Notifications

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.


The winter comes to a close with a heartwarming, modern take on Anna Sewell's classic, Black Beauty, running from March 16–25 with an Autism-Friendly Performance on March 19. We sat down with co-creators and New Vic alums Shona Reppe and Andy Manley to talk about the joy of theater for young audiences, pantomime and equine freestyle. 


 

Andy Manley Andy Manley in Black Beauty Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic
1. How does it feel to be back at The New Victory? What are you most excited about this time around?
Andy Manley: It's always lovely coming back to the New Vic. I've been quite a few times now with various shows, and it's really lovely to see how the organization has changed and developed. 

I'm excited about seeing the reaction to the show and playing around in the main theater, which I haven't done since Martha in 2001. Usually I'm in the New 42nd Street Studios with shows for the very young! Also, it's really nice to meet New York audiences, some of which have been to see other shows of mine the New Vic has presented. Of course, I have some good friends who work at the organization, too, so it's a lovely extra to catch up with them.

Shona Reppe: I love the New Vic because it's always a joy to be there. I’m not performing this time—which is a bit strange for me—but I’m excited to see Black Beauty on the main stage and to catch up with the amazing staff at the New Vic! I love NYC. I’m so thrilled, can you tell?!

2. To you, why is theater for kids so very important at this moment in time?
AM: I think theater (and art generally) helps us better understand the world in which we live. It can be quite baffling (even as an adult), so anything that helps us make it a bit more understandable can only be a good thing. It's good to know you are not alone in the universe and that others feel a similar way. 
 

 

Shona Reppe Shona Reppe
SR: In theater, anything can happen right in front of your eyes. It’s not a screen, so it can't be paused or rewound. It's interactive on every level because the audience's presence is what makes the show work. Theater doesn’t spell everything out, so, when kids use their imaginations, that's when the magic happens. If they have their parents with them, that's even better—they share a great experience. 

3. Pantomime isn't as popular in United States as it is in the United Kingdom. Is there anything the audiences should know about panto before seeing Black Beauty?
AM: For our show, all you need to know about panto is that it happens once a year, around the Christmas holidays. Pantos are usually based on a fairy tale, so there are kings, queens, princesses and, of course, a wicked villain who tries to do something dastardly. In panto, good always conquers evil and love is usually in the air, too. 

The McCuddy brothers have an act where they perform as Hamish (think a horsey version of Big Bird). They travel around the country seeing if they can get an audition. Unfortunately, their act is seen as a bit old-fashioned now, so they're not getting as much work as they used to. Because they only work at panto time, they are very down on their luck.

SR: They need to know that when a character says, "Oh yes he is," the audience responds, "Oh no he isn't!" Also, if someone asks where someone is they say, "They're behind you!" Simple. The only other thing they would need to know is that a pantomime horse is a very old tradition and it's meant to be a bit ugly and sad looking (sorry Hamish!).


4. If the McCuddy brothers came to New York, where do you think they would stop first?
AM: Poughkeepsie—they travel very slowly. 

5. What first drew you to create and perform for young audiences?
AM: I really like making work and performing it for kids. They are very honest and don't feel the need to be polite if it doesn't interest them. That's refreshing. It keeps me on my toes. The last thing I want to do is turn them off theater!

SR: I perform for young audiences because they are BRILLIANT, honest, funny and they aren't at all uptight. They just want to enjoy themselves. So do I!

 

Andy and Hamish Andy Manley and Hamish in Black Beauty Photo: Mihaela Bodlovic
6. What's the most memorable audience reaction to Black Beauty you can remember?
AM: I think my mum's. I could hear her laughing all through the show. At the end she hugged me, told me how great the show was and accidentally spilled a glass of wine down my back. That's never happened with any other audience member.

SR: I remember watching someone I knew crying in the final scene. I thought, "YES! This means I've done my job!"

7. What's the trickiest part of wearing the horse suit?
AM: The trickiest part about it? My part! ...don't tell my co-star Andy Cannon though. He thinks being the head is hard but he's wrong. Being the behind is much harder. I can't see where I'm going, I have to have my head next to Andy's bottom and I have to follow Andy's footwork, which can be very...creative at times, even though we have rehearsed the moves. (He calls it equine freestyle and says he is letting out his inner pony...I think he just forgets the dance moves!)
 

 


 
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
January 17, 2018

The Music of Generation NYZ

 
The first thing you notice at Undesirable Elements: Generation NYZ is the playlist greeting you as you take your seat. From the beginning, you know that this will be an entirely unique experience. Although each of the seven members of the cast has lived through incredibly different circumstances, the one thread that binds them is their love of music. Four of the performers, Monica, Edwin, Syl and Mohammad share the songs that inspire them the most. 
 

