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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.

This interview was previously seen in the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Newsletter. 

The Grammy Award–winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus is gearing up for the New York premiere of Aging Magician right here at The New Victory Theater! The creative masterpiece of composer Paola Prestini and librettist/performer Rinde Eckert, Aging Magician is a composite of sonic and visual elements that paints an allegory on time, youth and the peculiar magic of ordinary life, and, perhaps, the ordinary magic of a peculiar life.

Accompanied by the Attacca Quartet, Aging Magician moves us along with Harold from the surgical repair of a timepiece to the magic show of time itself, lives and deaths, appearances and disappearances. We asked composer Paola Prestini and director Julian Crouch about what to expect from its New York debut. 
 

 

Paola Prestini Paola Prestini
Can you walk us through Harold’s journey? What is it that makes him so interesting?

JC: Basically Harold is writing a book about an aging magician who, in turn, is searching for a young boy to pass his knowledge on to. Harold takes a physical journey which follows the F train to Coney Island but simultaneously through his memories.

Are there any specific sources of inspiration for Aging Magician?

PP: I was listening to Triplets of Belleville, and a wide roster of influences: music from Tunisia, folk music from Mexico, some of the grand musicals from the 40-50’s...and of course all the operatic work I love!

What can audiences expect from Aging Magician and from the character Harold?

PP: Audiences can expect an interdisciplinary journey of music, theater, opera and puppetry led by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus into the life of our ordinary and wonderful lead, Harold.

What was your (Julian and Paola’s) collaboration with each other–and Rinde–like?

PP: We worked together on concept, story, and we have our ebb and flow. For example, with Rinde, we’ve gone back and forth—where sometime I write music and he fills in text. Julian is exquisitely sensitive to music, and he understands structure innately, so he often comments and helps on that end. 
 

 

Julian Crouch Julian Crouch
JC: As far as the writing goes, Paola and Rinde do the hard work (music and libretto) while I act as a kind of dramaturg, focusing mainly on theatrical structure. As director and co-designer, I am also responsible for the staging and the visual cohesion of the piece with collaborators Mark Stewart (instrument designer/sculptor), Amy Rubin (co-designer) and Josh Higgason (projection and lighting design).

What was designing for Aging Magician like compared to your other work? 

JC: To be honest, every piece of work has its own character. However, the main joy of Aging Magician and what makes it unusual for me is the opportunity to take advantage of a conducted chorus, not just as a musical element but also as mass image generator.

What does the chorus represent in Aging Magician?

PP: The chorus was inspired by the gondolier Charon the Ferryman, who crosses the souls across the river Styx. The chorus ushers, cajoles and helps Harold on this ultimate journey of a lifetime. 
 

 

The Puppetry in Aging Magician Choristers from Brooklyn Youth Chorus in a moment of puppetry with Harold, portrayed by Aging Magician librettist Rinde Eckert
Julian, your work often features puppetry or live animation. Does the show have any puppetry?

JC: There nothing in this show that someone would call a conventional puppet. But certainly objects and materials are manipulated using puppetry skills. So puppetry, but no puppets. 

What is the most challenging aspect of working together on Aging Magician

JC: Coordination of calendars…We are all busy people. Other than that, just the usual challenge of artists trying to create an extraordinary piece.

PP: I loved it all. The challenges, as always, are the time each discipline takes and making sure everyone’s process is respected. I couldn’t ask for a more extraordinary cast of characters and collaborators.
 
New Victory Thumb Experience the peculiar magic of Aging Magician today!
Posted by Beth Henderson
There's juggling and then there's THIS. In the New Vic's first ever all-juggling show, Wes, Tony and Patrik take to the stage to perform jaw dropping, giggle inducing, eye popping stunts that you have to see to believe. We had a chance to ask them a few questions about their juggling journey!
 

 

Water on Mars From left to right: Patrik, Tony and Wes
When did you first start juggling?

We all started juggling very young. At the ages 5, 7 and 8. It's never too early, though. Some jugglers start at age 3!

What is the strangest thing you've ever juggled? 

The strangest thing we have juggled would have to be ice cream cones or cactuses. You have to flip them in a weird way so you don't get jabbed by the cactus!

Tell us more about the name Water on Mars. What does it mean?

Water on Mars, to us, represents the idea of an exciting discovery! When we juggle, we're constantly researching new tricks and new ways of juggling. Remember the wonder mankind felt when water on Mars was discovered? We want to have that kind of amazement fill every aspect of our juggling. 

Do you have any advice for kids who want to start juggling?

Talent is such a small part of being a good juggler. If you want to be a juggler, just start practicing and never stop. YouTube has thousands of great tutorials to get you started! 

What sets your show apart from other juggling acts?

Our show is different because we took three completely different and unique jugglers and combined all of our skills, ideas and brainpower to come up with something that brings out the best in us. 

How did you guys first meet?

We all come from very different backgrounds. Tony studied musical theater and dance; Patrik studied acrobatics and circus; and Wes learned juggling from his father, who was also a juggler. We met at the University of Dance and Circus in Stockholm, Sweden.

What is the best part of being a professional juggler?

We get to juggle toilet paper for all kinds of people all over the world! 

How high can you juggle?

We cannot toss or juggle anything as high as Mars... but we're working on it.

What do you hope kids and families will take away from Water on Mars?

Our goal is to push the boundaries of the art form and your understanding of what it means to juggle. We hope this show sparks a sense of exploration of curiosity to invent something new!
 

Wes Peden (USA) won a Bronze Medal at the 33rd Festival Mondial du Cirque de Demain. He has performed in 18 different countries, including shows for the King and Queen of Sweden on three separate occasions. Wes graduated from the University of Dance and Circus with a degree in juggling and lives in Stockholm, Sweden.

Tony Pezzo (USA) is one of the most creative minds ever to pick up juggling props. With his fingers on the pulse of youth culture and his eyes on the prize he calmly turns the world upside down with his mind-bending catches and physics-breaking throws. As an American, Tony subscribes to the idea that no matter how much tap dance you performed as a child you can still move to Sweden and make the cover of Vogue for juggling.

Patrik Elmnert (Sweden) was born in Uppsala, Sweden in 1989. He started performing at the age of nine, dressed in a tailcoat and a glitter top hat. Patrik has spent most of his time this past decade researching and specializing in ring and club juggling. Since his graduation from the University of Dance and Circus in Stockholm, Sweden, he has performed on five of the seven continents on this planet. 
 
 
New Victory Thumb Drop everything and come to see Water on Mars! Get your tickets today.
Posted by Beth Henderson
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