Featured Line-up for the 37th Annual EQT Children’s Theater Festival!

Tickets on sale tomorrow with Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for eight incredible family shows

February 16, 2023

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Announces
Featured Line-up for the 37th Annual EQT Children’s Theater Festival
Tickets on sale tomorrow for eight incredible family shows
May 19 - 21, 2023 | Pittsburgh’s Cultural District |

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is excited to announce the featured line-up for the 2023 EQT Children’s Theater Festival taking place in the Cultural District May 19 - 21. Now in its 37th year, the EQT Children’s Theater Festival, a production of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, continues to foster imagination through high-quality professional theater performances from around the world. This year’s featured arts groups and performers hail from Australia, Canada, France, Madagascar, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States.

The featured theater performances at this year’s Festival include The Gruffalo, a much-loved musical adaptation of the classic picture book of the same name; It’s Okay to Be Different, based on the classic stories of bestselling author Todd Parr; Buoyant SEA, an interactive experience featuring a large water table; Hiccup, a hilarious rocking musical extravaganza about working together and friendship; A Letter for Elena, a heartwarming show incorporating theater and dance; Sakasaka, a wordless physical comedy in which three clowns use movement to convey an entertaining story; Origami Tales, masterful storytelling using the medium of Origami; and the return of Mr. Messado’s School of Magic for the Young and Young at Heart, a special magical performance geared at teens. 

“We are so excited to have the EQT Children’s Theater Festival return with an added third day of programming after the condensed Festival we had last year,” shares Pamela Komar, Director of Theater, Music, and Youth Programming for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. “This allows school groups and families even more time to explore the Cultural District, our eight featured performances, and all of the free activities that we will announce at a later date in April.”

The EQT Foundation, which was established by EQT Corporation, the nation’s largest producer of natural gas, returns in 2023 as the Festival’s lead and title underwriter, connecting the Pittsburgh community to international arts, entertainment, and culture. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust thanks the EQT Foundation for its stalwart support of this Festival. Through focused giving, the EQT Foundation provides educational opportunities for all ages, values the development of livable communities, and is committed to the preservation of natural resources in our region.

“The EQT Foundation is honored to once again provide underwriting support for the EQT Children’s Theater Festival,” said Ellen Rossi, President, EQT Foundation. “We are proud to support this showcase of professional international theater for young people – one of only four international children’s theater festivals in the entire country – and all the free, inclusive activities that accompany the performances. This event brightens the Cultural District every spring with the eager faces of young theater lovers and their grown-ups, and we are so pleased to play a part!”

In addition to the EQT Foundation, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust thanks its sponsors, Giant Eagle, Inc., Highmark Wholecare, and PPG along with its community supporters the Maranne P. Welch Family Endowment, Allegheny Regional Asset District, The Fine Foundation, The Grable Foundation, PNC Grow Up Great, The Buhl Foundation, Pennsylvania Council On The Arts, and Remake Learning. Special thanks to collaborators Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, City of Pittsburgh, Citiparks, Point Park University Pittsburgh Playhouse, and Roving Art Cart.

Tickets for featured performances go on sale tomorrow and begin at $12 each. Patrons can unlock a special discount when purchasing tickets for multiple shows. Some performances will sell out in advance. To claim your seats now, plan ahead and visit, call 412-456-6666, or visit the Box Office at the Benedum Center to purchase. Orders for groups of 10+ tickets or more may be placed by calling 412-471-6930. 

Families and Pittsburgh Cultural Trust members help the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to present affordable, high-quality theater productions, and bring the best of international Children’s Theater to Pittsburgh. Giving at the $50 Partners membership level and above includes benefits to enhance your visit to the Cultural District for a full year! Special Festival benefits like reserved seating for performances, and more are included in a Sustaining Partner level membership. Visit or call 412-471-3518 for more details.

2023 Featured Events:

The Gruffalo | Byham Theater
Tall Stories | United Kingdom

Part of the 2023 Children’s Theater season

Join Mouse on a daring adventure through the deep, dark wood in Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the classic picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. While searching for hazelnuts, Mouse meets the cunning Fox, the eccentric old Owl and the high-spirited Snake. Will the story of the terrifying Gruffalo save Mouse from ending up as dinner for these hungry woodland creatures? After all, there’s no such thing as a Gruffalo – is there?

A much-loved show that’s toured Britain and the world, The Gruffalo now comes to the Byham Theater to bring songs, laughs and monstrous fun for children aged 3+ and their grown-ups!

Age Recommendations: Best ages 3 and up

It’s Okay to Be Different | Byham Theater
Mermaid Theater of Nova Scotia | Canada

It’s Okay to Be Different, based on the classic stories of bestselling author Todd Parr, explores important and timely subjects with his signature blend of playfulness and sensitivity. Join us for three stories full of color, wonder and fun as Mermaid Theater of Nova Scotia blends innovative puppetry techniques with playful original music to demonstrate how to be kind to others, the world around us, and ourselves!

