NJ State Bar Foundation Funds Pushcart Players’ A MORE PERFECT UNION

Pushcart Players, New Jersey’s award winning touring educational theater for families has received a generous grant from The New Jersey State Bar Foundation to fund the latest musical in the repertoire, “A More Perfect Union.” The Foundation’s investment will make free and reduced rate performances available to New Jersey schools through Pushcart’s outreach initiatives.

“Within Pushcart’s mission is reaching all young people in our schools,” said Paul Whelihan, Pushcart Players producing artistic director. “We identify barriers to active arts participation – economic, geographic, administrative. With the enlightened support of organizations like the Bar Foundation, we’re able to overcome those barriers and share the live theater experience with young people who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity.”

“A More Perfect Union” is a musical that captivates the spirit, action, and causes of the United States founders as they formulated the Constitution. It remains timely today as basic constitutional tenets continue to be a part of the national conversation, particularly in the presidential election year of 2020. While detailing some broad, sweeping historical events and concepts, the play’s focus is on ordinary citizens involved in extraordinary events: Luke, Rebecca, Benjamin, and Abby. Through their eyes the story is told and the history unfolds. While addressing the complexities and conflicts of the period, the tone is purposefully light hearted. Through song, dance, and scene, history is made accessible to a young, contemporary audience.

The NJ State Bar Foundation is a nonprofit educational and philanthropic organization that offers a wide variety of free law-related education programs and services for teachers and their students in the Garden State. With the certainty that informed citizens make better citizens, the fundamental purpose of the Foundation is to affect people’s lives by helping them better understand the laws that impact them every day. Whether educating students about the justice system through their mock trial programs, training teachers to better combat teasing and bullying, or keeping students up to date with timely articles on social justice issues, quality programming is the hallmark of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation.

“”We’ve discovered a creative way to synergize the missions of both our organizations,” added Whelihan. “And the targeted group for ‘…Union’ opens up a population of younger learners than the Foundation has typically served. We’re extremely grateful for these opportunities”

Pushcart Players is the 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. Founded in 1974, Pushcart brings substantive musical theater, workshops, and residencies to young people in schools and theaters nationwide. The company has traveled more than 2.5 million miles nationally and abroad, from the rural red schoolhouse to the nation’s White House.

Pushcart Players pioneered the movement to make the arts a central part of the school curriculum, and continues to be in the vanguard of this commitment. The company provides opportunities for meaningful arts learning in its 33 wonderful, wildly original musical plays and myriad classes for young learners.  Both the plays and classes introduce the joy and magic of the live theater experience while underscoring many rich curriculum connections such as history, diversity, equity, inclusion, human values, science, responsible behavior, and social value clarification issues.

All performances by professional artists and technicians (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.

Pushcart has a significant theater education program, providing in-school workshops, direction of student productions and curriculum development for elementary and middle schools. Pushcart cast members are experienced teaching artists, and provide workshops, acting classes and residency programs to schools, community centers and summer session programs.

“A More Perfect Union” is appropriate for students in grades 1 through 6, and is available throughout the 2019-20 school year. Schools interested in learning about or booking a show through Pushcart Players’ outreach program with  the NJ State Bar Foundation should call Pushcart at 973-857-1115, or email Corey Whelihan, Development Officer at corey@pushcartplayers.org.

For further information about this or any of Pushcart Players’ programs and services, visit www.pushcartplayers.org.

As a social-profit organization, Pushcart Players’ programs are made possible in part by The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, NJ State Council on the Arts/Department of State, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Pine Tree Foundation of New York, Actors’ Equity Foundation, Community Foundation of NJ, ADP Foundation, The Community Foundation of NJ, EJ Grassmann Trust, Hyde & Watson Foundation, The Montclair Foundation, NJ State Bar Foundation, Park West Foundation, PNC Bank/Lillian Schenck Foundation, The Turrell Fund, The Puffin Foundation, The Whitehill Foundation and numerous individual contributors.

Pushcart Players Celebrates 45th Anniversary Honoring Larry Hochman

Pushcart Players, the Garden State’s premier touring educational theater for families commemorates its 45th year of bringing something special to every young audience with a celebration at The Crosby, Montclair on Sunday, October 13, 2019.

In celebrating the milestone event, Pushcart is honoring award winning composer and orchestrator, Larry Hochman. His career spans over 40 years and encompasses theater, film, recordings, concerts, television, and video games. Most well known as for his work in theater, Larry has orchestrated over a hundred musicals.  His first opportunity to orchestrate a show was Pushcart’s Emmy-Nominated TV special, Friends and Feelings in 1977, and one of his most recent is The Velveteen Rabbit, which Larry celebrates as his 22nd show with Pushcart Players.

