
    6 Association of Library Services to Children 1963 Caldecott Medal Winner.
    acrobats from Ethiopia balancing and
    Circus Abyssnia

    This brand new season begins with a show that was delayed from January 2022 to September 2022, and it has been worth the wait: Circus Abyssinia Tulu.

    I brought my 17-year-old daughter to the show.  I wrote about my education in motherhood of teens in our newsletter.  If you are interested in learning more about what happened in the audience, you can sign up for our weekly mailing list and learn hear some of the behind-the-scenes stories. Otherwise, check out what we thought of the show!

    Circus Abyssinia Tulu

    The story of Circus Abyssinia began long before it arrived at CTC. It wasn’t designed specifically for young audiences, but while watching kids of all ages will be in awe.  The little girl I was sitting next to kept hiding her face while at the same time not being to look away at the children’s theater stage.

    “We’re seriously over the moon to be coming back to Children’s Theatre Company,” state the creators, Bibi Tesfamariam and Bichu Shimellis. “With our new show, Tulu, we’ll be pulling out all the stops to celebrate the story of Ethiopian icon and Olympic legend, Derartu Tulu, the first African woman to win Olympic gold. After a delay of so many months, we’re more excited than ever to perform with the wonderful audiences of Minnesota again!”

    Derartu Tulu grew up in a small village where she tended cattle and lived to run up and down steep valleys, and over dusty plains where hyenas prowled. With breathtaking displays of circus virtuosity, Circus Abyssinia celebrates the ferocious skill and tenacity of young Derartu: how, unmatched in speed and guile, she chased her dreams all the way to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and won gold in the 10,000m with a heart-racing sprint to the finish.

    Diary of Wimpy Kid Set at Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN
    Photo by Kaitlin Randolph

    I brought my ten year old  to Diary of a Wimpy Kid because he was currently reading the Wimpy Kid books. I’m honestly not sure which of us enjoyed the show more. It was non-stop funny, but still managed to pull at our heartstrings and make us think a little. I came away with a little more of an understanding of the world that my tween boys navigate. I would definitely say you don’t need to be familiar with the books or movie to enjoy the musical, but I do have the audio version of the first book on order from the library now, and I’m looking forward to listening to it.

    If you love theater that is just pure fun, then Diary of a Wimpy Kid is your show. You don’t need to know the Diary of the Wimpy Kid book series to enjoy this middle school comedy. The music is amazingly catchy and the characters are endearing and funny. You’ll break out in laughter over the dreaded cheese touch, connect with Jeff Kinney’s popular character, Greg Heffley and his best friends.

    Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

    The Grinch is back in 2023 for Children’s Theatre Company’s holiday show. The musical follows and expands on the storyline of the original Dr. Seuss book with both original music and some music from the animated classic. The musical and lyrics were created by playwright Timothy Mason with music by Mel Marvin and adapted from How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. You’ll recognize “You’re a mean One, Mr. Grinch” which was originally written by Seuss and composer Albert Hague for the 1966 TV

    How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    “A miserly and miserable, ever-so-cantankerous Grinch has observed the despicable Christmas joy of the Whos with disdain, from a distance, for decades. Enough! In this favorite holiday story, filled with music and Seussian rhymes, he conceives a dastardly plot to destroy the holiday they love. It’s the smallest of the Whos, tiny Cindy Lou, who extends a hand. Through the combination of kindness and community, we witness not only a change in the course of Who-History, but the size and capacity of the cantankerous Grinch’s heart.

    “Since the moment I applied that first dab of green makeup, ten years ago, The Grinch has been my absolute favorite role to portray,” said Reed Sigmund. “It’s a character that’s endlessly rich with opportunities to dynamically explore the full spectrum of human emotions. And I love stories of transformation. This story reminds us that fear and hate are easy, but difficult growth and change are more rewarding for ourselves and our communities. Plus, it comes at a time of year when I get to pound gallons of Christmas cookies. This is a show I can’t wait to celebrate once more.”

    Know Before You Go:

    There are a few things parents will want to be aware of before heading to see The Grinch.

