North Caldwell students delight with ‘Shrek the Musical, Jr.

By DEREK ALLEN Staff Writer

NORTH CALDWELL – The show was not “ogre” until the donkey sang at the grades K-6 Gould School, where students sang and danced in fairytale costumes in the West Essex Middle School auditorium for “Shrek the Musical, Jr.”

The play was directed by Pushcart Players, a touring non-profit theater company specializing in arts education for children. Students performed the play twice, on Friday, April 21 and on Saturday, April 22.

“The students have been reading their scripts and practicing their songs since January, and we couldn’t be more proud of the time and effort they have put forth to make this another great production,” said Gould School Principal Chris Cecchetto. “This storyline is particularly applicable to students at this age, who are learning to accept everyone, regardless of their differences.”

The cast was made up of of 40 fourth, fifth, and sixth graders, playing the parts of main characters like Shrek, Donkey and Fiona. Students also made cameos dressed as classic fairytale characters like the three blind mice, Peter Pan, the three little pigs, the Ugly Duckling and Pinocchio.

“Theater has a terrific way of providing kids with an outlet from academics while honing essential life skills, like verbal and non-verbal communication, collaboration, and stick-to-itiveness, just to name a few,” said Michelle Rombough, a parent co-coordinator for the play.

The musical begins once upon a time, with a swamp-living ogre named Shrek. One day, he wakes up to find his swamp has been invaded by fairytale creatures, who have been banished from the kingdom by a local Lord. Shrek sets off with his new friend, Donkey, to confront Lord Farquaad, and is instructed to rescue Princess Fiona in order to reclaim his swamp.

Board of Education member Jann Skelton said the musical was filled with laughs, surprises, and lessons about beauty and self-acceptance.

“The students gained confidence as they focused their time and efforts on the production, and that hard work paid off,” said Skelton. “It is an incredible experience to watch the student’s confidence and skills grow in just a few months.”

Superintendent Linda Freda said she was amazed by students who played parts in the musical.

“Watching them grow in talent and perform was fantastic. It was like a Broadway musical,” she said.

Lauren Mills and Jennifer Wilson from Pushcart Players were the Director and Assistant Director of the production. Gould school Instrumental Music teacher James Brady was Music Director. The program was coordinated through the North Caldwell Partnership for Education’s After-School Enrichment Program.

 

http://www.newjerseyhills.com/the_progress/news/north-caldwell-students-delight-with-shrek-the-musical-jr/article_62391326-6d05-52ac-9845-1c5f45dc1ccf.html

 

Pushcart Players Awarded Contract For Non-Profit Arts Partner At Martin Luther King School No. 6

Pushcart Players, the renowned touring theater for young audiences celebrating its 43rd year, has been awarded the contract for Non-Profit Arts Partner of “Readers Theater – AIM to Achieve Project” at Martin Luther King School No. 6 in Passaic New Jersey. This first time board of education grant is for a pilot program in which Pushcart teaching artists will be engaged throughout the 2016-17 academic year in this unique Title I school.

The “Reader’s Theater – AIM to Achieve Project” (Arts Integration at MLK) is an afterschool program for first through fourth grade students.  From January through June, in one session out of five each week, Pushcart teaching artists provide the theatrical component of a program that delivers dynamic participation in multiple art forms. AIM to Achieve addresses NJ Student Language Arts Standards for comprehension, fluency, and writing, and NJ Standards for Theater, Music, and Visual Art. Consistent with the MLK No. 6 goal of becoming a leading urban school district in the State, their focus is to provide every student the opportunity to complete sixth grade reading at or above grade level.

Pushcart concentrates with the students on a number of stories throughout the year. Guided by dedicated teachers on the MLK faculty, the children work on reading, comprehension, and, presentation. Visiting teachers and teaching artists provide a visual arts component, wherein props are created and constructed by the students. Music teachers support the work by engaging the young learners in music and musical enhancement of each story.

Pushcart teachers and teaching artists direct the theatricality of the performance, giving instruction on theater technique and terminology; use of voice, body, and imagination in character creation; stage directions and choreography, and public performance skills.

“During this twenty-two week program, the learners will greatly improve their reading skills through the creation of theater,” said Paul Whelihan, Pushcart producing artistic director, and one of the teaching artists for the AIM to Achieve initiative. “I follow a very similar process for guiding these young actors as I do when directing the professionals in Pushcart’s troupe – perhaps a slightly more age-appropriate academic approach. But by translating stories for the stage, we open an engaging pathway to learning both language and reading skills, while vastly improving comprehension. And, I have to say, the process is a whole lot of fun — not only for the children, but for their teachers!”

