Victory Gardens, Adventure Stage offer creative workshop

Holiday Drama Kids is a brand new partnership between two of Chicago's most respected theater companies. Adventure Stage specializes in children's theater; Victory Gardens' Arts-Education outreach programs target high-school students. Joining forces has allowed both organizations to expand their reach, and means the program can serve a wider range of kids - from 8 to 18.

The first Holiday Drama Kids workshop is Monday, December 29 at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater in Lincoln Park, and puppet-making will be the theme.

The day will start with theater games - icebreakers to get the kids up on their feet. Then we will explain that all people are storytellers and how fun it is to do that. The kids will work in small groups to develop a story, and then actually build their own puppet characters out of the materials provided for them - paper towel rolls to soda bottles to buttons, yarn, string, fabric remnants, just about anything you can think of. The kids will work on their story and then perform them for each other using their own puppets on the main stage at the Biograph.

A special perk for all registrants is the chance to come see Victory Gardens' holiday musical The Snow Queen for half-price in advance of their workshop. The Snow Queen features AMAZING puppets created by Blair Thomas, founder of Redmoon Theater, so seeing The Snow Queen – which runs through December 28t only - is the perfect way to study up before the workshop.

Victory Gardens and Adventure Stage will also offer two more Holiday Drama Workshops during the current school year: A President's Day Mask Workshop on Friday, February 13 at Adventure Stage Chicago's Vittum Theater, and a three-day playwriting workshop during Spring Break in April, at both locations.

All workshops are recommended for ages 8 to 18. Cost is $15/day per child, or $25 for two children of the same family. Registration is required. Go to either theater's web site – or – for more information or to download an application for the December 29 workshop.

For additional information: at Victory Gardens, contact Robert Cornelius at 773-549-5788 ext. 2134 or; at Adventure Stage Chicago, contact: Merissa Shunk at 773-342-4141 or


Budding puppeteers will learn about the various styles of puppetry, create original puppets, and share their work on the Biograph mainstage. Discounted tickets to VG's puppet-infused production of The Snow Queen will be offered as a pre-workshop perk. Light snacks will be provided.

Monday, December 29
9am - 1pm
Victory Gardens' Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago


Kids can spend the day creating original masks and sharing scary stories while learning the fundamentals of mask performance on the ASC Stage. Light snacks will be provided

Friday, February 13, 2009
9am - 1pm
Adventure Stage Chicago's Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble St., Chicago

Tuesday-Thursday, April 7-9, 2009

Young scribes will develop their own stories; see ASC's production of Katrina:The Girl Who Wanted Her Name Back, and create original plays in small groups to perform on the ASC stage. Light snacks will be provided on Tuesday and Wednesday. Lunch will be provided on Thursday.

Tuesday April 7 & Wednesday, April 8
9am - 1pm
Victory Gardens' Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago

Thursday, April 9
9am - 4pm
Adventure Stage Chicago's Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble St., Chicago

All workshops recommended for ages 8-18. Cost: $15/day per child, or $25 for two children of the same family. Registration is required. At Victory Gardens, contact Robert Cornelius at 773-549-5788 ext. 2134 or At Adventure Stage Chicago, contact: Merissa Shunk at 773-342-4141 or

For more information, please visit or

How to make a found object puppet

Gather materials from around the house (a great place to look is the recycling bin!) You want plastic bottles, boxes, cartons, scraps of paper and fabric, anything old and odd can be incorporated into your puppet. You will also need 3-5 wooden dowels and a hot glue gun.

Design how you want your puppet to look. It might help to pick a character from a story that you already know (or one you've written). Draw a picture of what you'd like your final puppet to look like.

Begin building your puppet. Start by laying out the body of the puppet. Attach all of the objects that make the body and head. You can then paint or glue on fabric, paper, or felt to create the clothes and face of the puppet. If you decide to make arms and legs that can move then you need to attach wooden dowels to each hand and foot and then attach them to the puppet body with arms and legs made out of fabric or jointed with string.

Attach the last wooden dowel to the body of the puppet.

Practice manipulating your puppet in front of a mirror so that you can see the various emotions and actions that can be communicated by your puppet.

Have fun using your puppet to share stories with your friends and family!

Sources: Adventure Stage Chicago - & Victory Gardens Theater –



Hold on tight, because Victory Gardens Theater's smash hit winter musical The Snow Queen - conceived by Chicago folk music legend Michael Smith, Tony Award-winning director Frank Galati, and master puppeteer Blair Thomas & Co - is sledding back into town for her third season as Chicago's #1 alternative to traditional holiday fare.

