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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.

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

The New Victory Theater launched the New Victory Usher Corps the day the theater opened to provide paid employment, job training, academic support, mentorship and an introduction to the performing arts for over 50 young New Yorkers each year. Since then, the program has provided over 400,000 hours of paid employment to over 500 NYC teens from across the city. Find out how the young people in your life can apply to be a part of this award-winning program here!

All season long, we'll be featuring young people from our Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory Blog. Today we're talking to third-year usher Dylan Christou from Astoria, Queens.  
 
Dylan Christou
My favorite show at the New Victory was…
I really liked The Old Man and the Old Moon because of the folk music in the show. Also, the set and lighting were very impressive.

The thing I like most about being an usher is…
I like being exposed to a variety of theatrical genres.

My favorite memory of working as an usher was…
I liked going to a school in the Bronx to speak to kids about the Usher Program. It made me feel like a leader and proud to be a part of such a great organization. 

My love of theater started…
When I saw shows at the New Victory with my sister when we were little.

What was your favorite story as a kid?
I really loved the Captain Underpants series because of all of the humor. It also had the Flip-o-Rama, where you turned the page really quickly and the pictures became animations!

What is your favorite subject in school?
My favorite class right now is Marketing because I have a teacher who makes it very exciting.

What’s your favorite NYC hangout or neighborhood?
I like to hang out in SoHo and Astoria. SoHo is a prime location. It is very lively and active and full of people. Astoria is home.

Describe your dream vacation.
I would love to go on a road trip across the country from New York to California. 

 
New Victory Thumb Want to learn more about The New Victory Theater Usher Program? Take a look here!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson
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