Ellen Beattie, the Pushcart co-teaching artist for AIM to Achieve, is a theater teacher and director at Franklin Middle School in Somerset, NJ. A professional actor, theater administrator, casting director, and producer before becoming a drama teacher twelve years ago, Beattie has a long standing relationship with Pushcart Players, variously as an artist, staff member, and trustee on the board of directors.

Funding for the AIM project is through the NJ Board of Education Title I Arts-Integration Program. This is a federally-funded pilot program designed to explore and investigate how arts education can be applied as a strategy to assist Title I students in meeting New Jersey’s academic achievement standards. It is also designed to bolster school improvement efforts. Title I grants are intended to ensure that the most financially and socially disadvantaged children have a fair, equal and significant opportunity to obtain a high quality education and reach proficiency on challenging state academic standards and assessments.

This and many similar projects are supported by the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (NJAEP), a diverse group of constituents who agree on the educational benefits and impact of the arts, specifically the contribution they make to student achievement and a civilized, sustainable society. In September, NJAEP launched the “Arts Ed Now” campaign. Spurred by collaboration with the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and Americans for the Arts, “Arts Ed Now” is a multi-year campaign designed to increase participation in arts education in schools across the Garden State. Pushcart Players serves on the NJAEP Steering Committee. Visit www.ArtsEdNow.org for further information and resources.

Pushcart Players is the award-winning professional touring theater company specializing in arts education for children. Twice nominated for an Emmy©, Pushcart is the recipient of numerous state and private awards for excellence and innovation. A social-profit organization founded in 1974, Pushcart brings substantive musical theater, workshops, and residencies to young people and their families in schools and theaters nationwide. The company has traveled more than 6 million miles nationally and abroad, from the rural red schoolhouse to the nation’s White House.

Pushcart Players addresses social studies, literature, history, the Autism spectrum, special educational needs, and values clarification for young people, their families, and their educators. All performances by professional artists (Actors’ Equity Association) are supported by study guides, post-performance assessments and other supplemental materials, and adapt to any location with innovative scenery, lighting and sound systems.

PHOTO:  Ellen Beattie conducts AIM To Achieve Session at MLK School 6 in Passaic. Photo by Harvey Glick

To view this article please visit http://www.newjerseystage.com/articles/getarticle.php?titlelink=pushcart-players-awarded-contract-for-non-profit-arts-partner-at-martin-luther-king-school-no-6.

 

 

Pushcart’s 2017 Arts Education Programs

From an individual workshop to a long term residency, Pushcart makes arts education come alive. Our programs are uniquely designed to meet your needs.
HERE’S WHAT WE’RE WORKING ON THIS YEAR

The Learning Center
Clifton, NJ
FROM PAGE TO STAGE
A story-telling theater program. Each week from October to June, teaching artist Gerry Fierst conducts in-depth classes on the art of story telling. In three segments exploring folk tales, family history, and poetry, students create and perform their own work, and reap all the educational and social benefits of doing so!
The Learning Center has two schools — one dedicated to serving the needs of regular education students through eighth grade and the other to students on the Autism spectrum and with other cognitive disabilities in preschool through high school.
TITLE I SCHOOLS ARTS INTEGRATION

Martin Luther King School No. 6
Passaic, NJ
Reader’s Theater – AIM to Achieve Project
From January through June, Pushcart Players is the Non-Profit Arts Partner in this after-school literacy initiative. In one session out of five each week, Pushcart teaches the theatrical component of a program that provides students with active participation in multiple art forms. AIM to ACHIEVE addresses NJ Student Language Arts Standards for comprehension, fluency and writing, and NJ Arts Standards of Theater, Music and Visual Art.
PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE of STUDENT SHOWS

At schools, learning centers, and camps in New Jersey, New York and Arizona

KIDS DO BROADWAY

A program that spans from three weeks to four months. Pushcart’s professional stage directors and teaching artists guide student performances of popular American musicals that have played the Great White Way. And through our “Pushcart Jr.” series, titles in the Pushcart repertoire are adapted for large student casts.
Pushcart provides technical production elements and coordinates the collaboration of students, teachers, parents, and community.
We structure the program to meet YOUR needs.
Call 973.857.1115

to arrange arts learning in your school

Pushcart Players To Bring STONE SOUP AND OTHER STORIES To Union County PAC

Pushcart Players, New Jersey’s Emmy nominated and award-winning touring theater for young audiences presents “Stone Soup…and other stories” at 10:30 am on Wednesday, February 8 at Union County Performing Arts Center, Rahway NJ.

