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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York’s theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we’re passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

The New Victory Theater launched the New Victory Usher Corps the day the theater opened to provide paid employment, job training, academic support, mentorship and an introduction to the performing arts for over 50 young New Yorkers each year. Since then, the program has provided over 400,000 hours of paid employment to over 500 NYC teens from across the city. Find out how the young people in your life can apply to be a part of this award-winning program!

All season long, we'll be featuring young people from our Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory Blog. Today we’re talking to third-year usher Julean DeJesus from Brooklyn.

Third-Year Usher Julean DeJesusWhat was your favorite story as a kid?
Growing up, my favorite show was Digimon, which led me to Pokémon when I got older. I always loved fantasy and any break from reality.

Who inspires you?
Pikachu. Honestly! Statistically speaking, Pikachu is one of the weakest Pokémon, but it strives to overcome every obstacle and never gives up. I hope to be even a fraction as determined and motivated to succeed as Pikachu is!

How would you describe your personal style?
My style is best described as an Otaku Fairy: whimsical, repetitive, obsessive and 100% comprised of fan merchandise.

What's your favorite song right now?
My favorite song is "One of the Boys" by Katy Perry. It has been for as long as I can remember. It speaks to my desire to avoid being labeled.

What's your favorite place to eat or grab food near the theater?
I like to walk down to Canal Street to buy fruit, but there are a few fruit stands on 30th Street that I enjoy as well. Being on a raw food diet limits my options. I used to have unhealthy obsession with Crumbs cupcakes!

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not at work?
I like to make things. Anything—cooking, sewing, crafting, gardening—if it produces something new, I enjoy doing it. It's especially fun to cook for others. I love having a friend over to cook for and watch movies.

What's your favorite NYC hangout or neighborhood?
My favorite place in the entire city is the Manhattan Bridge. I'll walk to Chinatown and buy a pound of cherries. Nothing beats a stroll across the bridge on a warm day while eating cherries.

What's the most challenging thing about being an usher?
Confidence. It's very hard to reassure myself that I am just doing my job when I need to enforce rules or give instructions to patrons. I don't want to seem pushy.

What would be your dream vacation?
I am not a big fan of travel. I don't need to go far, nor to a specific place. I just dream of venturing into nature, hiding out deep in the forest. But for now the concrete jungle should suffice.
 

Each of our Third-Year Ushers gets to spend 40 hours working on a special project—a Third-Year focus—in the department of their choice at The New 42nd Street. Since we interviewed Julean in October, he has decided to spend his Third-Year focus working in our Education Department with the Public Engagement team, helping to brainstorm and build pre-show activities. If you see him before a show, let him know what you think!
Posted by Zack Ramadan
February 11, 2016

Inside Untapped!

It's summertime in Australia right now, but the dancers and musicians of Untapped! have braved the chilly New York winter to bring their raucous rhythms to the New Victory stage. With a beatboxer, live music and five tap dancers, they have a lot of fun onstage—here's a sneak peek!


The show's director, Andrew Fee, performed on our stage when Untapped! came to the New Vic in 2011. This year, Andrew's co-choreographer, Jack Chambers, taps onstage as dance captain (in gold tap shoes, no less). Winner of season one of Australia's So You Think You Can Dance, Jack is something of a celebrity back home, and it's easy to see why. Now that he and his fellow dancers have settled in, we checked in with him to find out a little more about him, his role as co-choreographer and the show.

How did you become involved in Untapped!?
My involvement began way back in 2006, which is the year Untapped! was first created (it was titled something else at that time). I co-created the show with Andrew Fee and also performed in the original cast of five male tappers.

You and Andrew are co-choreographers. In what ways do you collaborate? 
We bounce ideas off of each other first and start a dialogue about what it is we want to achieve. The next step is sitting down with our music team and creating tracks for the show. Then we allocate sections for each other to choreograph, and some sections we do together.