Monica Victoria Tatacoya Castañeda

Monica"Sorry Not Sorry" by Demi Lovato makes me feel unapologetic about being me. In a world where you are shunned for not conforming to what society wants from you, it’s important to be confident in yourself.

"Secreto de Amor" by Joan Sebastian has been my favorite since I was a child. I don’t even remember how old I was when I first heard it. At first, I loved it because it just sounded so nice. Now, I'm drawn to it because it brings back memories of much simpler times. It calms me down. 

"Praying" by Kesha makes me feel hopeful. There are people who come into your life who try to destroy who you are. "Praying" gives me that sense of hope that comes when you see a new sunrise in the horizon, the hope that you will come out better because of what you went through. 

Music is very important to me. There are some things that words alone can’t express or offer. Music gives me those things I need. Simple words can’t offer comfort when I need it or always express how I'm feeling. Music is that one thing that touches everyone. It speaks to each person in a unique way. 

Edwin Aguila

Edwin"Text Me, Call Me (I'll Be There For You)" by Jabir Farooq. This is my own song! It means so much to me because it shows how much I've grown. When I started recording this in 2016, I became more willing to take risks and put myself out there.

"1-800-273-8255" by Logic. This song by Logic is one that means a lot to me since I’ve dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts. I wish I had this song while I was dealing with my personal demons. 

"NY State of Mind" by Nas depicts the reality of my New York and paints a vivid picture through the lyrics.

Music is very important to me. It saved my life! It allows me to find an outlet for my feelings. It also allows me to heal and escape reality for a bit.

Syl Egerton

Syl"Claire de Lune" by Claude Debussy is a piece of classical music. It's probably the most beautiful, bittersweet and heart-wrenching pieces I've ever heard. I feel like it encapsulates the slight sadness I can always feel at the bottom of my stomach. At the same time, it's so calming, it lets you work through that tinge of sadness at you own pace. I like setting it to loop, lying down and listening to it as long as I need.

"Intro: Never Mind" by BTS is a song I listen to when I need to get motivated. It has lyrics that just make me want to run faster, work harder and be stronger in general. I play it when I need to smash out a paper, and just generally when I'm feeling bogged down and sluggish and need a kick.

"I Will Be King" by the Hoosiers is a weird one. It's simultaneously celebratory and slightly creepy. I like those types of songs and relate to the lyrics of this particular one a lot. The Hoosiers tell a lot of stories with their music and I just love the way they sound. 

Music is unbelievably important to me, I never leave the house without my headphones, otherwise I lose my mind. I have a playlist for every mood so my taste is all over the place. I love things from heavy rock to classical music to rap. Music is just something that makes me feel really good and helps reassure me that things will be okay. I get easily overwhelmed by thoughts, sometimes random or bad, and music helps me tune them out so I can focus or reach a goal. It's thanks to music and singing that I've been able to build up my confidence and speak in public or in front of an audience. 

Mohammad Murtaza

Mohammad"Love Never Felt so Good" by Michael Jackson makes me feel like dancing with someone. It's a song that puts you in a good mood at any time and makes you wanna get up on your feet. The first time I ever heard it was in middle school when my friend played it for me. He knew Michael Jackson was one of my favorite artists, and was surprised when I didn’t know the song. 

"Crayon" by G Dragon makes me wanna go crazy and hypes me up. I feel like partying every time I hear it. The first time I heard it was also in middle school, after my best friend had shown me a song that G Dragon's group Big Bang had put out called "Fantastic Baby." I was entranced by their swagger and electronic pop/hip-hop feeling. So I searched them up, found "Crayon," and instantly liked it.

"Return of Simba" by J Cole makes me feel like a G, like I’m tough and confident. I first heard it when I was a sophomore in high school. I thought his vibe was dope and that he was a good artist, so I searched him up online and found all his songs. I loved it all, but "Return of Simba" was such a good "come up" song and I really love it.

Music is very important to me. It's my first form of self expression. It's been an outlet for me, a way to find myself and a way to join a community. The feeling you get from appreciating an artist’s work and finding out someone else does too is indescribable. As an aspiring artist as well, I write a lot of music and find myself looking to my favorite and most respected artists for inspiration. 

Photos: Alexis Buatti-Ramos
 
 

 
From East New York to West Harlem and from the South Bronx to Far Rockaway, witness the jubilant victories, recent discord and distant dreams of coming of age in Undesirable Elements: Generation NYZ

 
Posted by Beth Henderson
 |<  <  1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8  >  >|