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.

Written by Auriane Desombre, Spring 2017 Communications Apprentice

The New Victory Theater prides itself on its interactive activities and enriching programs for kids and their families. However, it's rare that we get to see kids performing up on our stage. This season is the exception with 26 kids under the age of fourteen taking their bows in Aging Magician! Narrating the opera-theater work, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus joins Harold onstage as he reflects on his unusual life. Giving us the inside scoop are two members of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Mariana (12) and Andrei (13).

Mariana"Aging Magician—it's complicated." Mariana says. "It's about this man who has a heart attack on the subway, and throughout the show he goes between being in reality, and being in a story he is writing. He remembers things from his childhood and rediscovers the magic of his life. There are so many different aspects to discover."

"It fills me with a sense of both melancholy and joy since it's a very profound piece," Andrei tells us. "It’s a beautiful piece of music that combines songs with theater and even puppetry to illustrate a man reflecting on his life, memories and aspirations."

Mariana wholeheartedly agrees, "It's just an amazing show that I love a lot."

Joining the show as part of the chorus comes with a lot of challenges, and requires a whole new way of thinking about your performance. "When you're working in an ensemble, you always feel that you have to be more reliable," Andrei says. "You not only think about if what you’re doing will help you, but how will it affect the larger ensemble." Of course, as members of a chorus dedicated to artistic innovation, these performers are more than up to the task.

The Brooklyn Youth Chorus has been working on Aging Magician for three years, so bringing the show to life has been a long process. Being a part of that creative journey can be the most rewarding part of the performance, though. As Mariana says, there's nothing like seeing the results of your creativity coming together to make you feel inspired.

Andrei"I feel like the show is a puppet in itself. You're putting it together, creating its personality, and creating the way that it moves and speaks," Mariana explains. "The way we do that makes me feel like I have a part in that 'puppet' and its way of life."

Taking that "puppet" and performing in front of a live audience might sound daunting to many, but Mariana and Andrei feel right at home onstage. "The stage is like a home away from home,” Mariana says. "It just brings a familiar feeling to me that I love."

The New Victory stage certainly feels like home to Andrei. When he saw a show at the New Vic for the first time, he was so enthralled by the performance that he told his dad,  "Wow, I'd really like to do that when I grow up!" Andrei is thrilled to be living out his dream on the New Vic stage, where he was first inspired to become a performer.

For Mariana, the New Vic stage comes with another ingredient—the audience. "The fact that we’re performing for kids that look up to us makes it even better. To see the wonder on their faces—I can't wait."

Neither can we! Come see Aging Magician next week to catch Mariana, Andrei, and the rest of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus in action on the New Vic stage.
New Victory Thumb Auriane Desombre studies English at NYU, where she's wrapping up her senior year with an honors thesis. Outside of her classes, she reviews theater for Stagebuddy, and has written for Cracked and Urbanette. Her favorite writing collaboration thus far, though, would be the time Lin-Manuel Miranda replied to one of her tweets.

On Monday, January 9, actor and arts education advocate Ben Vereen presented our Director of Artistic Programming Mary Rose Lloyd with the William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence and Sustained Achievement in Programming. Mary received this honor from her peers at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, the world's largest forum of international presenters, artists, managers, agents and arts leaders. We applaud her remarkable achievement in redefining quality performing arts for young people through her 20 years of spirited, revelatory and bold curatorial work at The New Victory Theater.​ These are her remarks on the importance of quality theatrical programming for kids. 
Mary Rose Lloyd at APAP
L to R: Laurie Anderson, Mikki Shepherd, APAP Board Chair Dr. Michael Blachly, Mary Rose Lloyd, APAP President and CEO Mario Garcia Durham, Laura Colby, Michele Roberge

I am, on behalf of the entire New Victory Theater team, so deeply honored to receive an artistic programming award from this group who I revere so much and with whom I've been a part since my grad school days in the 90s. (When I was 14 of course.)

Back then I didn't really know what a presenter was until I was lucky enough to get to work with Joe Melillo at BAM and learn from the absolute very best. As a mentor, Joe opened my eyes to the possibilities of curating wonderful work for specific spaces...matching artists to venues & communities, both nationally and internationally. My experience as a presenter grew even more meaningful when I was hired by the remarkable Cora Cahan, President of the New 42nd Street. The New Victory Theater is one of seven historic theaters located between 7th and 8th Avenues, theaters which comprise the whole of the "New" 42nd Street, here in New York. Cora and the Board of the New 42 had the original vision to establish, in one of those theaters, what was–incredibly–missing from the landscape of New York culture–a theater dedicated solely to presenting the very best work from around the world for young audiences and families.

Now, here, well over 20 years later, it means so much to us, and to the entire field of live arts for young people, that the New Victory is being honored for our artistic programming in this incredibly important field. As a matter of fact, this whole week there has seen a swelling of passionate conversation around the importance of quality performing arts in the lives of children. From the APAP/IPAY pre-conference workshop last Thursday led by the inspiring Sarah McCarthy and Boomer Stacey, to the 6th annual conversation on theater for young audiences led by the indomitable Monique Martin on Friday, to the weekend symposium on #CreatingQualityTYA co-hosted by the American Alliance of Theater Educators and the New Victory, topped off today, where focus is placed on artistic excellence in programming for young audiences. I have collaborated with this tribe of indefatigable heroes and advocates for the creation of compelling performing arts for people of all ages.
Mary Rose Lloyd with Ben Vereen
Mary Rose Lloyd with Ben Vereen

Here's the bottom line: it is our job to support, make and/or present bold, extraordinary, visionary work for young audiences. Work that tells their stories and reflects their worlds. Every child has the right to have access to this work now, I'd offer, more than ever. It is vital the we champion the building of and caring for our children's humanity, their ability to feel empathy and to be curious about their fellow, global citizens of this world. The platform of theater is a great way to do this. Not only to create "future" audiences, but to also respect the intelligence and the imaginations of young people now, and make work for them to absorb now. We must reflect in this work the diversity of our children, celebrate our differences, so that everyone, every child over these next few years, whether gay, straight, trans, black, white, Latino, mid-western, southern, east or west coast feels they have an equal place in this world and can utilize the power of artistic expression to fight ignorance. So spread the word. Encourage our best, brightest, most incendiary artists that there need not be a demarcation line between the quality or the intensity of work made for adults as that made for young people.

In closing, I'll just say that you’re most likely a fan of the New Vic because when you were young you were either a part of a show, in an audience of a show or were part of a family who provided cultural experiences for their children. Don't lose sight of that child you once were. Take that child into the great, good work you do and connect with the youngest folks in your audiences to the end of your–and their–imaginations and back.

Mary Rose Lloyd Read more about Mary Rose Lloyd in a blog celebrating her 20 incredible years at The New Victory Theater!
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