The New York City Children’s Theater’s production of The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess is a treat for music and theater-loving families.
[As] the main characters, Laura Hankin and Ben Laxton, engaged young children while bringing a lovely story to life.
Sarah Charles and Liam Fennecken seamlessly morphed into multiple characters, bridging the best parts of the story with imagination and grace.
I appreciate that this is a preschooler-friendly production that keeps even the littlest theater-goer engaged.
New York City Children’s Theater is well known for making books sing, and Barbara Zinn Krieger did just that with this production. Laurie Berkner wrote the songs and lyrics, which made this production fantastic and fun.
— Jen Rabulan-Bertram, Next Kid Thing on The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess
In this season of holiday excess, Harvey serves as a refreshing reminder that exhilarating fun can be created from the simplest of ingredients: thin air.
What’s most rewarding, however, is the way the show draws young theatergoers with the power of pretending.
That the music and lyrics are by Laurie Berkner contributes to the appeal of the production. Ms. Berkner’s work here ranges from sweet, folk-inflected ballads to a semi-snarled rap for the petulant princess.
New York City Children’s Theater, formerly Making Books Sing, has adapted Loryn Brantz’s “Harvey the Child Mime” into its latest musical…Fortunately, this company can still make a book sing.
— Laurel Graeber, The New York Times on 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!
PS: The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess soundtrack is now available on iTunes!
Let me tell ya… Barbara Zinn Krieger and Laurie Berkner have done it again!
Not only is the show cute, but the actors are engaging and there are parts of the show that are interactive with the audience.
In this day and age that’s filled with stuff and things and gifts and prizes… and more gifts and more things, it’s refreshing to see a show that emphasizes the importance of just… being.
— Alicia Harper, Mommy Delicious on The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess
The book by Artistic Director Barbara Zinn Krieger is full of imagination and I was thrilled that the story sends a positive message to kids and parents: “spend time together.”
The princess, portrayed by Laura Hankin, is simply adorable.
Sometimes simplicity is all you need to get the point across. We left the theater uplifted by the positive energy
I loved the fun, upbeat music by the popular Laurie Berkner
— Maytal Wichman, The Mama Maven on The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess
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.
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…
What Program Do You Teach for NYCCT?
I teach Literature at Play for NYC Children’s Theater. I also perform in My City Park and sometimes If You Really Love Polar Bears. I feel lucky to be involved in so many programs within the education department! I have been an NYCCT TA since 2011 and have taught or performed in every single borough of New York City….and New Jersey!
What is Your Most Memorable Teaching Moment?
There are so many memorable, funny, and inspiring moments from NYCCT residencies and performances over the past several years. Most recently, I taught a Literature at Play musical theatre residency in Queens and the students just did such an amazing job, especially with their song. They committed to everything 100% and the pride they had in their work really shone through. It was a joy to watch them celebrate their creativity.
Are There Any Non-NYCCT Projects You Can Share with Us?
I have a solo show of original songs going up July 17th* at Dixon Place! I perform very frequently and you can always check out upcoming shows on my website at www.melissasgordon.com
More About Melissa
Melissa Gordon is an actor, writer, musician and comedian who is proud to call New York her home. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Drama from Ithaca College and has also studied at the National Theatre Institute, Upright Citizens Brigade, The Groundlings and Magnet Theater. Melissa has performed with the Manhattan Children’s Theatre, Traveling Lantern Theatre Company and most recently worked with New York City Children’s Theater in a production of If You Really Loved Polar Bears… at the Bronx Zoo. Melissa performs regularly at the Magnet Theater with her musical improv team Mint Condition and is also a member of the Story Pirates. Melissa feels very lucky and extremely proud to work and perform with so many wonderful people.
*The show at Dixon Place has now passed but visit Melissa’s website for more upcoming performances!
At a recent event I attended for the NYC Arts and Education Roundtable, John Patrick Shanely, the guest of honor, gave an extremely inspiring speech about self-discovery. I’m paraphrasing, but the crux of his story centered around the idea that we are all born as fully-formed individuals, complete with likes, dislikes, passions, opinions, desires and fears….only we don’t know what they are yet because, as babies, we haven’t experienced anything. As we grow up, our exposure to the world, people, places and activities slowly reveal our preferences and we learn that we’re innately drawn to certain situations and repulsed by others.
His point was that these experiences are not cultivating our opinions or preferences in the moment, but rather they are unlocking predetermined aspects of our personalities that were imprinted on our souls long before we were born. The more exposure we have to different experiences, the more we get to know ourselves. However, if we are not exposed to these experiences, these talents and passions remain locked. Shanley credited his successful career as a playwright to a chance encounter he had in his high school’s theatre. He never knew he had a talent for writing until it was revealed to him through this experience. When children are only exposed to a limited number of ideas and subjects, at home and at school, they miss out on valuable opportunities to discover and unlock their hidden talents and passions that live inside them.
The arts, in all mediums, provide children with an opportunity to experiment and play in order to find the perfect fit. One might gravitate to the violin, another to the theatre, a third might create new worlds with a paint brush, and a fourth might realize they prefer math and science…all are wonderful discoveries, but they will only occur if children have access to all of these experiences. Mayor de Blasio, Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced that New York City will spend an unprecedented $23 million in additional arts funding for New York City schools. This is encouraging news for NYC Children’s Theater, and all of the other arts professionals and cultural organizations in the city because it means we will be able to continue our contribution to providing the children of NYC with a well-rounded education which can only result in creating a new generation of well-rounded individuals.
Dear Albert Einstein strikes the right balance between seriousness and fun
The danger in sacrificing your ideals for popularity isn’t a new theme, but the musical’s authors, Russ Kaplan and Sara Wordsworth, make it feel fresh.
Dear Albert Einstein, a witty new musical for young audiences from New York City Children’s Theater
The young adult actors deserve praise, as does Mr. Kaplan’s rich score, which ranges from ’50s-style rock and jazz to a lilting waltz.
— Laurel Graeber, The New York Times on Dear Albert Einstein
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