A Kid Review of The Pushcart Players’ “A Season of Miracles”
by Waverly W., 8 years old, and Ellyana M., 8 years old, Manhattan
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Waverly here!  Do you believe in miracles?  Well, we here at Kidsnewsnyc.com sure do!  So we went to check out a show called, “A Season of Miracles,” by The Pushcart Players at the beautiful Tribeca Performing Arts Center downtown.  When I got there, I saw in the lobby that they had a Christmas tree, a Menorah and some Kwanzaa decorations and I thought it would be like Social Studies class, teaching us about how Chanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa started.  Did you know that I celebrate Christmas and Chanukah because my parents are divorced and my Stepmom is Jewish? Well, I already know a little bit about that holiday and we learned about Kwanzaa too.  Luckily, this play was not like school at all!  (We did learn something though…I’ll get to that later).

This was a play with lots of plays in it and not one long play with one long story.  It was three short ones plus a Nutcracker ending with fancy costumes and dancing and singing!  They were called, “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Kwanzaa Kite” and “The Chanukah Miracle.”  There were four actors doing the whole thing and playing all the different characters.  Their names are Oscar Castillo, Stacie Gogo, Lou Steele, and Gia Ware.   They all are really fabulous actors, singers and dancers.  I don’t know how they changed and became totally different people so quickly and honestly I didn’t even know there were only four of them until we met them later on! I guess that’s acting for you!  Stacie said she loved becoming different characters in such a fast time and that it was really interesting to work like this!  It must be really fun to be so many different characters in just one hour!

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Onstage with The Pushcart Players, plus the Kwanzaa Kite!

I don’t want  to give away all the stories and what they’re about but they all made us think about how presents are not the most important part of Christmas.  (Note to Mom:  I still want lots of presents!!)  The Gift of the Magi had a surprise twist ending.  The Kwanzaa Kite had nice music and colors and showed us that you can do something big while being little (just like Kidsnewsnyc.com!) and also taught us about the 7 principles of Kwanzaa. like Unity, Self-Determination, and especially Creativity.  I even got to hold the Kwanzaa Kite when we went onstage to meet the cast! The Chanukah Miracle showed how different people see different things.  I loved the music and dancing – it reminded me of when I saw The Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway!  It was funny to see all the people fighting about the old hayfork….or was it a Menorah?  It depends on who is seeing it!  Also we learned that you can’t judge anything or anyone just by how they look.  

After the show we got to go on the stage and look around at the scenery and costumes, and even hang out with the actors! They were really nice and funny and we took a selfie with them and had a lot of fun.

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“CHEESE!”

Ellyana here! I liked all the little plays and laughed a lot, especially when the girl kept crying really loud because she didn’t have a present for her husband.  I loved the end when they did The Nutcracker and did lots of funny dances and a beautiful one by the Sugar Plum Fairy.  I learned about all the different holidays.  I also learned that we should think about others at Christmas time!  Thank you, Pushcart Players, for reminding me of that!foto_no_exif-69

Back to Waverly!  I am an actress, too, so I wanted to interview one of The Pushcart Players.  I sent my questions to Lou Steele, and here are his answers! Thanks, Lou! Maybe I’ll play your daughter someday, you never know!! 🙂

How long have you been an actor?

Many years. Double digits. After a brief introduction to the theatre world while in middle school, I found myself immersed in it by the spring of my freshman year in high school. From there I went to Montclair State University in NJ, where I received a BFA in Theatre with a concentration in Acting. I’ve been working ever since.

What were some of your favorite roles to play?

Some of my favorite roles have been in well known musicals. From Tony in West Side Story, to Radames in Aida, and Chris in Miss Saigon. I have had the joy of doing some British farces as well as classic pieces. In Season of Miracles I play many different characters, which I always find challenging yet rewarding.

What was the most fun part of being in “A Season of Miracles?”

The most fun was working with the other 3 actors. You never know what the person across from you is going to bring to the table. I love discovering how we work together in bringing to life these holiday tales. Every performance brings a new discovery.

Do you have any advice for kids who want to grow up to be actors or actresses?

It’s a tough industry, but I say follow your passion. Take every opportunity. You never know who you’ll meet and what it could lead to. Paul Whelihan, Pushcart’s Artistic Director, and I worked together about 15 years ago. And here we are, coming full circle.

Oh yeah….and remember to have FUN!! (OK, I will!)

For more info on Lou, visit www.lousteele.net

The Mom here!  After reading about The Pushcart Players, I wanted to find out more about them because I am also very interested in promoting literacy and Arts Education for children (if I weren’t, I wouldn’t be typing this at 5:00 a.m.!)  So I thought I’d ask their organization a few questions so parents/schools can learn more about them also.  All their info is below.   Thanks Samantha!!

*While I’m at it, I’d also like to thank Allyson Morgan from the Tribeca Performing Arts Center for helping me coordinate all of this.  I had never been to that theater before and was really amazed at how beautiful and large it is! We will be back for sure.  Check it out at www.tribecapac.org   [email protected]  

Who are the “Pushcart Players?” 

Pushcart Players is a touring theater company specializing in Arts Education for children. A social profit organization founded in 1974, Pushcart brings substantive musical theater, workshops and residencies to young people and their families in schools and families nationwide. The company has traveled more than 2 million miles nationally and abroad, from the White House to the little red schoolhouse.

What makes you guys unique?

Pushcart Players’ production are all curriculum tied, addressing social studies, literature, history, the Autism spectrum, special educational needs and values clarification. All performances are by professional artists (Actors’ Equity Association) and are supported by study guides, post-performance assessments and other supplemental materials. Performances are able to easily adapt to any location with innovative scenery, lighting and sound systems, making it possible for Pushcart to bring live theater programming directly to a school’s gymnasium or auditorium. Pushcart Players is one of the few remaining touring theater companies for young audiences in the country.

What types of shows do you put on?  Are they always original shows or do you sometimes do well-known shows?

Pushcart Players’ productions are fully mounted musicals, usually consisting of four performers. The company’s main focus is on original material but, also includes unique adaptations of classic tales such as “Alice in Wondlerland,” “Peter and the Wolf,” and soon “The Velveteen Rabbit Reborn.”

In addition, Pushcart offers story-telling programming and substantive theater education programming, providing in-school workshops, direction of student productions and curriculum development for elementary and middle schools. Pushcart cast members are experienced teaching artists, and provide workshops, acting classes and residency programs to schools, community centers and summer session programs.

Do you write the shows as well as produce them?

Yes, all Pushcart production are written and produced in house.

How do you choose your actors?

Our actors are all professional artists and members of Actors’ Equity Association. Pushcart conducts several audition sessions throughout the year to find new talent. Pushcart performers not only need to be talented singers and actors but, individuals who are animated and engaging teaching artists capable of entertaining and educating young audience members. Being a Pushcart Players is a very unique and special opportunity for a performer. In many cases, our performers are introducing students to live theater and offering an alternate pathway to learning.

Besides “A Season of Miracles,” what other shows do you have going on right now?

We are currently offering “Ellis Island: Gateway To America,” “Peter and the Wolf,” Stone Soup and Other Stories,” and “The Last Butterfly.” Coming soon – “A Cinderella Tale…happily ever after,” and “The Velveteen Rabbit Reborn.” For descriptions on each show please visit our website at www.pushcartplayers.org.

How can people learn more about you?

People can visit our website and/or follow us on social media.

www.pushcartplayers.org

https://www.facebook.com/pushcartplayers/ 

 https://twitter.com/PushcartPlayers

https://www.instagram.com/pushcartplayers74/

People can also join our mailing list by texting PUSHCART to 22828