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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.
Cirque Mechanics' Pedal Punk and its bevy of bicycles have rolled onto our stage! We checked in with Creative Director Chris Lashua to find out a little bit about how the show was developed. If you haven't seen Pedal Punk yet, take a look at this sneak peak of all the spinning things you'll see onstage, including the enormous Gantry—a 20-foot-high pedal-driven apparatus that frames the show's spectacular performances:
 

Like so many great ideas, every Cirque Mechanics production begins on the back of a napkin. Lashua starts by sketching an elaborate machine—a boiler-trolley, a trampoline-cart, a pedal-driven gantry—and a new show is born.

What exactly do you draw on the backs of napkins?

Yes, this really does happen, although we also draw on backs of receipts and business cards, too! Since inspiration can strike at any time, it really is important to capture ideas and concepts right away. I actually have several Southwest Airlines napkins with marker sketches of the first Gantry and our Trike Rover!

What was the inspiration for Pedal Punk?

We built the Gantry for an outdoor festival and knew right away we wanted to base our new show around it. We have always focused on showing off the relationships between our mechanical devices and the acrobats, and this device is our most ambitious apparatus so far.

What's your favorite part of developing a new show?

Oh, that's a tough one! Creation is the best. Sharing those napkin drawings with my design partner, Sean Riley, and brainstorming which elements to build is great. I also enjoy the fabrication. Prepping the materials at the fabrication shop, cutting and painting; and then introducing a new machine to an artist and watching them discover it and use it—that's fantastic.

The Cirque Mechanics ensemble strikes a pose with the Trike Rover. Chris Lashua just left of center, inbetween the spokes! Photo: Alban Rombaux


What makes the Cirque Mechanics ensemble special?

Our creative team is what makes it all work. This is our fourth production together and we have a range of opinions and approaches. My job is to distill the sometimes opposing views and find the right balance of ideas for the show. Having people on the team who approach the process differently is very important. We get much better results by having a team of individuals that are talented and who respect the other contributors' opinions.

What are your favorite things about performing at The New Victory?

Wow! We love coming here. It really is like coming home, from the moment our truck arrives and our team greets the New Victory crew in the loading dock. We first met many of those crew members when we came here with Birdhouse Factory in 2008. And, of course, being a block from Times Square is about as good as it gets.

All of that is great, but when the house lights dim and the show starts—that is when we really “experience” The New Victory. It's the amazing mix of giggles from young audience members with appreciative nods and cheers from adults, the standing ovations from audiences of children and their grandparents, the seasoned theatergoers alongside families who might be experiencing theater for the first time—all those things are what really make The New Victory our favorite place to perform.

What about Pedal Punk are you most proud of?

I started doing tricks on a BMX bicycle when I was twelve years old, and I haven’t stopped. Bicycles have always been a huge part of my life, so to combine that love with my passion for circus and machines is extremely rewarding.

Why should I see Pedal Punk?

If you love circus or like watching amazing feats of daring; if you are a builder, a maker, a gadget guru; or if you just like to laugh, we think this Pedal Punk is for you! We are having a blast and hope to meet you after the show!
 
Pedal Punk Icon    Cirque Mechanics' Pedal Punk is at The New Victory through January 3. Wacky circus contraptions, acrobats, dance, comedy—it's unlike anything you've ever seen. Be sure to come early to practice your plate-balancing tricks and take some steampunky photos for sharing, #PedalPunk.
Posted by Zack Ramadan

As we celebrate The New Victory's twentieth birthday this season, we're highlighting some of the families who have been a part of our greater New Vic family for many years. For these parents and kids, seeing theatrical performances at the New Vic has become a tradition, and over the years they've shared their love of theater with their extended family and friends.

This week, we turn the spotlight on the Sacco family. Dennis and Mayra Sacco, along with their kids, Michael Sacco and DeAnna Adonnino, have seen close to 60 shows here since 1996. Mayra attended the New Vic first with DeAnna during our second season, and she still counts that show among her most memorable theatergoing experiences. "It was the first show that I exposed my daughter to—she was about two and a half at the time," Mayra recalls. "I remember her jumping up and down on the seat, and you couldn't hold her back. She was just so enthralled by the experience." 