Beginning his Broadway experience in 1974 as a pit pianist for Pippin, Larry has become one of The Great White Way’s most established musicians. His 18 Broadway shows as orchestrator include SpamalotThe Addams FamilyPippin (2013 Revival), The Scottsboro BoysJane EyreSomething Rotten, She Loves Me, and The Prom. He has won the Tony Award (The Book of Mormon), two Drama Desk Awards, and The Outer Critics Circle Award (Hello Dolly). This year he received his 9th Tony Award Nomination, for his orchestration of Kiss Me Kate, also his 9th Emmy nomination, as composer for PBS’s Peg + Cat.

“We are enormously grateful to Larry for his exceptional work over the years,” said Paul Whelihan, Pushcart Players’ producing artistic director. “While he’s become a celebrity in the various mediums in which he creates, he continues to bring his talents to Pushcart’s family audiences nationwide. And we’re proud to call him ‘friend!’”

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. Founded in 1974, Pushcart brings substantive musical theater, workshops, and residencies to young people in schools and theaters nationwide. The company has traveled more than 2.5 million miles nationally and abroad, from the rural red schoolhouse to the nation’s White House.

Pushcart Players pioneered the movement to make the arts a central part of the school curriculum, and continues to be in the vanguard of this commitment. The company provides opportunities for meaningful arts learning in its 33 wonderful, wildly original musical plays and myriad classes for young learners.  Both the plays and classes introduce the joy and magic of the live theater experience while underscoring many rich curriculum connections such as history, diversity, equity, inclusion, human values, science, responsible behavior, and social value clarification issues.

All performances by professional artists and technicians (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.

Pushcart has a significant theater education program, providing in-school workshops, direction of student productions and curriculum development for elementary and middle schools. Pushcart cast members are experienced teaching artists, and provide workshops, acting classes and residency programs to schools, community centers and summer session programs.

The 45th Anniversary Celebration takes place at The Crosby, 193 Glenridge Avenue from 12:00 to 3:00 pm. Guests will enjoy a complete brunch and have the opportunity to participate in a silent auction of items ranging from local spa treatments, to Norman Rockwell prints, to New Jersey Theater packages.

Tickets to the event may be reserved by calling Pushcart at 973-857-1115, or may be purchased online at www.pushcartplayers.org/celebrate.

As a social-profit organization, Pushcart Players’ programs are made possible in part by The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, NJ State Council on the Arts/Department of State, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Pine Tree Foundation of New York, Actors’ Equity Foundation, Community Foundation of NJ, ADP Foundation, The Community Foundation of NJ, EJ Grassmann Trust, Hyde & Watson Foundation, The Montclair Foundation, NJ Bar Foundation, Park West Foundation, PNC Bank/Lillian Schenck Foundation, The Turrell Fund, The Puffin Foundation, The Whitehill Foundation and numerous individual contributors.

Pushcart Artistic Director Performs in ‘TALK TO ME’

Pushcart Players Artistic Director, Paul Whelihan will be performing in the play about aphasia, “Talk To Me’” by Megan Bussiere. Performances of this Actors’ Equity showcase are Friday, June 28th  through Sunday, June 30th 2019 at TheaterLab, located at 357 West 36th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY (www.theaterlabnyc.com).

“’Talk To Me’ is a play that follows a support group for people living with aphasia,” said Whelihan. “The very point of theater is to teach us about ourselves, to teach us about others, and to grow in compassion for both. And that growth hopefully compels us to meaningful action.”

Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person’s ability to process language, but does not affect intelligence; Aphasia impacts the ability to speak and understand others (https://www.aphasia.org/). “Talk To Me” follows a support group for people living with aphasia. When they discover that their clinic, located on a university campus, is in danger of closing, they band together in an elaborate plan to save their community.

“I am so grateful to be a part of Megan’s work,” said Whelihan. “Her passion for this subject opens up a dialogue that we’re not necessarily familiar with. My father, who passed away in 2004, was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a nerve disorder which manifests symptoms very similar to aphasia. He was a brilliant thinker, a wordsmith, and an orator. He lost his ability to speak, read, and control his muscles, but never lost his intelligence.

“People who did not know him may have dismissed him as ‘being crazy.’ ‘Talk To Me’ creates a pathway to communication about those things we don’t understand, and may, perhaps frighten us.” Whelihan concluded, “Fear should never keep us from each other…or ourselves.”

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, Premier Stages, Dreamcatcher Rep) in musicals, dramas, original works and locally produced television, film and web series projects.

