New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.
March 1, 2018

Family Activity: Black Beauty

Horse around, find out more about your family and recreate a favorite story in this Family Activity for Black Beauty! For each show in the season, we post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past posts here on our blog and at

Family Ties

Brothers Andy and Andy McCuddy have a lot in common—they even share a first name! In this activity, find out what similarities you and your family have. 

Use this list to share all of your favorite things and figure what you and your family members have in common.
  • Color
  • Food
  • Book
  • Places you would like to travel to
  • Day of the week
  • Season
  • TV show
A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course

Andy and Andy McCuddy are performers who act in a type of show called pantomime, or panto. In this activity, learn a little bit more about panto and then try out what the McCuddy brothers do for a living. 

Materials: A blanket and an object you can find in your home that represents a horse tail (like a mophead or scarf)

Step One: Have you ever heard of panto? In the U.K., panto is a form of interactive theater, performed during the Christmas season to entertain millions of families. A panto is a traditional fairy tale complete with songs, dances, jokes, exaggerated characters and LOTS of audience participation. It's a wonderful way to entertain kids, involve them with the characters on stage and encourage them to cheer. Because panto works on two levels, there's plenty for the adults to enjoy as well.

Watch some panto! When you watch, look out for how the audience watches and interacts with the performers. 

Step Two: The McCuddy brothers are the front and back of a panto horse. A horse is common character in a panto show. A panto horse (there are also panto cows and other animals) is a horse made by two actors in a single costume. One actor plays the front end, including the horse's head and its front legs. The other actor, playing the rear end of the animal, must bend at the waist so that his torso is horizontal like that of a horse and put his arms around the waist of the first actor. 

Watch a panto horse prancing around in the U.K. for inspiration! 

Now it's your turn to become a panto horse! Using a safety pin attach a "tail" to one end of the blanket. Find a partner and put a blanket on top of you. 

Step Three: Have fun horsing around! Practice walking together and try the following:
  • Can you neigh?
  • Can you eat hay from the ground?
  • Can you trot?
Holy Foley

In the show, the Andys find their mom's favorite book, Black Beauty, and decide to act it out. In this activity, read and make the sound effects for your family's favorite story! 

Materials: Favorite books, items you can find in your home that make noise

Step One: Talk about your favorite family stories. Is there a story that you and your family love to read together? Is there a book that you always want to hear at bedtime? What are your adults' favorite stories?

Here are some of our favorite stories for inspiration!

Little Red Riding Hood
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Gruffalo
Goodnight Moon
Where the Wild Things Are

Step Two: Choose a story you would like to play with and decide who will be the reader. Everyone else will listen and make sound effects.

Step Three: Go around your house and collect things that make noise, like forks, bottles or a boot. 

Step Four: Read the story and add in sound effects at appropriate moments. Think of where the story is taking place and the actions that are happening on each page. If someone is walking, how can you make that sound? If it's raining, how can you make that sound? 

Step Five: How does adding sound effects change the story?
Long Lost First Play Thumb Saddle up and jump headlong into a tale where loneliness gives way to hope, friends become heroes and courage saves the day! Get your tickets today!

Posted by Beth Henderson
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