In an inspired piece of artistic and administrative “casting,” the Chicago Children’s Theatre, which bills itself as “the largest professional theater company devoted exclusively to children and young families,” announced Thursday that it has hired Frank Maugeri for the newly created position of Community Programs Artistic Director.
Maugeri, a true theatrical magician with a wildly creative mind, comes to Chicago Children’s Theatre (CCT) after serving as producing artistic director for Chicago’s now-defunct Redmoon Theater for two decades. His chief responsibility in his new role will be “to guarantee that education comes first at CCT,” particularly as it relates to the company’s first-ever, permanent home, currently under construction in Chicago’s West Loop.
In his new position, Maugeri will report to CCT’s artistic director, Jacqueline Russell, and interim managing director Steve Abrams. And, according to a prepared statement “he will support Russell’s artistic season by designing and implementing innovative classroom activities, dynamic curriculum development and audience engagement opportunities that reflect the theater’s overall programming.”
In addition, given the new opportunities for growth presented by CCT’s new permanent home, Maugeri will focus on the construction and implementation of the company’s expanded educational programs, “creating a fresh brand identity to support the education department’s goals and vision, and serving as the primary spokesperson for CCT’s educational programming and community outreach.”
Noted Russell: “We are so thrilled to officially welcome Frank into the Chicago Children’s Theatre family. … Frank has had countless, incredible experiences working with Chicago children, creating hands-on, interactive learning experiences that not only entertain, but empower children, help them boost their creativity and confidence, and help gain a competitive edge by teaching life skills like how to think fast, solve problems, and be better team players.”
Said Maugeri: “I look forward to the opportunity of helping transform a past police station [an adaptive re-use of the former, 12th District Police Station at 100 S. Racine] into a performing arts home. I can’t wait to develop curriculum, train teachers, create cutting-edge artistic projects for young people of many backgrounds and abilities, establish partnerships, develop a think tank for youth art and education, cultivate education stakeholders, and more than deploy theater instruction, develop creative education opportunities that integrate science, technology, engineering, and math into our curriculum. I hope to expand the theater’s work to include teens, and perhaps even create some family events and experiences.”
The first phase of the facility’s activities is slated to open in January, with classrooms and support space where CCT’s educational programming will be headquartered. Phase one also includes a flexible, 149-seat studio theater for student performances, Red Kite interactive theater for students with autism, and professional shows. Phase two will be completed in 2020, and will boast a second, state-of-the-art, 299-seat mainstage theater.
Maugeri has been an expert collaborator, community builder, ritual maker, educator and inventor of innovative curriculum and artistic programming throughout his career. During his long tenure with Redmoon he mentored hundreds of young designers, artists, performers, and educators from across the nation, while helping guide the institution’s art, education and community engagement. As a Redmoon artist, Maugeri served as a conceiver, director, and designer of countless spectacles and interactive events, including Redmoon’s longest-running production, “The Cabinet,” and co-director of its final production, “The Devil’s Cabaret.”
Maugeri also co-directed such Chicago-centric events as the closing ceremony of the Great Chicago Fire Festival, elements of the groundbreaking ceremonies for Millennium Park and components of the grand opening of Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago.
A graduate of Columbia College Chicago, Maugeri is trained in animation, sculpture and object design.