    • Don’t forget to Read The Book Ahead. If your copy of the Grinch has been tucked away since last Christmas, it is time to pull it out. Even my grade school kids have surprised me with how little they remember from year to year. The play will be better if you have recently heard the verse from the book.
    • The Grinch Can Be Scary. While CTC bills this as an All Ages show and plenty of smaller children enjoy the show each year, younger and more sensitive children can sometimes find the Grinch scary. If you think this might be your child, I recommend having a plan:
      • A lap pass might help – they are available for ages 3 and younger. You’ll save some money and keep your child cuddled close.
      • Take advantage of the quiet room in the back of the theatre. It can be enough for some children to just get out of the theater and then they can enjoy the show. 
      • Plan your visit for the January 5th Sensory Friendly performance, where the lights are kept on low and it is not quite as loud.
      • Plan to see the show when Mia is open. If one parent must leave with the youngest child while the rest of the family enjoys the show, you’ll have some place quiet to visit.
    • Vocal is Okay at this Show. If your child wants to shout out helpful suggestions to the Grinch (like how to say “Christmas”), let them. The rest of the audience loves the interaction.
    • Bring a Camera for photos with the Grinch cutouts and maybe come a little early or stay a little late for your chance. If you come early, you can also pre-order intermission treats.
    • Best Day to See the Grinch?: Make a fun Sunday and book your tickets for December 10th, when Mia is hosting its monthly Family Day. The theme will be “Rainbows and Reflections”.

    Personal Age Recommendation

    CTC recommends this show for All Ages. We think you know your kids best. If a large green Grinch might scare them, you can still give it a try with the options I list above.

    How to Dress for How The Grinch Stole Christmas

    A visit to the theater is a great excuse to get dressed up in your best Christmas finery, but plenty of people will go casual. I saw one little girl dressed up in her WWF costume – complete with cape and tights. If you can’t be that girl, at least be you.  You may want to wear layers, so you can remove some. The theater can get hot when it is packed.

    How to Take The Grinch Beyond the Theatre

    • The Grinch has been making appearances all over town this year, check our calendar for fun Grinch events around town.
    • I always find it fun to compare the various versions, read the book, watch the play and watch the movies or the 1966 classic cartoon and talk about what you liked about different versions.
    • Have a Grinchy dinner with split pea soup and roast beast. Find some fun party foods here.

    November 7, 2023-January 7, 2024

    Age Recommendations: All Ages
    Stage: Cargill Stage
    Run Time: Approximately 2 hours with a 20-minute intermission.
    Read the Book:  How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss 
    Book and lyrics by Timothy Mason 
    Music by Mel Marvin 
    Choreography by Linda Talcott Lee
    Directed by Peter C. Brosius

    Seeing the Grinch at Christmas is becoming a must-do Twin Cities tradition. We love Reed Sigmund in the title role. If you can only see one show this season, this one will make the whole family laugh out loud.

    Meghan Kreidler and Rick Miller and H Adam Harris puppeting The Lorax in Dr. Seuss's The Lorax at Children's Theatre Company, Minneapolis, MN. Photo by Dan Norman.
    Photo by Dan Norman

    The Lorax, a classic Dr. Seuss story, introduces our responsibility to the environment. In its usual exciting Children’s Theatre Co. fashion, we are transported into the colorful world of Truffula Trees, Brown Bar-ba-loots, Swomee Swans, and Humming Fish.  Giant puppets, a dazzling set, eye-popping costumes and props, lively music, and Seusstastical rhyme all convey the message of The Lorax.

    This musical  is based on Dr. Seuss’s story and expounds on the story of the Onceler. It fills in the details that picture book glosses over.

    Surrounded by a family that digs Miff Muffer Moof for a living, they frown on his creativity and ingenuity. “Just keep digging.” But his heart isn’t in it, and his family sends him packing.

    The Onceler hits the road in search of his fortune and comes upon a Paradise where the Truffula Trees grow. Everything lives in perfect harmony. That’s just the beginning of the story.

    The Lorax and the Onceler start off as friends and work together.  But they end up facing off in a war, a battle for their ideals.

    Age Recommendation:  Age 8+, but there was a five year old there who loved it.

