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Wirtz Center will present SummerStage musical about Hans Christian Andersen

Production features never before heard songs by legendary Broadway composer Frank Loesser

Hans Christian Andersen cast members
The musical 'Hans Christian Andersen' runs July 13 to 28 at the Wirtz Center. Photo by Justin Barbin.

Northwestern University’s Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts announced today (April 2) that tickets are available online for a new musical based on the life and imagination of Hans Christian Andersen. The announcement comes on Andersen’s birthday celebrated worldwide as International Children’s Book Day.

The Wirtz Center’s 2019 SummerStage production “Hans Christian Andersen” will run July 13 to 28 in the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive on the Evanston campus.

The production will feature previously unheard “trunk songs” by award-winning Broadway composer Frank Loesser (“Guys and Dolls” and “How to Succeed in Business”) with additional lyrics and book by award-winning playwright Timothy Allen McDonald (Roald Dahl’s “Willy Wonka,” and “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley”).

Directed by Northwestern School of Communication theater professor Rives Collins, “Hans Christian Andersen” follows the inspiring coming of age journey of a young penniless storyteller who would ultimately become one of the most celebrated writers of all time. 

At the age of 13, young Hans Christian Andersen is the first commoner ever chosen by the King of Denmark to study at the Royal Academy. But faced with the task of leaving his provincial family behind, he is dreading the experience. Once he arrives in Copenhagen, he is swept into a dazzling world of new characters, challenges and friends that ignite his imagination and inspire some of the most famous stories the world has ever known such as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”  

Just as his stories have inspired countless generations, young and old alike, this enchanting summer production is recommended for all ages. The new musical features beloved Frank Loesser songs such as “Wonderful Copenhagen,” “Inch Worm,” “Anywhere You Wander” and “Thumbelina.” New songs include “Rumble, Rumble, Rumble,” “Hamlet,” “What is Life?” and “Everybody Sings.”

The Wirtz Center will offer a relaxed performance of “Hans Christian Andersen” on July 21 at 2 p.m. This performance will be adapted to provide a comfortable and safe environment for students with autism, learning differences or other sensory needs, allowing every audience member to engage with the show in a way that works for them.

Performance modifications include: 

  • Changes to light and sound cues to eliminate sudden changes and high-volume effects
  • A separate sensory room if students need a break from the performance
  • Trained teaching artists with a background in sensory-friendly work will be on site
  • Fidget toys and communication devices are welcome in the theatre

Related Events

The Wirtz Center celebrates the opening of “Hans Christian Andersen” with $12 “Be a Kid for a Day” tickets at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on July 13. Performances continue through July 28. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. on Fridays, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for seniors (62+), area educators and NU faculty and staff and $12 for full-time students and children 18 years and under. 

timothy allen mcdonald bioPlaywright Timothy Allen McDonald joins the director and cast for a post-show discussion with the audience July 13 after the 2 p.m. performance.

Tickets and more information are available on the Wirtz Center website. Beginning May 16, tickets can be purchased by phone at 847-491-7282 or in-person at the Wirtz Center box office, located in the lobby of the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive. 

Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The box office is closed on Sundays and Mondays. 

The Wirtz Center is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theater, dance and visual arts. 


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