Age Recommendations: Best for ages 3 to 7 years 

Buoyant SEA | Trust Arts Education Center, Peirce Studio
Hiawatha Project, presented in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust | USA

In “Buoyant  Sea” a new show from the acclaimed theater-making company, Hiawatha Project, young children sing and splash together along with their grown-ups in a “water-table-play” about the joy of togetherness.  Come along with the ever-exuberant character of MC, and the timid, yet wise character of CC, as they row together through misty rivers and explore the icy arctic with story, song, and participatory play.  Together this pair of best friends discover that when the world changes around us, like water, we can adapt, flow, and float up again.

*Buoyant SEA takes place in an unconventional setting featuring a large water table with smaller basins that can accommodate 20-25 young children. Audience members should dress comfortably, and prepare for lots of fun and some splashing. Grownups and other audience members are able to sit further back from the stage to observe or if they do not wish to participate in the water play.

Age Recommendations: Best for ages 18 months to 4 years with Caregiver 

Hiccup | PNC Theatre at Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse
Windmill Theatre Co | Australia

It’s a perfect, balmy night in the outback. A sleep-deprived camper, a cheeky quokka, and an emu with a penchant for creating wild inventions awake to discover that a koala has come down with a stubborn and ear-shatteringly loud case of the hiccups.

The three embark on an epic journey throughout the night that sees them frantically eat, sing and invent their way towards a cure before the sun comes up. 

Brought to the USA by Australia’s Windmill Theatre Co. and the designer of Bluey’s Big Play, Hiccup is a hilarious rocking musical extravaganza about working together, finding friendship, and how to – once and for all – stop the hiccups.

Age Recommendations: Best for ages 3 to 9 years

A Letter for Elena | Highmark Theatre at Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse
A coproduction of Le Petit Théâtre de Sherbrooke & La [parenthèse] / Christophe Garcia | Quebec & France

Part of the 2023 Bridge Theater Series season

On a summer morning in the countryside, Frank, Lucy, and Aïcha find a multitude of letters on the side of the road, left there just for them. There are messages from everyone, except Elena, their best friend and the fourth of the gang. She remained silent for a reason they could not explain themselves. There had to be a letter from her, and they needed to find it!

Throughout their research, Frank, Lucy, and Aïcha reveal to us, step by step, the words of a whole town saying goodbye: those of a little brother not yet born, with so many questions in his mind, those of a grandfather who’s already in heaven waiting for them, secret words, words that protest, neon words glowing with love… And slowly, they clear up some space.

At the crossroads of theater and dance, A Letter for Elena unfolds itself like a treasure hunt where the path of mourning is slowly drawn, and words take form to say goodbye.

*This show contains bright lights and moments of darkness. It includes themes of loss of a loved one and friendship. Due to the content of this show, tickets will not be sold for children under the age of 7.

Age Recommendations: Must be 7 years or older

Sakasaka | Outdoor Space at 7th Street & Penn Avenue
La Compagnie Zolobe | Madagascar

Sakasaka (meaning “thirsty” in Malagasy) centers on water as its main theme. In this wordless physical comedy, three clowns use the poetry of motion to convey an entertaining story of trying to drink a glass of water while teaching us the importance of water conservation and scarcity. Laugh out loud and learn important lessons as they take you through a journey of dance, music, splashes and joy!

Age Recommendations: Best for ages 3 and up 

Origami Tales | Outdoor Space at 7th Street & Penn Avenue
Kuniko Yamamoto | Japan 

Welcome to the infinite world of paper folding, Origami! Mythological character masks & puppets, amazing flowers and a six-foot-long dragon – all made from origami – set the stage while storyteller Kuniko shares heartfelt stories from ancient Japan. With origami, music and audience participation, you will explore into a magical entry of the East.

Age Recommendations: Best for ages 3 and up

Mr. Messado’s School of Magic for the Young and Young at Heart
Liberty Magic | USA

Forget everything you know about magicians pulling rabbits out of top hats. Mr. Messado brings a fresh new take on the age-old art of prestidigitation in Mr. Messado’s School of Magic for the Young and Young at Heart. Time-tested through thousands of performances around the world and full of stunning magic and clean comedy, this 60-minute spectacular will fill both teens and adults with wonder! Get to know the mister behind the magic and the rabble-rousing raconteur behind the cape as superstar Mr. Messado engages your family with magic words, interactive tricks, and heartfelt memories in this hilarious performance about a love for entertainment and storytelling.

Age Recommendations: Best for ages 8 and up 

Get more info