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  • Info
  • Calendar
  • Performance Description
  • Plot Synopsis
  • Content Advisories

Based on the Newbery Award-winning book
Written by Matt de la Peña, Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Adapted for the stage by Cheryl L. West
Music and lyrics by Lamont Dozier and Paris Ray Dozier
Directed by Henry Godinez
Co-commissioned with the Chicago Children’s Theatre
For curious 5-year-olds and up

A Children’s Theatre Company Commissioned Premiere Production


Six-year-old CJ is (reluctantly) staying with his (extremely over-the-top) Nana, in a world considerably different from the one he’s used to (his phone and tablet). The disagreeable (and let’s just admit it, whiny) child is dragged on a bus ride that’s loud and gritty and weird. Guided by his veritable force-of-nature Nana, CJ travels a little closer to his roots and sees that things are not always what they seem. This is one hip-hop, eclectic, heart-thumpin’, toe-tappin’ joy ride.

Last Stop on Market Street Calendar

Performance Description

CTC’s Last Stop on Market Street is a musical performed by a small group of adult and student actors. This show was co-commissioned with Chicago Children’s Theatre and produced through our new play development lab here at Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN. It is based on the Newbery Medal, Caldecott Honor and New York Times best-selling book by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson.

This production takes place on our United Health Group stage and seats up to 745 people per performance.

Approximate run time: 1 hour without an intermission

Run time and other details are subject to change during rehearsal process.

Plot Synopsis
Caution: This is a complete synopsis of the play, so it is full of spoilers. This script is still in development. Content is subject to change until script is solidified.


Seven-year-old CJ is feeling sad because Mom and Dad are away for the weekend and he has to stay with Nana in Chicago. The entire neighborhood comes out to welcome him but he is busy counting down the hours until his parents return. Everything about being at Nana’s house is miserable. The food is different, there  is a scary bear rug on the floor and worst of all, Nana takes away all of his electronics. CJ begs for his stuff back but Nana firmly says no. When CJ asks the reason he can't have his tablet, Nana explains that it is because she said so. During nighttime prayers, CJ expresses his concern about Nana and sings himself a lullabye. 

The next morning, CJ and Nana go to church but CJ is still in a bad mood. As they make their way back to Nana's house, CJ refuses to respond when Nana is talking to him. He begs to go back home and reveals that he has a Ziploc bag full of money hidden in his stuffed animal. Nana explains that they are not going home but are going out on a surprise adventure. She packs some snacks for the trip while CJ whines some more. When Nana turns her back, CJ looks for his electronics. He finds his stuff and hides them in his backpack before he is discovered. Nana encourages him to bring his stuffed animal on the trip and grabs his backpack to try to fit it inside. Before she is able to unzip the backpack and see the electronics, CJ stuffs the stuffed animal inside, the backpack now straining at the seams.

They head out to the bus stop and it is raining. CJ doesn’t understand why Nana doesn’t have a car. The bus arrives and CJ is scared. Mr. Dennis, the bus driver, welcomes them both onto the bus and shows CJ how to pay for the fare. There are lots of interesting people on the bus, including a tattooed man and a woman dressed as a butterfly. Nana encourages CJ to say hello to everyone but CJ protests saying that he is not supposed to talk to strangers. Nana tells CJ not to put his backpack on the floor. The tattooed man sings a song about how his body is a walking masterpiece and encourages CJ to not judge a book by the cover. CJ meets Madam Butterfly. She gives him a jar of butterflies and asks him to release them when he gets where he’s going. A blind man steps onto the bus carrying a guitar. He introduces himself to CJ as Mr. Vernon and explains that he see life through his ears. Two teenage girls get on the bus listening to music. CJ wishes once again that he had his electronics. Mr. Vernon encourages CJ to close his eyes and listen to the beat of life. The teenage girls begin to dance to the music. CJ is tentative about joining the dance but is encouraged by the teens.

Finally, they arrive at the last stop on Market Street and they all get off the bus. CJ admits that he had a good time on the bus and is excited about the surprise; however, he becomes intimidated when he realizes he is surrounded by graffiti, broken glass, and windows with bars. CJ expresses that he thinks this is a “bad neighborhood.” Nana explains that it is not bad, just different, and encourages him to look for the beauty. They meet, Mr. Chow and CJ learns to say "good morning" in chinese. 

Just then, CJ realizes that he left his backpack on the bus and becomes angry. He yells about how he hates this place and all the stinky people. Nana’s friend, Posey, and her grandson, Jojo, hear what CJ said. It is clear Posey & Jojo are homeless. Nana apologizes for her grandson’s rudeness and we learn that Jojo loves math. Posey & Nana head into the building while CJ and Jojo stay outside. Jojo asks if CJ wants to ride in his shopping cart. CJ is nervous but agrees; however, Jojo flips CJ into a trash can as revenge for calling him stinky. They begin to tussle when Mr. Dennis, the bus driver, returns with CJ’s backpack. CJ apologizes to Jojo for saying mean things and offers to show him his electronics. While CJ is getting everything out of his backpack, Jojo explains that he used to have a stuffed animal just like CJ’s. Nana comes out and catches CJ with his electronics and she expresses her disappointment in him for sneaking them along on the trip without her permission. CJ worries that Nana will stop talking to him. They all get on their aprons, hair nets and gloves to serve dinner at the soup kitchen. CJ has fun entertaining the guests while serving them. After dinner is served, CJ asks why no one is heading home. Nana explains that many of these people do not have homes to go to. Many of them sleep in a park or homeless shelter. Everything Jojo & Posey own is in their grocery cart. Nana explains that she is proud of CJ for serving everyone and making them smile. As they go to leave, CJ gives Jojo his stuffed animal and they release the butterflies together. Because of his kindness, Nana offers to give him back his electronics but CJ tells her he doesn't need those things to be happy. They head the bus back to Nana's house.  

Content Advisories (subject to change as the production goes into rehearsal):

Language: 1 out of 5 stars
Nana calls CJ a "brat." The tatooed man sings about how "you assume that I'm a thug" when encouraging CJ to not judge a book by it's cover. 

Themes and Situations: 2 out of 5 stars
CJ is grumpy. Nana becomes angry with CJ. 

Violence & Scariness: 1 out of 5 stars
CJ & Jojo tussle and fight.

Sensory Advisories: 1 out of 5 stars
Musical numbers can be loud.

Potentially Anxious Moments: 1 out of 5 stars
CJ meets people who are homeless and people who are different than he is and has an initially negative reaction by calling the neighborhood “bad” and the people “stinky.” Nana becomes angry at CJ. 

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