Children’s theater company to occupy Noyes Street Theatre this spring

Tori Latham, Assistant City Editor

A local children’s theater company will move into the Noyes Street Theatre this spring, allowing the company to bring its productions to a larger space in the city.

Mudlark Theater Company will move into the theater, located at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St., in time to perform two shows this spring, said Christina Ferraro, assistant director of community services for the city. The space was previously occupied by Next Theatre Company, which closed in November after years of financial trouble. The theater will be available to Mudlark from February to the end of May.

Evanston’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services department began looking for new occupants in December and notified Mudlark of its selection as the new tenant last week, Ferraro said.

“They were our only applicant for the space,” she said. “I expected that to happen because most companies already have a schedule intact at a specific location, but we are looking forward to them taking over the space.”

Michael Miro, Mudlark’s executive director, said the company has performed two shows in the space before — a production of “Antigone” in spring 2012 and a showing of “A Christmas Carol” in December — which is how they first learned about the theater.  

“We were in talks to rent the space from Next, and luckily the city honored that agreement once they went out of business,” he said.

Miro said he is excited to begin working in the theater, which offers more space than the company usually has when it puts on performances.

“We typically perform at smaller venues, which is nice for some shows, but for some it’s nice to seat 50 plus people,” he said. “Our shows at 70- to 85-seat venues sell out quickly, so it’s a relief to have a 150-seat house.”

For its upcoming season, Miro said Mudlark has two shows planned. “Mudpie” will be performed in March and incorporates writing from local children.

“This will be our fourth year doing ‘Mudpie,’” Miro said. “We take writing from the kids at the theater, their stories, poems, reflections, but we also incorporate writing from the kids we teach writing workshops to in local District 65 schools.”

In May, Mudlark will put on a production of “Pride and Prejudice,” a first for the company. However, Miro does not know what will happen once Mudlark’s residency at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center is completed.

“I know they want someone to take on a long-term lease,” said Tim Rhoze, artistic director at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre, which is also housed at the arts center. “We hope that someone will be able to make it their home in the future.”

Miro said he is not sure that Mudlark could put up a competitive offer for a long-term lease, although he appreciates the city’s help in securing the theater for the company.

“I’m not sure about a permanent space,” he said. “That’s a big step for any organization. If they keep it flexible, I would definitely consider making another bid in the fall.”

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