Usher Spotlight

We launched the New Victory Usher Corps the day the theater opened in 1995 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 660 teens from across the city. Find out how young people can apply to be a part of this award-winning program here!

All season long, we’re featuring young people from the Usher Corps in our show programs and periodically on New Victory Stories. Niki Cruz, New 42’s Assistant Director of Media & Communications, interviewed College Corps usher Jaden Ricci about his experience ushering at the New Victory and his anticipation for our upcoming holiday show, Circus Abyssinia: Tulu.

Niki Cruz: What’s your favorite thing about being an usher?
Jaden Ricci: My favorite thing about being an usher is being able to help patrons get around the theater and also helping make their stay as easy and enjoyable as possible. I also like interacting with my usher peers as we are all a diverse group, and it is a very interesting group to be around. My most favorite thing about being an usher in this specific theater is that I feel welcomed by everyone and that this group of ushers is willing to help you and will interact with you.

NC: What do you do during your free time when you’re not working?
JR: When I’m not working, most of my free time is usually school-related, as I’m in college. I also like to watch TV shows and movies, hang out with friends and play video games.

NC: What was your first experience seeing a live circus?
JR: My first experience seeing a live circus was when I was young. I went to see a circus with my family called UniverSoul Circus in Brooklyn. I remember as a kid being thoroughly entertained and shocked as I saw all types of circus animals I’d never seen in person, such as elephants and tigers. I also was pleased to see the performers do many tricks such as acrobatics, blowing fire out towards the audience with their mouths, and walking on stilts.

NC: When you hear the words “Ethiopian circus,” what comes to mind?
JR: I imagine a circus made by people from Ethiopia who are adding their culture to their type of circus, making it different from the usual circus people are used to seeing.

NC: This show is inspired by Olympic gold medalist Derartu Tulu. What inspires you as a creative person?
JR: I am naturally a creative person, so when I feel creative it usually means my mind is active and feeding me ideas that I play off of and expand on. Seeing art, people and other things helps my mind to create stories and other creative ideas. I also became more creative when I started to study theater. It made me see many things through a new lens as I was taught things that I’d never learned or heard in my years before college.

NC: What are you most looking forward to seeing in Circus Abyssinia: Tulu? The acrobatics, the aerial acts, tricks involving fire?
JR: I’m most looking forward to seeing pretty much everything in Circus Abyssinia: Tulu, but especially seeing how they add a story element to their circus tricks. I also can’t wait to see the combination of African tradition and circus mixed together.

NC: What do you want to take away or learn from the show?
JR: What I hope to take away is that circuses don’t always have to stick to traditional or standard circus acts. And from an actor’s standpoint, I want to learn more about how to tell a story with only body movements.

Say hello to Jaden and catch Circus Abyssinia: Tulu on stage at New Victory Theater from December 9 through January 1.