    We are thrilled to bring our audiences the U.S. premiere of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, a powerful, witty and important story for all generations. We are excited to welcome the London production’s creative team to Minneapolis, and delighted that after our production the fabulous cast of Minnesota actors will all travel to The Old Globe in San Diego. Our partnership with The Old Globe and The Old Vic further advances our mission of reaching multigenerational audiences both in our state and across this country with extraordinary theatrical productions.

    Children’s Theatre Company Artistic Director, Peter C. Brosius

    Mathias Brinda in Children's Theatre Company's World Premiere of 'Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress' by juliany taveras, 2023. Photo by Glen Stubbe.JPG
    Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress at the Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sunday, October 8, 2023. Image by Glen Stubbe Photography and courtesy of CTC.

    Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino is one of the sweetest books I have ever read. I loved it the first time I read it. I was concerned about how Children’s Theatre Company and playwright julianay taveras would create a full-length play out of this short picture book without changing the story. The answer is, they didn’t. This short and sweet production comes in just under one hour. It covers the book without adding or subtracting. Some details are changed, but nothing substantial. If you love the book, you can count on CTC to do it justice.

    Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

    In this production, the amazing Joy Dolo, supports two full casts of youth actors. I saw the Tiger Cast with Scout Groshong in the lead role, and I share production photos from that group. Mathias Brinda, who played Morris with the Zebra Cast is our featured image. All photos are by Glen Stubbe and courtesy of Children’s Theatre Company.

    Personal Age Recommendation

    CTC recommends this show for everyone age 4 and up. It will be less appealing to older kids. The children in the story have circle time and free time, when Morris plays with the dress up clothes. This clearly sets it in preschool or kindergarten. This show is probably best for ages 8 and under.

    About Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress

    Age Recommendations: Ages 4+
    Runtime: 50 minutes
    Read the Book: Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress. Written by Christine Baldacchino and Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
    By juliany taveras
    Directed by Heidi Stillman

    Something Happened in our Town at Children's Theatre Company, Minneapolis Lola Ronning - Dean Holt - Kevin West - De'Anthony Jacksom, Zimmerman - Rajane Katurah,
    Photos by Glen Stubbe Photography courtesy of Children’s Theatre Company

    In their world premiere production of Something Happened in Our Town, Children’s Theatre Company doesn’t try to minimize the difficulty we face as a nation confronting racism. It doesn’t offer easy answers, and it attempts to offer unbiased portrayals of the people navigating a difficult experience because these characters represent the people of our town. 

    Something Happened in Our Town is the play based on the book of the same name by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzard and illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. 

    While the play does not offer easy solutions for adults, both the book and play offer children something they can do to make the world better: be kind to everyone, be inclusive, and don’t make assumptions about people without getting to know them. Simple, but not easy. We adults need to do our best to model this behavior. Really not always easy.

    A Dramatic Reading of the Book

    If you don’t have access to the book and want to read it before or after seeing the play, you can watch a dramatic reading of it by CTC here:

    About Something Happened in Our Town

    Friendships challenged, a world changed, and two young people struggling to make sense of it together. Follow friends and neighbors, Josh and Emma, as they navigate their way through an experience beyond their control and understanding.

    Josh and Emma have many questions about the tragic killing of a Black man by a White police officer. Real questions that deserve real answers. But during conversations over dinner, at bedtime, before and after school, their families (one Black and one White) find such answers don’t come easily. Layered with compassion and humor, this show invites you to walk alongside Josh and Emma as they confront uncertainty within their town and between themselves. More than just a “must see,” this play will help families more fully understand how their neighbors’ experiences might be different than their own.

    Featured Image Credit: Something Happened in our Town at Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis. Actors Lola Ronning, Dean Holt, Kevin West, De’Anthony Jackson, Calvin Zimmerman, Rajane Katurah. Photo by Glen Stubbe Photography courtesy of Children’s Theatre Company.

    Sign up for our Mailing List for More Twin Cities Family Fun

    Looking for a Weekly Round-up of Family Fun?

    Sign up for our email here!

    We respect your email privacy

    As an Amazon Associate Family Fun Twin Cities earns from qualifying purchases.

    2 thoughts on “What’s Playing at Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis”

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Scroll to Top