Children's Theatre Company

The Children's Theatre Company (formerly known as The Moppet Players from 1961[1] to 1965) is a regional theatre established in 1965 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, specializing in plays for families, young audiences and the very young. The theatre is the largest theatre for multigenerational audiences in the United States and is the recipient of 2003 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. The founding is credited to John Clark Donahue [2] and Beth Linnerson.[1] Many productions are adaptations from children's literature[2] including Pippi Longstocking, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, Cinderella, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, A Year with Frog and Toad and Alice in Wonderland that have been in the company's repertoire for many seasons. Among their early premiere productions was Richard Dworsky's musical version of The Marvelous Land of Oz, which was one of several productions to be issued on video in the early 1980s. The casts themselves are a mix of adult and young adult performers.[2]

The programs began operating from space donated in a restaurant before moving to an abandoned fire station donated when the troupe affiliated itself with the social service agency Pillsbury-Waite Settlement House.[1]

It previously[when?] operated as an accredited school,[2] The Children's Theatre Company and School, first as an "after school" component of the Twin Cities' Urban Arts program and, by the early 1980s, as its own accredited grade school and high school. Students were taught regular academic curricula for the first half of the day and then studied performance arts for the second half.

The theater was founded by John Clark Donahue along with John Burton Davidson, Shirley Diercks, Martha Pierce Boesing and Beth Leinerson. Jon Cranny served as the theater's second artistic director from 1984[2] until 1997, when Peter C. Brosius became the theater's third artistic director alongside the theatre's managing directors: Theresa Eyring (1999–2007), Gabriella Callichio (2007–11), Tim Jennings (2011–15) and Kimberly Motes (16-present). The theater's production of A Year with Frog and Toad, which completed a run at the Cort Theatre on Broadway in June 2003. In 1998, under Brosius' leadership, the theater established THRESHOLD, a new play laboratory which has created world premiere productions by Nilo Cruz, Jeffrey Hatcher, Kia Corthrun, and Naomi Iizuka. Along with new play development, Brosius has helped launch new education programs, including the internationally renowned[citation needed] Neighborhood Bridges program.

Architect Michael Graves designed the expansion for the theater in 2001. In 2003, the theater received the Tony Award for excellence in regional theater. The November 2, 2004 edition of Time Magazine named the company as the top theater for children in the U.S..[3]

Sex abuse historyEdit

John Clark Donahue left the theater in 1984 after pleading guilty to having sexual relations with three male minor students. Donahue was sentenced to a year in prison and 15 years' probation during which time he was to completely disengage himself from the Children's Theatre Company.[4]

On December 1, 2015, two students who had been sexually abused by Donahue in 1977 and 1983 filed suit against the theater and Donahue and an unnamed ex-employee. The suit is brought under the Minnesota Child Victims Act.[5] Donahue died of cancer in March 2019.[6]

On November 1, 2019, Children’s Theatre Company announced the settlement of all 16 lawsuits brought against Children’s Theatre Company by individuals who were sexually abused by former employees in the 1970s and 1980s. Children’s Theatre Company’s Board of Directors also approved a contribution to a newly created Survivors Fund in the amount of $500,000 USD requested by the survivors. This fund is designed and led by the survivors, and administered by a third-party administrator. [7]

In mid-November 2019, a $2.5 million USD default judgment was granted against Jason McLean, a former Children’s Theatre Company actor accused of sexually assaulting girls at the theater in the 1980s.[8] Five lawsuits have been filed against McLean, resulting in more than $8 million USD in judgments; he has not been criminally charged.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Bedard, Roger L.; Tolch, C. John (1989). Spotlight on the Child: Studies in the History of American Children's Theatre. ABC-CLIO. pp. 159–. ISBN 9780313257933. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e Wilmeth, Don B.; Miller, Tice L. (June 13, 1996). The Cambridge Guide to American Theatre. Cambridge University Press. pp. 96–. ISBN 9780521564441. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  3. ^ Zoglin, Richard (November 2, 2004). "Where Kids Get Treated Right". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  4. ^ New York Times, November 9, 1984
  5. ^ Preston, Rohan. "Children's Theatre Company, ex-official are targets of sex-abuse suit". Star Tribune.
  6. ^ "Bar Owner Implicated In Sex Abuse Scandal Plans To Reopen Bar". Bay City News. October 23, 2019. Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  7. ^ "Children's Theatre reaches settlements in remaining abuse cases". Star Tribune.
  8. ^ a b Smith, Kelly (November 13, 2019). "Judge grants $2.5 million judgment in case against Jason McLean, former Children's Theatre actor accused of sexual assault". Star Tribune. Retrieved December 28, 2019.


External linksEdit

Coordinates: 44°57′29.52″N 93°16′22.89″W / 44.9582000°N 93.2730250°W / 44.9582000; -93.2730250