Based on Hans Christian Andersen's beloved winter tale about a boy who is lost in the cold, and the girl who won't give up until she finds him, Victory Gardens' The Snow Queen is the rare family musical that sings to children, and speaks to adults. Eye-popping puppetry, warm storytelling, and a chillingly beautiful score combine for "a terrific holiday show in a great theater " (Chicago Sun-Times) and "the nicest present we've gotten for the holidays" (Time Out Chicago)

Meet Kai and Gerda - the best of childhood friends. But tragedy strikes when Kai's eye and heart are pierced with frozen shards from the Devil's mirror, and the loving boy Gerda knew vanishes. The evil Snow Queen has put Kai under her trance and spirited him away to her palace of snow and ice. Wooden soldiers, talking reindeer, a sly enchantress, robber girls and lost children swirl in her mysterious spell. But it is up to Gerda to brave the Snow Queen's icy ire and bring Kai home to the love that awaits him.

Victory Gardens' live musical version of The Snow Queen debuted in 2006, and quickly became one of the biggest hits in the company's 33-year history. In its second outing last holiday season, the original production returned with a magical new scenic design by top Chicago designer Jeff Bauer, inventive new choreography by nationally-acclaimed actor/dancer/director Jim Corti, and the same haunting, hilarious folk music score that charmed young and old alike.

Reprising their roles for year three are award-winning actress Cheryl Lynn Bruce as The Storyteller, and Blair Robertson as Gerda. Patrick Andrews, who played Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka at Chicago Shakespeare Theater this summer, and appeared in House Theatre's The Sparrow, is new to the cast as Kai. Backing Smith live on stage are The Snow Queen band, a who's who of Chicago's top folk musicians, who also play various fairy tale characters in the show: Barbara Barrow, Sue Demel, Bob Goins, Cathy Norden, and Anthony Shepherdstone.

Also returning are Tony-winning director Frank Galati, choreographer Jim Corti, master puppeteer Blair Thomas, Meredith Miller (co-puppet designer), Jeff Bauer sets), Tatjana Radisic (costumes), Jenna McDanold (lights) and Joe Cerqua (sound). Puppeteer/dancers are Jackson Evans, Nicole Pellegrino and Lindsay Noel Whiting. Tina M. Jach is production stage manager.

Performances run through December 28 at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago. The Snow Queen is recommended for children eight and up. For tickets and information, call the Victory Gardens box office, (773) 871-3000, or visit


· Free post-show discussions with the cast and crew are held after every Wednesday performance.


· Audio descriptions for patrons who are blind or have low vision: Friday, December 19, 7:30 pm; Sunday, December 28, 3 pm

· Word for word captioning for patrons who are hearing impaired: Saturday, December 20 at 3 pm

· Sign language interpretation for patrons who are hearing impaired: Saturday, December 20, 3 pm


· 20 @ $20: Victory Gardens always has 20 seats on sale for every show, for only $20 - in advance, not just day-of. Limit 4 per customer. Subject to availability. Restrictions apply.

· The CD Songs of the Snow Queen: soundtrack featuring 11 original songs from Chicago's favorite homegrown holiday musical, for $15. Go to to download a FREE single and to sample snippets of Chicago folk legend Michael Smith's wonderful songs.

· The Snow Queen Holiday Gift Pack: two discounted tickets to The Snow Queen and the new Songs of The Snow Queen CD, packaged in a festive snowflake gift bag for $89. Buy in person at the Biograph, or learn more online at

· Buy a 5-Play Victory Gardens subscription, and get a free CD!: Purchase a five-play Victory Gardens subscription for as little as $80, and get a FREE Songs from the Snow Queen CD.


Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was born in the slums of Odense,Denmark, the son of a shoemaker and a washerwoman. He went to university in Copenhagen where he became known for his poetry. His first book of fairy tales was published in 1835, followed by many other volumes of children's stories, almost one a year, until 1872. He wrote more than 150 fairy tales in his lifetime, including The Little Mermaid, The Emperor's New Clothes, and The Ugly Duckling, and his stories have been translated into over 100 languages.

Tall and skinny with a big nose, Andersen always thought that he was very ugly. Hence, his tales showed compassion for those who are outcast and suffering, and that there is a magical beauty even within the most unlikely characters. Because of his wonderful stories, which were not meant merely for children but for adults as well, Andersen became known as the greatest writer in Denmark, and he remains one of the most beloved children's authors in the world.

