Between teddy bear tea parties and dress-up escapades, you get your fill of drama at home. But a local theater festival promises to turn your little actor into a happy audience member. Get tickets now for the Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) 2014 Stages, Sights & Sounds Festival, held May 6-24 at venues across downtown. It reels kids in with several family performances, including some by troupes from Australia and Spain, plus readings from acclaimed children’s book authors.

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The Overview
CHF has shuffled great children’s theater to town for 15 years. This year’s festival is the largest in its history, and has more than 30 international and local artists offering 48 programs in a three-week period. Productions range from Japanese folktales to offbeat romps à la Yo Gabba! Gabba!, and there’s not a bad seat in the house. For the first time, theater groups from Spain and Australia are in the mix. And celebrated authors are set to appear, too, doing readings of books your kiddo may not yet know, but will certainly love.

Shows are appropriate for kids ages five and up (check individual show descriptions for recommendations) and, best of all, tickets are just $14 for adults and $7 for children.

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Plays to See
Tickets are going fast, but there are still shows you can nab seats to. We recommend Fluff by Australia’s Cre8ion theater company, running May 17 & 18. In a style that hints at Yo Gabba Gabba!, the show introduces you to the offbeat world of a traveling trio who rescue long-lost misfit toys. It features a colorful mix of sound, story, video and and vacuuming as toys are recovered.

Also check out Kaguya: The Bamboo Princess and Other Stories (running May 24) from theater group Nori Sawa, based in Japan and the Czech Republic. It re-imagines a legendary Japanese folktale about baby discovered inside a bamboo shoot. With inventive costuming and puppetry, it pieces together Kaguya’s world, from her adoptive parents to her many admirers in a magical way. Both Fluff and Kaguya are presented at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater in Lincoln Park.

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Authors to Catch
Stick around for readings from children’s book authors Timothy Basil Ering and Jon Scieszka. Timothy is the author-illustrator of the popular children’s books The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone and Necks Out for Adventure, and is known for wordplay and expressive illustrations. At the event (held May 10 at Storefront Theater), he reads from his newest book, The Almost Fearless Hamilton Squidlegger, and creates original illustrations. Jon Scieszka, named a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Librarian of Congress, reads May 18 at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater. Jon is the bestselling author of more than 25 books for kids, including The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. He wins kids over with humor, so expect giggle fits.

Get Your Tickets
Tickets are $14 for adults and $7 for children (17 and under) and are on sale at chicagohumanities.org or via the CHF Box Office at 312-494-9509 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Venues are:
Chicago Cultural Center
77 E. Randolph St.
The Loop

Storefront Theater
66 E. Randolph St.
The Loop

Victory Gardens Biograph Theater
2433 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park

For more info and to see the complete schedule, go to chicagohumanities.org.

Will you go to this theater spectacular? Let us know in the Comments!

— Kelly Aiglon