Pushcart Players Receive Montclair Foundation Grant

Pushcart Players, New Jersey’s Emmy nominated and award winning touring theater for young audiences has received a generous grant from The Montclair Foundation to support performances of their latest productions and in-school theater education programs in and around Montclair, NJ.

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 2 million miles nationally and abroad, from the little red schoolhouse to the White House. This dynamic company receives numerous state and private awards for excellence and innovation. A cast of professional Actors’ Equity Association performers and stage managers tour productions with complete scenery, lighting, and sound systems, making every performance adaptable to any location.

The Montclair Foundation is a nonprofit that awards grants to charitable organizations in the greater Montclair area. With giving in the areas of Family and Social Services, Community, and Arts and Education, The Foundation has supported more than seventy community organizations since its inception in 1979. Equally important is the Foundation’s strong commitment to the historic preservation of Montclair’s Van Vleck House and Gardens for the education, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment of the region.

“The Foundation’s grant program is intended to support a broad range of activities that contribute to the quality of life in Montclair and its environs,” said Tina Jordan, Grants Chair. “We are delighted to be a part of the important work Pushcart does in our community.”

“Montclair Foundation’s generosity is a terrific endorsement that we truly appreciate,” said Paul Whelihan, Pushcart’s producing artistic director. “Social profit organizations like Pushcart rely on support from the enlightened foundation, government, and corporate sectors. It is through their involvement that we are able to reach out to facilities whose young people could not otherwise benefit from our programming.”

Pushcart Players will be bringing six different productions to schools and theaters throughout 2018:

New to Pushcart’s repertoire is “The Velveteen Rabbit” (book by Paul Whelihan, music & lyrics by Paul Farinella, orchestrations by Larry Hochman). A young boy’s love and a little nursery magic help transform the Velveteen Rabbit from a favorite plaything into a real rabbit. Boy and Velveteen embark on exciting imaginary adventures, from deep dark caves to the wide open sea, and together they learn the true meaning of friendship in this musical re-telling of one of America’s favorite storybooks.

“Ellis Island: Gateway to America” takes a loving look at a small group of immigrants. They came to America in the early 1900’s, seeking freedom, opportunity and a better life for themselves, their children, and their children’s children. A combination of original and traditional American music, the play explores the ordinary people and extraordinary events in the nation’s history through the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s.

“Stone Soup and Other Stories” features 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; the production provides a springboard for reading and subsequent literacy-related activities.

In “Peter and the Wolf,” Pushcart puts its’ trademark spin on a beloved Eastern European folk tale. Classical music, story-telling, puppetry, and the ageless adventure of growing up comprise this masterpiece. Set to the resplendent music by composer Sergei Prokofiev, each character is represented by a different musical motif in this story of a spirited young boy who confronts the dangers of the forest with courage, creativity, and leadership.

“The Last…Butterfly” is a touching, informative and provocative multi-media play with music, based on the poems, drawings, and experiences of children of the Holocaust. While dealing with a particular episode in history, the production brings relevance to current human rights issues. Pushcart celebrates the twentieth year of presenting this exceptional theater experience.

“A Cinderella Tale…happily ever after” is Pushcart’s whimsical comic version of the well-known fairy tale. The story’s origins are informed by the universal longing to overcome adversity. Certainly it speaks to everyone who has a vision or a dream yet to be fulfilled, with central themes of goodness, generosity, and compassion.

offers sensory friendly performances of all our productions,” said Whelihan, “wherein the plays are adapted to be accessible to children on the Autism spectrum and with other cognitive disabilities.” In adapting the performance, music is kept at a consistent level, avoiding any sudden or jarring bursts of sound. Audience space remains well-lit and adjustments are made to script and prop use to avoid innuendo and complicated mime.

Pushcart has a substantive 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.

For further information on this or any of Pushcart’s programs and services visit

www.pushcartplayers.org.

PHOTO: Pushcart Players in “VELVETEEN RABBIT”

PHOTO BY: Gerry Goodstein