Elmhurst Children’s Theatre lands a new home; After 85 years, a place for programs, lessons, performances

Elmhurst Children’s Theatre (ECT) has announced that their 85-year-old organization will be leasing a space at 121 W. First Street (formerly the Elmhurst Hospital Pink Elephant storefront) to use as their primary rehearsal and class space for the 2023-24 season.

“We are thrilled to finally have a home base in Elmhurst, centrally located downtown for our cast members, students and their families,” said ECT president Hilary Simonds.

For decades, ECT has relied on the generosity of area churches, schools and community groups to hold their rehearsals and programming. While the Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts (ECPA) continues to move forward with plans for a space for live theatre, ECT will continue to partner with local schools for their performances.  With a new space secured and dedicated to supporting ECT, its programming, and hundreds of Elmhurst children, ECT looks forward to settling into its new home base, a big step forward for the organization.

85 years history, background

Recently celebrating its 85th year in the community, ECT began as a series of children’s productions at Irion Hall on the campus of Elmhurst University in 1937. In 1948, Dr. C.C. Arends, director of both Elmhurst College Theater and Elmhurst Community Theatre productions, offered sponsorship of an Elmhurst community children’s theatre.  Today, ECT proudly continues the tradition of its founders, bringing the Elmhurst community together to enjoy high-quality productions and enriching the lives of children through involvement in the performing arts. Once sponsored by Elmhurst’s PTA Council, ECT is now a self-supporting 501c3 non-profit organization, sustained through participation fees, class tuition, ticket sales and donations of all sizes from our committed community.

Children in fifth through eighth grade who live in Elmhurst or attend District 205 or parochial schools in Elmhurst may audition for ECT productions. ECT stages two main stage productions with a full pit orchestra, a summer double feature show and the Unintentionally Hilarious Sketch Comedy Troupe each year, hiring professional directors and relying on parent volunteers to manage productions and rehearsals, create costumes, props and sets. Classes and camps are offered throughout the year for children in first through eighth grades.

Located on First Street, across from the Metra station, the former Pink Elephant space has remained vacant since June of 2019.  Now home to ECT, this space remains part of the land slated for development by the Elmhurst Centre for Performing Arts.

As a parent who has been directly involved with ECT, Shawna Roubitchek, ECPA managing director, understands firsthand the challenges ECT Board, volunteers, and participants face with each show, camp, and class.

“ECPA is thrilled that the Pink Elephant space is a great fit for ECT,” she said. “It will allow Elmhurst children to imagine, create, and continue to hone their craft in the heart of Elmhurst City Centre.  [The fact] that ECT’s new home is a space that will hold future live productions is kismet.”

ECT will open our doors to children in the community starting on Monday, June 19 with auditions and rehearsals for the upcoming Summer Double Feature program –  two different Broadway shows performed back-to-back at Timothy Christian Auditorium on July 20, 21 and 22.  The first show features students in grades 4-7 and is a fan favorite. Disney’s The Lion King Kids is a one-act musical designed for young performers, based on the Broadway production directed by Julie Taymor and the 1994 Disney film. The show will be directed by Jeremy Nemec, music directed by Lisa Griffith, assisted by ECT and York drama alum Aidan Costanzo.   After a short intermission, ECT’s cast of students in grades 6-9 will take the stage for a one-act performance of the 2007 Broadway show Legally Blonde Junior, based on the book by Amanda Brown and the MGM hit movie starring Reese Witherspoon.  Legally Blonde Jr will be directed by Kelly Bricker, joined by ECT and York drama alumni Kathryn King as music director and CeCe Lampa as choreographer. One ticket is good for both shows. More information including advanced online ticket sales is available at ectshows.com