Children’s Theatre Company will take audiences from Motown to Middle Earth, Antarctica to Chicago, with stops at scenic byways along the way in its just-announced 2018-19 season.
The lineup includes four world premieres, among them a new adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and a musical composed by Lamont Dozier, the songwriter behind such megahits as the Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go” and Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You).”
CTC also will bring back “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” a box-office smash earlier this winter.
“Thematically, there are lots of journeys — small to epic, physical to emotional — as we learn that we can all find or be heroes,” said artistic director Peter Brosius. “These are plays of awakening and learning that are full of humor, care and delight. They ask us to see the world in new ways.”
The eight-show roster kicks off with the premiere of “The Best Summer Ever!” by celebrated Minnesota raconteur Kevin Kling, accompanied by composer Victor Zupanc; Brosius will direct this work, which celebrates the warm days in Minnesota (July 12-29).
Next up is the Dozier musical “Last Stop on Market Street,” adapted by playwright Cheryl West (“Akeelah and the Bee”) from a Newbery Award-winning book by Matt de la Peña. The story follows a suburban 6-year-old’s bus ride through the city with his Nana. Director Henry Godinez, from Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, makes his Children’s Theatre debut for this coproduction with Chicago Children’s Theatre (Sept. 15-Oct. 21).
Playwright Carlos Murillo also makes a CTC debut with “I Come From Arizona.” This show, which is getting its professional premiere under the direction of DePaul University professor Lisa Portes, orbits an adolescent girl in Chicago who, in a global perspectives class, discovers things about herself and her family at a time of frightening immigration raids (Oct. 9-Nov. 25).
Actor Reed Sigmund, who has been triumphant as the Grinch, returns to take up his mean, green mantle for the fifth time when the Dr. Seuss show returns for the holidays, with Brosius again directing (Nov. 6-Jan. 6, 2019).
CTC is hosting a British adaptation of the 1938 classic children’s book “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” about the painter and his vaudeville act. Emma Earle, artistic director of Pins and Needles Productions, directs (Jan. 15-Feb. 24).
Brosius also will direct the revival of Rosanna Staffa’s “The Biggest Little House in the Forest,” adapted from the book by Djemma Bider and aimed at preschoolers (Jan. 29-March 10).
“The Hobbit,” adapted and directed by British theater auteur Greg Banks, is the penultimate show in the CTC roster. Banks, whose works include “Robin Hood” and “Antigone,” typically uses an ensemble to play all the parts (March 12-April 14, 2019).
The CTC season concludes with a homegrown production of Roald Dahl’s mighty “Matilda,” under the direction of Brosius and featuring choreography by Linda Talcott Lee (April 28-June 23, 2019).
The show promises to be a girl-power romp, said Brosius, who added “the smallest person can rise and make the biggest changes.”