The Sacco Family, photographed in 2000. From left to right, Michael, DeAnna, Mayra and Dennis.
The Sacco Family, photographed in 2000. From left to right:
Michael, DeAnna, Mayra and Dennis.

 
"We have very special, fond memories of this place, there's no doubt about it," adds Dennis, who appreciates the impact the New Vic has had on their family. "I think it's so important that the kids came to the theater at a young age. Sometimes you don't know the impact that something will have until later on." Even though Michael and DeAnna are grown, their love of theater is as strong as ever, and they haven't left The New Victory behind. "They've come back individually. They've attended with their spouses, with their friends. Michael is in Florida now," explains Dennis, "and every weekend he goes to a live show of some sort."

"Our kids love to go to the theater, period," agrees Mayra. "And I think it's a result of having had the experience of seeing theater here at a young age." She's speaking from experience; Mayra traces her own love of theater back to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which she saw with childhood friends when she was just eight years old. "None of us had gone to the theater before—it was the first time for all of us. I just remember being mesmerized by it. I think my mouth was probably open the whole time."
 
Dennis's favorite comedian, Avner the Eccentric, as he appeared in our 1996-97 season brochure.
The comedic star of Dennis's favorite show, Avner the Eccentric, as he appeared in our 1996-97 season brochure.

 
Soledad Barrio of Noche Flamenca, who has performed at the New Vic in 2002, 2009 and during Victory Dance in 2014.
Mayra recalls her aunts' enthusiasm for the dancers of Noche Flamenca, who performed at the New Vic in 2002, 2009 and during Victory Dance in 2014.

Dennis had a very different experience growing up. "My mother and father enjoyed going to the theater, but never took the four kids!" As a result, his love of theater started a bit later, in his early twenties with the first of many Broadway shows. "There's nothing like a live show, and there's something very special about seeing it in New York." His first show at the New Vic, in 1997, was Avner the Eccentric, a show he still recalls with fondness. "Anytime we see a clown or magic show, we're reminded of Avner from twenty years ago!" This is a theme with the Saccos—live theater fostering stronger, more lasting memories. Of New Victory performances in particular, Dennis explains that the family "would talk about them six months later, one year later, twenty years later in a positive light."

"Going to theater as a family, there's nothing better than seeing a particular show and then being able to talk about it," adds Mayra. Even without their kids, she and Dennis still look forward to the New Victory season brochure arriving in the mail, and to the theatrical variety that they've come to expect. "There aren't many theaters where you can go and see a circus act, a drama, a musical." Over other forms of entertainment, Mayra likens live theater to an immersive, mind-body experience. "If it's a circus act, I'm at the edge of my seat. If it's drama, it's like reading a book. If it's music, I'm feeling the music." And this love of live performance runs in her family.

Mayra's parents and aunts are Cuban immigrants, and they've accompanied Mayra and Dennis to many shows over the years. "The arts were very important to them growing up. I think they lost that, unfortunately, when they came to this country," explains Mayra, "but The New Victory put it back within their reach."

"Any show that I ever attended with your parents that was of a musical variety, their feet or their hands were going," Dennis says to her, tapping a rhythm on his lap. And the Saccos look forward to continuing their theatergoing tradition. "It's gone from Mayra's parents coming along with us, to her aunts, to my daughter in-law, expanding, expanding, expanding beyond just the four of us, to the ten of us, to the twelve of us. I'm guessing that if we're blessed with grandchildren, they'll carry on that tradition." With big smiles at the thought, they agree: "We can't wait!"

For the Saccos, sharing their love of theater doesn't end with family and friends. Every year, Mayra and Dennis make a point of donating a set of New Victory tickets to charity during the holidays. They see the sharing of theatrical experiences as an extension of the New Vic's mission. "I think a lot of people view the theater as being out of reach when it may not necessarily be," says Dennis. "I think that's what the New Vic does. It makes it really within reach."

Where did your #LoveOfTheater start? Let us know on Twitter @newvictory, or snap a selfie for Instagram and tag us @newvictorytheater the next time you're here!
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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