Pushcart Players, New Jersey’s Emmy-nominated and award-winning touring theater for young audiences, has added a week of virtual performances of “Holiday Tales – A Season of Miracles” in online presentations through December 31. This magical musical warms the hearts of family audiences with the true holiday spirit of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and families can watch the production from the comfort of their own homes.
âThe added performances will give young learners during their winter break the opportunity to enjoy the production,â said Paul Whelihan, artistic director of production. âA favorite in our repertoire, ‘Miracles’ is traditionally reserved for this time of year with live performances in schools and theaters across the region. This not being an option this season, we are grateful to to still be able to bring something magical to our families in this new platform. “
“… A season of miracles” visit “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry; an original scene set in Africa entitled “The Kwanzaa Kite”; a story based on the sages of Chelm folklore called “The Miracle of Hanukkah”; and “The Nutcracker” by ETA Hoffmann. Each tale reflects the spirit of the holidays and the people who celebrate them. Music and orchestrations are by Tony Award-winning composer Larry Hochman, book and lyrics are by Pushcart co-founder Ruth Fost, and conductor is Whelihan.
Ruth Fost is a playwright, designer, actress and arts advocate, with a special focus on the arts in education. Fost has appeared in over fifty lead roles in major productions ranging from Simon (Neil) to Shakespeare to Shaw. She has written 30 children’s musical pieces, has performed nationwide and abroad, and recently published a children’s book to accompany Pushcart’s production “Alice in Wonderland”.
Larry Hochman has had a career as a composer and orchestrator for more than 40 years, spanning theater, film, recordings, concerts, television and video games. Best known for his theater work, Larry has orchestrated over a hundred musicals. He has 18 Broadway shows to his name and has won the Tony Award (âThe Book of Mormonâ), two Drama Desk Awards and the Outer Critics Circle Award (âHello, Dolly!â). It received 9 Tony Award nominations and 9 Emmy nominations.
Paul Whelihan directs, directs and performs off Broadway (47th Street Theater, 59 East 59 Theaters, NY Fringe Festival, 54 Below) and regionally (Royal Poincianna Playhouse, Broward Center for the Arts, Centenary Stage, The Bickford Theater, The Growing Stage, Luna Stage, Forum Cultural Arts Center, Quillo Arts Center, Premier Stages, Dreamcatcher Rep) in musicals, dramas and original works. He has appeared in locally produced television, film and web series projects.
âHoliday Tales – A Season of Miraclesâ features Oscar Castillo, Stacie Gogo, Dana Patrice and Danny Sims, all playing a myriad of characters to inform the stories.
Castillo, originally from New York, graduated from Kean University with a BA in theater. He is a founding member of The Theater Project. For the past 18 years, Oscar has been a member of Pushcart Players and has performed for young audiences across the United States. Oscar also performs throughout New York City with Peculiar Works Productions.
Stacie Gogo graduated from Wilkes University with a BA in Musical Theater and a Minor in Dance. Gogo appeared off Broadway as Kit Kat Girl in “Cabaret” at the Players Theater, as Penny Pingleton in “Hairspray” at the Westchester Broadway Theater, on the set of “Grease!” at the Surflight Theater and on international tours.
Dana Patrice performed at the Lighthouse Opera of NJ’s production of “Ragtime” at South Orange PAC. She was featured on the CDC Theater stage in “Vagina Monologues” and “Once Upon a Mattress”. She has appeared on “Expiration Date” at The Tank in New York City for the Wet Paint Festival, OLT’s “Side Show, The Musical” and “Aida”.
Danny Sims is a New Jersey-based actor and creative artist. It made its debut at local theaters in central NJ such as The Forum, Cranford Dramatic Club and countless Plays in the Park (Edison) productions. He studied musical theater at Montclair State University and sang with The Encore Orchestra of NJ, and recently conducted “The Shape of Things” with Third Revelation Theater Co.
Pushcart Players is the award-winning professional touring theater company specializing in arts education for children. Nominated twice for an Emmy Â©, Pushcart is the recipient of numerous public and private awards for excellence and innovation. A social purpose organization founded in 1974, Pushcart offers substantial musical theater, workshops and residences to young people and their families in schools and theaters across the country. The company has traveled more than 6.5 million kilometers nationally and internationally, from the rural Red School to the nation’s White House.
Pushcart Players addresses social studies, literature, history, the autism spectrum, special educational needs, socio-emotional learning, equity, diversity and inclusion, and value clarification for young people, their families and their educators. All performances by professional artists (Actors’ Equity Association) are supported by study guides, post-performance reviews and other additional material, and adapt to any location with set systems, innovative lighting and sound.
“Holiday Tales – A Season of Miracles” will be played virtually from December 26th to 31st (Sunday to Friday) at 1:00 pm. Reservations for a family pass are $ 25 and can be ordered by visiting https://pushcartplayers.org/season-of-miracles/ or by calling Pushcart at 973-857-1115. Patrons will receive a protected link and password to access the show at the time of the performance.
For more information on this or any other Pushcart Players program, visit www.pushcartplayers.org or send an email to [email protected]
PHOTO CREDIT: Richard Kowalski