A Band of Angels (2015)

A Band of Angels won Best Family Musical!

We received exciting news this week! Our Spring show, A Band of Angels, won the 2015 Off Broadway Alliance Award for Best Family Musical (Read the full press release here)!

The Off Broadway Alliance is a non-profit corporation organized by theater professionals dedicated to supporting, promoting and encouraging the production of Off Broadway theater and to making live theater increasingly accessible to new and diverse audiences. For more information on The Off Broadway Alliance visit: www.OffBroadwayAlliance.com

The production, which closed on May 17th, celebrates the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a choir still in operation today that was founded shortly after the Civil War at one of the first schools for freed slaves and follows Ella, a pop-culture obsessed teenager living in the present day who is transported back in time to meet the Jubilee Singers and gain a new appreciation for history and education.

The show was written by Myla Churchill, directed by Colman Domingo and starred Bryson Bruce, Denielle Marie Gray, Cynthia Nesbit, Sam Ray, La’Nette Wallace and Sekou Luke.

– Nicole

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The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess is a great adventure!

Opening Weekend of The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess

This past Saturday and Sunday marked the opening weekend of The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess!

Although opening weekends are always jam packed with excitement, this one felt particularly electric. We had packed houses for each performance, Laurie, Barbara and director Marty Johnson were all in attendance, and all the kids loved it! They came out of the theater beaming, discussing their favorite characters and scenes and waited anxiously to take pictures with Harvey, Princess Mindy, Bert and Gert.

The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess is the second collaboration between our Artistic Director and Founder, Barbara Zinn Krieger and kid-music superstar, Laurie Berkner. The show tells the story of Harvey, an amazing kid who doesn’t need much to be happy – just his family and his imagination. When he accidentally gets shipped to Pink Mountain Island (in an imaginary box!), he meets a Princess whose royal family needs a lesson in fun and togetherness.

Filled with catchy new songs from children’s music star Laurie Berkner and featuring one of her all time hits (we’re not going to spoil the surprise here!), The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess will delight 3-8 year olds and their parents too!

Laurie and Barbara’s first collaboration came in 2013 when the pair created Wanda’s Monster! Based on the book by Eileen Spinelli, the show told the story of Wanda, a spunky 5 year old with a vivid imagination, is convinced there’s a monster in her closet. Granny agrees, and contrary to Wanda’s expectations, convinces Wanda that “Monster” is in her closet because he is shy and friendless, not because he’s scary. With Granny’s encouragement, Wanda befriends “Monster,” turning a potentially fearful situation into a lesson in acceptance and friendship.

We’re so excited that the show is officially open!

– Nicole

PS: The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess soundtrack is now available on iTunes!


Barbara Zinn Krieger and Emma Halpern

Making Books Sing is now New York City Children’s Theater!

On Oct. 21st, 2014, Making Books Sing changed its name to New York City Children’s Theater. Since our beginnings at the Vineyard Theatre in 1996, we’ve grown as a company in every imaginable way.

The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess

Simplicity on Stage

Three weeks ago, I watched Fly by Night at Playwrights Horizons: A musical written by Kim Rosenstock, Will Connolly and  Michael Mitnick. The show was very well conceived, written, designed and directed. However, a couple of design related instances in the show got me thinking about the use special effects and technical elements in theatre.

1) The beginning: The conspicuously empty space center-stage, amidst a very elaborate set, told me that it was going to be used for some gimmick; and it was. Almost at the outset the band ascended from below, and remained there for the entirety of the show. Did they need to spend all that time and effort engineering the ascent, or would the audience have been just as pleased with the show had the band walked on stage and taken their places?

2) The great reveal: The sub-plots in the show were building up to the blackout of 1965, and when we reached that moment in the story line, hundreds of tiny lamps, carefully woven into the hard and soft black masking, lit up around the theatre. These were the stars that New Yorkers (then and today) fail to see, because of the permanent smog of diffused artificial light. The gimmick was (presumably) very cheap; yet very effective.

I compare these two instances because I am very interested in the line between creativity that makes dramaturgical sense, and creativity just because it is doable or because the budget allows it. Simplicity is important, not just to ensure we don’t waste our resources, but because we should trust our audience to imagine, and to complete the image we represent on stage. We owe them that. As we at Making Books Sing begin work on our next production, The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess, that line becomes all important, because Harvey teaches us that all we need to be creative is our imagination…

– Jit

Special Needs NYCCT theater program

NYC Children’s Theater & Students with Special Needs

NYC Children’s Theater Education Department is proud to partner with schools in District 75, the Special Education District within the New York City Department of Education. Our arts programs for students with disabilities support language and social development with a focus on emotional literacy. This blog post chronicles NYC Children’s Theater Education Associate Sara Hunter Orr’s recent site visit to a District 75 school in Queens. NYCCT teaching artist Matt Mazur is currently leading a Literature at Play residency there for students with autism and other developmental disabilities. Read more

Literature at Play Sharing Day

Brooke Boertzel on Giving Kids Permission to Dream

I remember babysitting a young boy and his sister when I was in college. We were on a walk and we spotted a nest with a colony of thousands of ants. They sped up and down their small domed hill, weaving in and out of one another with carefully choreographed precision.

The young boy seemed unimpressed by our discovery, but his sister was quite fascinated. She asked me what the ants were doing and I told her that they were practicing a new dance, which they were all going to perform at their annual colony barbeque. Her eyes widened with interest and she bent down to get a closer look at the dance practice. Her brother, on the other hand, thought my answer was ludicrous.