Michael Peter Smith (lyrics and music, musician) has been singing and composing since the 1960s, and more than 30 performers have recorded his rich and challenging songs. Smith's score for The Snow Queen echoes his past hits at Victory Gardens, his musical autobiography Michael, Margaret, Pat & Kate in 1994, winner of four Joseph Jefferson Awards, and Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal, his folk music homage to the world's great artists performed in 2000.

Smith also wrote the music for Chicago Children's Theater's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant, in collaboration with Blair Thomas earlier this year, as well as Frank Galati's staging of The Grapes of Wrath at Steppenwolf, which transferred to New York and won two Tony Awards. He is perhaps best known for writing "The Dutchman," a song that was popularized by Steve Goodman. Besides "The Dutchman," which Suzy Bogguss covered on her #1 selling Aces album, Smith classics and their interpreters include "Spoon River," inspired by the stories of Edgar Lee Masters, which was also recorded by Steve Goodman. Jimmy Buffet recorded "Elvis Imitators," Smith's tongue in cheek ode to the King's legions. "Dead Egyptian Blues," a song about ex-pharaohs and their riches was recorded by Trout Fishing in America. Other Smith classics include "Crazy Mary," a song David Allan Coe recorded, and "Last Day of Pompeii" - a smooth jazz number about the city's impending disaster, on recordings by Trout Fishing in America, Anne Hills, and the swing recordings of Harmonious Wail.

Smith's recordings include "Michael Smith" (1986), "Love Stories "(1987), "Time" (1994), and "Paradise Lost and Found" (2000). He continues to perform regularly, and has been seen at dozens of major folk festivals including the Kerrville Folk Festival, Black Mountain Festival, and Philadelphia, Owen Sound, Gamble Rogers Folk Festival, and Winnipeg Folk Festivals. For more information, go to

Frank Galati (co-author book and director) is a professional actor, director, screenwriter, and playwright. He earned national and international acclaim as adaptor and director of The Grapes of Wrath, which won two Tony Awards in 1989 for Best Direction of a Play and Best Play. In 1989, both the British Academy Awards and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated him for outstanding achievement in the category of best adapted screenplay for The Accidental Tourist. He has received nine Joseph Jefferson Awards for his work in Chicago theater: one for acting, five for directing, and three for writing and adapting. As Associate Director of the Goodman Theatre, Galati has directed The Government Inspector, She Always Said, Pablo, Passion Play, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Winter's Tale, The Good Person of Setzuan, and the adaptations Cry, The Beloved Country and Gertrude Stein: Each One As She May.

He is also an ensemble member at Steppenwolf, where, in addition to Grapes of Wrath, he directed his new adaptation of

Murakami's Kafka on the Shore earlier this season, and previously, after the quake, Homebody/Kabul, The Royal Family, Valparaiso, Morning Star, As I Lay Dying, Everyman, Born Yesterday, Earthly Possessions, Aunt Dan and Lemon, and You Can't Take it With You. Galati also directed the critically acclaimed production of Ragtime, which has played in Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. His most recent Broadway endeavor was The Pirate Queen, a musical by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, creators of Les Miserables and Miss Saigon. The show opened in Chicago and moved to Broadway in 2007. He has recently retired from the faculty of Northwestern University.

Blair Thomas & Co. (Puppet Design) is a company of collaborators founded by Blair Thomas, co-founder and former artistic director of Chicago's Redmoon Theater. In addition to Thomas' two years working On The Snow Queen with co-puppet designer Meredith Miller, recent credits include The Oxherder's Tale at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Cabaret of Desire at DCA Theatre, Trinity Repertory's A Christmas Carol, directed by Curt Columbus in Providence, Rhode Island, a theater for young audiences Fast Fish Puppet Theater with an original bunraku-style puppet show staged to Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition entitled The Rabbit's Tale, performed last April with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at Chicago's Symphony Center, The Oxherder's Tale at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in DC, and an original staging of Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire and Jacob Druckman's Reflections on the Nature of Water as collaboration with the chamber music group eighth blackbird at MCA. Before all this he had started Chicago's award-winning Redmoon Theater in 1989 and served as the artistic director and co-artistic director until leaving in 1998, during which time he was principal in the creation of all the productions, parades and pageants. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and was the first Jim Henson Artist in Residence at the University of Maryland.

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