“Stone Soup…” is a charming musical compilation of short literary favorites from Africa, India, Eastern Europe and the United States of America. Filled with exuberant music, fantasy, and comic plot lines, each tale introduces the spirit and customs of these unique cultures. In so doing, the production provides a springboard for reading and subsequent literacy-related activities.

“The play gently raises universal value clarification issues,” said Ruth Fost, Pushcart’s founder and co-author of the play. “Family audiences will be delighted by the show. Then they’ll find themselves discussing why certain characters made certain choices, and how outcomes would have differed with different behavior. That being said, the show is still a fun-filled romp through delightful stories.”

The cast of “Stone Soup…and other stories” includes: Oscar Castillo, Christina Gordon, Chris Morrissey and Phebe Taylor. Artistic director Paul Whelihan guides the production. Orchestrations are by Tony Award-winner, Larry Hochman. Choreography is by Susie Paplow.

Oscar Castillo, a graduate of Kean University with a BFA in theatre, co-founded The Theatre Project and performs frequently throughout NYC with Peculiar Works Productions. Christina Gordon is a New Jersey native with an M.F.A. in Acting from Rutgers University/ Mason Gross School of the Arts. She’s performed in “Good People” (The Public Theatre & Shadowland Theatre), “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “As You Like It” and “Reasons to be Pretty.” Television credits include: “HAPPYish,” “Person of Interest” and “Guiding Light.” She can be seen in the films “I Hate Being Black” (which she co-wrote and produced) and “Damsel.”

Chris Morrissey recently graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) where he received the Lehman Engel Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre. Chris has performed at venues across the country including Paper Mill Playhouse, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center. Phebe Taylor has been a Pushcart Player since 2004. She was recently seen flying around as Peter in “Peter Pan” at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre. A company member of the Heartland Actors’ Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, she appears in their summer Shakespeare productions, and is a frequent performer at Indianapolis’ Phoenix Theatre, in such shows as “Urinetown,” “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” “The Zippers of Zoomerville,” “Boston Marriage,” “Peter and the Starcatcher,” and the National New Play Network’s “Rolling World Premiere” of “End Days”.

Paul Whelihan directs, stage-manages and performs off-Broadway (47th Street Theater, 59 East 59 Theatres, NY Fringe Festival, 54 Below) and regionally (Royal Poincianna Playhouse, Broward Center for the Arts, Centenary Stage, The Bickford Theatre, The Growing Stage, Luna Stage Company, Forum Cultural Arts Center, Quillo Arts Center, Premiere Stages, Dreamcatcher Rep) in musicals, dramas, and original works. He has appeared in locally produced television, film, and web series projects.

Larry Hochman is the Tony Award-winner for orchestrations for “She Loves Me” (2016 revival) and Tony and Drama Desk award-winner for “The Book of Mormon.” He received Tony nominations for “The Scottsboro Boys,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” (Hochman also received Drama Desk nominations for both), “Fiddler on the Roof” (2004 revival) and “A Class Act.” Larry composed additional music for Disney’s “Little Mermaid,’ for Stephen Spielberg‘s “Amazing Stories” and for numerous celebrity concerts. Hochman’s other awards include the ASCAP Award for Musical Theater (“One Man Band”), 4 Emmy Awards for “The Wonder Pets” television series, and a Bistro Award for composing “One Man Band.”

Pushcart Players is the award-winning professional touring theater company specializing in arts education for children. Twice nominated for an Emmy©, Pushcart is the recipient of numerous state and private awards for excellence and innovation. A social-profit organization founded in 1974, Pushcart brings substantive musical theater, workshops, and residencies to young people and their families in schools and theaters nationwide. The company has traveled more than 6 million miles nationally and abroad, from the nation’s White House to the rural red schoolhouse.

Pushcart Players addresses social studies, literature, history, the Autism spectrum, special educational needs, and values clarification for young people, their families, and their educators. All performances by professional artists (Actors’ Equity Association) are supported by study guides, post-performance assessments and other supplemental materials, and adapt to any location with innovative scenery, lighting and sound systems.

Union County Performing Arts Center provides quality programming and performances that are educational, affordable and enrich the arts within the diverse community. The Center offers musicals and plays presented by NJ theater troupes, classic and independent film presentations, multicultural programs and events, and live music concerts (www.ucpac.org). All Pushcart Players performances take place in UCPAC’s mainstage theater, a grand venue listed in both state and national registers of historic sites. Built in 1928, it is the centerpiece of the recently established arts district of Rahway.

UCPAC is located at 1601 Irving Street | Rahway. Single tickets are $15, with discounts for groups of ten or more. For single tickets, visit the UCPAC website or call the box office at 732-499-8226. For group sales, contact Pushcart Players at 973-857-1115.