Neighborhood News

Emerald City Theatre Delivers Recorded Performance and 90,000 Books to CPS 2nd and 3rd Graders

Posted on February 22, 2018

Emerald City Theatre (ECT), in partnership with Magic Tree House author Mary Pope Osborne, recorded a performance of Magic Tree House: Showtime with Shakespeare from the Apollo Theater on Saturday, February 10 to be delivered to all registered CPS 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms in the coming weeks. All 60,000 CPS 2nd and 3rd graders are invited to watch the recording from their classrooms. The performance is part of Showtime for CPS Readers: Magic Tree House, a program that delivers the performance, along with a free companion Magic Tree House book to all CPS 2nd and 3rd graders, as well as an in-school drama residency and field trip for seven winning classrooms from across the city. Also provided is an original study guide written by ECT Education staff that helps integrate the show and book into Common Core standards.

Jane Fleming, CPS Director of Literacy, who attended the performance, explained why the Magic Tree House series is a perfect match for CPS’s literacy goals. “Series books are especially important at this critical stage of reading development. If a child gets hooked on one book in the Magic Tree House series, there are 50 more to choose from. Reading multiple books in a series helps 2nd and 3rd graders build reading fluency and the stamina for reading longer texts.”

Magic Tree House: Showtime with Shakespeare features Jack and Annie, the protagonists of the 56-book New York Times best-selling series, traveling to Shakespearean England to save a troubled production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The play is based on Magic Tree House #25: Stage Fright on a Summer Night. The script and lyrics were written by Jenny Laird and Will Osborne with music with lyrics by Randy Courts.

Ms. Osborne, in attendance with her husband, playwright Will Osborne, announced a second gift of 30,000 additional Magic Tree House books to CPS 2nd graders at the February 10 performance. This brings the total gift to 90,000 books, one of Ms. Osborne’s largest gifts, and helps to establish the project as ECT’s largest outreach initiative to date.

Ms. Osborne spoke about the importance of pairing literacy and the arts. “I think a big piece of using theater as a partner with reading is both require the imagination to take the young person further than just what they’re seeing – just the words, or just the action on stage. They have to fill it out. And that way they’re partnering with us to complete the picture of what is going on.” She had a message to deliver to CPS students, as well: “Read! Just read! Go to your library, get a library card…It will change your life!”

This is the second time that Ms. Osborne and ECT have partnered, along with KPMG’s Family for Literacy, to serve CPS students. A previous live stream event took place on March 18, 2016, and showcased Magic Tree House: A Night in New Orleans, a musical based on Magic Tree House #42: A Good Night for Ghosts. That partnership also included a gift of 30,000 books to all CPS 2nd graders.

“I want to thank the Emerald City Theatre for producing this exciting performance and author Mary Pope Osborne, who has donated books from her captivating series to every 2nd and 3rd grade student in our schools,” said CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade. “Your continued generosity is helping our students build literacy skills, but just as important, it’s instilling in them a love of reading.”

ECT Executive Director Karen Cardarelli said, “We are beyond thrilled to partner with Mary Pope Osborne and Will Osborne again. Their generosity and vision have helped us to deliver our largest outreach initiative to date!” Ms. Osborne was also pleased to renew the partnership. She said, “We find Emerald City the most exciting theater adventure for young people that we’ve ever been involved with.”

Magic Tree House: Showtime with Shakespeare is playing at the Apollo Theater through February 25, 2018. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit

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