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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.

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

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 Sasha Grunberg and her parents, Frank Grunberg and Patty Enright, who have been attending shows here since the late 1990s. Sasha is now twenty years old, a college student, and she’s a New Vic kid through and through.

"The earliest memories I have of The New Victory are my birthday parties," Sasha tells us. "New Vic-wide, I'm known as Birthday Party Sasha." Indeed, Sasha celebrated her January birthday here on multiple occasions, inviting dozens of family members and friends to see a New Victory show—often a holiday circus spectacle. "Because we were here so much, New Vic staff kind of became part of the family, and that's made it so much more special."
 

These birthday party invitations, designed by Sasha's dad, Frank Grunberg, incorporated the artwork for the shows that friends and family would get to see before the party: Circus Oz (2004), Aga-Boom (2005) and New Shanghai Circus (2007).

Sasha's earliest memory of seeing a theatrical performance predates her birthday parties at the New Vic. It was The Wizard of Oz when she was only three years old. "I remember going in the little Dorothy dress with the little ruby slippers. And I remember being so enthralled by these characters that I once saw in a movie or in a book put on a stage. I think that's a great experience for anyone to see, no matter what age."

Sasha's love of theater only grew from there, and her exposure to the performing arts as a kid has had a definitive impact on her. Describing the New Vic as a gateway to stage experience, Sasha credits her personal involvement in middle and high school theater with teaching her lifelong skills in organization, time management and artistic collaboration. "Coming to the New Vic sparked my interest in theater, which ultimately made me a more confident person." 
 
Sasha celebrates her 7th birthday at the New Vic
Patty lights the candles at Sasha's 7th birthday party, here at the New Vic in 2002. Photo: Frank Grunberg

Even before Sasha was old enough to attend shows here, Patty and Frank got involved with The New Victory. Before the theater opened in 1995, they recall receiving a letter in the mail asking whether they'd be interested in supporting high-quality theater for young audiences. Their donation twenty years ago resulted in an ongoing relationship, and they've since joined us for over fifty performances.

"We look forward to helping to support The New Victory's continued good work," says Patty, for whom providing access to affordable, quality programming is an important, personal goal. "My parents made culture a real issue. They exposed me and my siblings to a variety of music, dance, theater and art. I enjoyed every chance I got to be a part of the cultural scene." One of Patty’s favorite memories is of bringing her parents to The New Victory alongside Sasha, expanding their family theatergoing tradition across three generations. They always aimed for Sunday matinees with a family meal afterwards, using theater "as the foundation for time together as a family."

Sasha echoes this sentiment. When she was younger, her parents both had very busy work schedules. "So a show at the New Vic, for us," she explains, "was always a time that the three of us could be together, do something together as a family and all get something out of it." The familial experience extended to friends and neighbors, too. Sasha fondly recalls an elderly neighbor who attended one of her birthday parties that featured a chair-stacking Chinese circus act. The two of them joked for years afterward about how many chairs they themselves could stack. "How many chairs are you up to? I'm on 12!"

Being able to inspire kids like Sasha is why we do what we do at The New Victory, and Sasha recognizes this herself. This past summer she attended Victory Dance, and she saw her own childhood experience reflected in the awestruck faces of kids in the audience. "You never know where that spark is, and you don't know where that kid is sitting in the house. Someone could have the same experience as me, and pick up on something and say, 'Oh, I really loved the Martha Graham performance. I want to do ballet.' Or, 'I loved the sound the tap dancing shoes made. Let me try that.' That's important for kids!"

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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