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Dear Albert Einstein

Nicole on DEAR ALBERT EINSTEIN and Her Own School Experiences

I recently had the chance to read through Russ Kaplan and Sara Wordsworth’s excellent Dear Albert Einstein script. I loved the story and flew through the pages. Then I immediately found myself recollecting my own school memories and relating to Susan.

Dear Albert Einstein tells Susan’s story. She is a 12-year-old math ‘nerd’ who upon entering middle school decides she wants to leave that behind in favor of trying to fit in with the popular girls. Luckily, she conjures up her idol, Albert Einstein, in her imagination and he helps her find her way. What follows is a touching, smart and funny story of self-discovery.

10 years ago I was a high school introvert, wanting to go about my days without being noticed while also wanting to make friends and have the social life I thought high school students should have – a major conundrum. It struck me while reading Mr. Kaplan and Ms. Wordsworth’s words, how after all the time that has passed, I still found myself relating to Susan’s journey.

There is so much pressure to look and act a certain way, especially by your peers and especially in that middle-to-high school age bracket, which is why it is so important to have a passion and to nurture it. For Susan it’s math; for me it was days spent in the back of the library writing; creating characters and worlds that were all my own. And it was my love of writing that allowed me to stay true to myself, not concern myself with what others thought and eventually did find me those friends I thought I should have.

Like Susan, we all leave school having gone on a journey that ends with a better understanding of self. Although it’s probably more fun to have Einstein pop up when you least expect him!

How did your middle and high school experiences help shape you?


Alices Story NYCCT Anti-Bullying Program

NYCCT Education Director Brooke Boertzel Talks Bullying

As the Director of Education at New York City Children’s Theater, I have the task of creating age-appropriate curricula for both elementary and middle school students. In creating these programs, I’ve had to pay close attention to the developmental difference between the ages of these children so that I could address relevant and interesting topics that appealed to these specific ages, and respect (yet challenge) the inhibiting social/personal barriers that develop and strengthen with age. Read more

Wanda's Monster

Audience Member Expectations

With Wanda’s Monster opening this Friday, I’ve got audiences on my mind. What is a good audience member? Is it only someone who is willing to pay the ticket price? Or is it more than that—is it someone who laughs and responds and listens at all the right moments the creative team wants them to?

(It’s a lovely, lovely pipedream to think that we can control our audiences.)

For the last few shows I’ve been a part of at NYC Children’s Theater, we’ve had pretty diverse audiences, from little ones to grandparents. In general, they’ve all been engaged, responsive audiences, leaving us very little to complain about.

Wanda’s Monster, unlike The Butterfly or Louis Armstrong: Jazz Ambassador, is aimed at a very young audience, 4 to 8 year olds (Even though I know we will have some babes in arms). The expectation from our audience is completely different. We’ll be doing well if the little tykes dance and bounce and clap in the aisles.

What kind of expectations do you have of your audiences, if any? Do you think it’s best to prepare your audiences, or do you just roll the dice and let them respond and behave naturally?

Wanda’s Monster tells the story of Wanda, a spunky 5 year old with a vivid imagination, is convinced there’s a monster in her closet. Granny agrees, and contrary to Wanda’s expectations, convinces Wanda that “Monster” is in her closet because he is shy and friendless, not because he’s scary. With Granny’s encouragement, Wanda befriends “Monster,” turning a potentially fearful situation into a lesson in acceptance and friendship.

Filled with catchy new songs from children’s music star Laurie Berkner and featuring “Monster Boogie,” one of her all time hits, Wanda’s Monster will delight 4-8 year olds and their parents too!

NOTE: Laurie Berkner will NOT be performing in Wanda’s Monster, but we hope you enjoy her new songs!

Alices Story NYCCT Anti-Bullying Program

We’re so Excited we Won the Activating Empathy Competition!!

New York City Children’s Theater is a WINNER of the Townsend Press Prize through Donors Choose in the Ashoka Changemakers Activating Empathy Competition!

$5,000 will go towards bringing our anti-bullying program, Alice’s Story, to PS 144 in Queens.

Prizes went to the top five solutions submitted by a U.S. public-school teacher, student, or administrator to advance the mastery of empathy in a way that addresses bullying.

Read more about other Activating Empathy prize winners to see what schools and organizations all over the country are doing to combat bullying.

Promoting empathy and teaching emotional literacy are central to the mission of New York City Children’s Theater, and we are thrilled to get this kind of encouragement from organizations that share our values. Thank you Ashoka Changemakers, Donors Choose and Townsend Press!

Alice’s Story is an interactive theater performance and workshop designed to help 1st to 3rd grade students understand and deal with bullying. This show has been performed in over 200 schools to thousands of students. Two actor-educators visit a classroom and facilitate a 45-minute drama exploring the serious issue of bullying. The workshop includes moments of scripted performance, guided discussion and improvisation.

Alice’s Story has three goals:
•To create safe learning environments for all students
•To cultivate communities of respect and inclusion
•To empower students to be agents of positive change

When Deanna spreads a mean rumor about Alice at school, Alice is crushed. Will she learn how to safely deal with bullies, and will Maria, a classmate who witnesses the bullying, come to Alice’s defense? Throughout this interactive drama and workshop, students will explore the themes of empathy, kindness, and community building.