Megan Bussiere appears in the show as well as being the playwright of “Talk To Me” (2016 Bauer-Boucher Playwriting Award finalist). Megan graduated from Kean University with her MA in Speech Pathology and a minor in theater, and currently works as a private accent modification coach with AccentsOff in midtown Manhattan. She has performed around the world and in films “Cabin of Errors,” and “Click Send” (Amazon). She is currently a writer for the 2018-2020 Propulsion Lab with Mission to (dit)Mars, which recently hosted a staged reading of her new play End of the Line. Her feminist play A Period Piece (2019 O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference finalist, 2019 Playwrights Foundation/BAPF semi-finalist) will be produced this summer in NYC with The Shrill Collective. (// www.meganbussiere.com & @meganbussiere)

Tickets to “Talk To Me” are $20. A portion of the proceeds from the ticket sales of this production are being donated to the National Aphasia Association, as well as the aphasia support groups of Kean University, JFK Medical Center, and Adler Aphasia Center. Tickets may be ordered at: ttps://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/1011654.

Pushcart Players “A Cinderella Tale…happily ever after” at Tribeca PAC

Pushcart Players presents “A Cinderella Tale…happily ever after” at Tribeca Performing Arts Center, NYC on Friday and Saturday, November 2nd and 3rd.  Twice nominated for an Emmy©, Pushcart Players is the recipient of numerous state and private awards for excellence and innovation, and has traveled nearly three million miles nationally and abroad — from the little red schoolhouse to White House – stirring up serious fun since 1974.

“Happily Ever After” is the musical about Cinderella, a young woman whose kindness changes her dreary circumstances into remarkable fortune. A less-than-perfect stepfamily, magical transformations, a missing slipper, and a search by a prince for his true love illuminate the triumphant account.

Based on a legend first told more than a thousand years ago, the story is informed by the universal longing to overcome adversity. It’s about dreaming dreams, and about goodness, generosity, and compassion.

“It’s also about things that help us learn and grow,” said Ruth Fost, Pushcart co-founder and playwright / lyricist for the production. “We address the dark side of aggressive behavior, the importance of making good choices, and being responsible for those choices.  A moral of the story is that beauty can be treasured, but graciousness is priceless. Without it, nothing is possible; with it, one can do anything.”

The cast of “Happily Ever After” includes Stacie Gogo (Cinderella), Oise Ohiwerei (Prince), Nicole Colon (Stepmother / Godmother), and Melissa Cox (Griselda). Stacie Gogo is a graduate of Wilkes University with a B.A. in Musical Theatre and a Minor in Dance. Gogo appeared Off-Broadway as a Kit Kat Girl in “Cabaret” at the Players Theatre, as Penny Pingleton in “Hairspray” at the Westchester Broadway Theatre, in the ensemble of “Grease!” at the Surflight Theatre, and in national tours. Oise Ohiwerei was recently seen as a videographer at the New York Fringe Festival and in the short film ‘Solutions’ which was selected to be screened at the Chain NYC Film Festival.

Nicole Colon has performed in national tours of Legally Blonde” and Fiddler on the Roof,” and in New York productions of “My Big Gay Italian Wedding/Funeral” and “Queen Bees. Regionally, she has appeared in “West Side Story”, “Legally Blonde,” “Hairspray,” “High School Musical,” “All Shook Up,” “Les Misérables,” and “Showboat.” Melissa Cox is a master graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she studied Musical Theater as well. Cox performed the role of Beth in “Little Women” in Maplewood NJ and has been seen as Martha in “Spring Awakening” and Sister in “Damn Yankees.”

Music for “Happily Ever After” is by award-winning composer Larry Hochman and his daughter, Laurie Hochman. Producing artistic director Paul Whelihan directs the production. 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 was the orchestrator for the recent “Hello, Dolly!” revival starring Bette Midler, and 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.”

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, Premier Stages, Dreamcatcher Rep) in musicals, dramas, original works and locally produced television, film and web series projects.

Tribeca Performing Arts Center is lower Manhattan’s longest operating performance venue dedicated to identifying, supporting, and presenting established and emerging artists in a variety of disciplines. Tribeca PAC offers a broad global perspective through high quality theater, music, dance, film and visual art that celebrates diversity, inspires creativity and instills social awareness. Tribeca PAC is located at 199 Chambers Street, New York, NY 10007. Performances of “A Cinderella Tale…happily ever after” are on November 2 at 10:15 am and 12:00 noon, and November 3 at 11:00 am. Tickets can be reserved by calling 212-220-1460 or visit the website: www.tribecapac.org.

For further information on this or any of Pushcart’s programs and services, contact Pushcart Players at 973-857-1115 or visit the website at www.pushcartplayers.org.