What's your favorite part of developing a new number? 
My favorite part of developing a new number is the musical creation. I am a very musical person, so I am all about musicality, and making sure there are enough accents and intricacies to play with choreographically.
Untapped! ensemble
Jack Chambers is joined onstage by the Untapped! ensemble during their "Tribal Beats" number. From left to right: Sally Hare, Ginner Whitcombe, Jack Chambers, Kieran Heilbronn, Brianna Taylor.


What makes the Untapped! ensemble special?
The special thing about our ensemble is that we all have very different performance styles. We all blend really well together onstage, but remain individual in the way that we dance and perform. It's important to have diversity and light and shade through the show, not just in the choreography but within the cast and performances. 

What about Untapped! are you most proud of?
There are many reasons to be proud of this show, but one reason in particular, for me, is that the show has managed to be performed all over the world since 2006. It's truly satisfying to see audiences still loving this production. I am also proud of how the show has evolved over those years, with the changes of cast and the changes of choreography. 

What's been your favorite thing about performing at The New Victory?
Firstly, its a beautiful theater, with lovely staff and crew! And secondly, the audiences have been just wonderful. The kids and families that have come to see the show have truly made this experience memorable. 

What's your favorite place to go or thing to do in New York?
Central Park is my favorite spot in NYC. It's a wonderful place to get lost and take a break from the hustle and bustle of this spectacularly big, busy city! 

Why do you dance?
To put it simply, because I LOVE IT! I have done it my whole life. It's what comes naturally to me, and it makes me happy! 

Why should I see Untapped!?
Untapped! is a must-see because of its exciting, funny, rhythmical energy flown in all the way from Australia. We all have an absolute blast on stage, and it happens to be quite contagious!
 
 
  Untapped! is playing at the New Vic through February 21st. We hope to see you there! And if you happen to see Jack or any of his fellow dancers before the show, be sure to wish them "big chookas"—Aussie slang for "break a leg."
Posted by Zack Ramadan
HANDA'S SURPRISE book cover
Read the original Handa's Surprise picture book, written and illustrated by Eileen Brown and published by Walker Books.

The story of Handa's Surprise features numerous animals, though if you were to ask Handa herself, she wouldn't know what you were talking about. As Handa walks between villages to deliver fruit to her friend, Akeyo, these furtive fruit-lovers sneak up on her and nab the fruit piece by piece! By the time she arrives—well, let's not spoil the surprise.

In Little Angel Theatre's adaptation of Handa's Surprise, the many animals come to life through the delightful magic of puppetry. These puppets come in many shapes, sizes and varieties, just like the fruit in Handa's basket! And despite their thieving ways, they're all quite charming once you get to know them.
 
 
Monkey – The monkey is a marionette: his head and arms are controlled by strings that attach to a handheld bar. Naturally curious and a born performer, not only will the monkey be happy to make your acquaintance—he'll also do a little dance for you! Like all monkeys he has a taste for bananas, so when Handa's not looking, he absconds with hers. Cheeky monkey.
 
Ostrich – The ostrich is a rod puppet: her long neck is supported by a handheld rod, and a trigger near the rod's handle operates her turned-up beak. Proud and territorial, she will not be all that pleased to meet you. What exactly are you doing here, anyway, disturbing her beauty sleep?! As for that sweet-smelling guava she makes off with, finders keepers.
 
Zebra – The zebra is brought to life by a simple sheet of fabric draped over the puppeteer's back, but she is no simple creature. Quite the contrary, she is one brazen and determined lady! One whiff of the orange in Handa's basket, and she commits herself to its theft—a juicy crime worth celebrating.
 
Elephant – The elephant has ears operated by one puppeteer and a long trunk operated by another. She stomps about, trumpeting a song to herself, and may tickle you with her trunk if you get too close! When she finds the mango in Handa's basket, red and perfectly ripe, it's chomping time.
 
Giraffe – The giraffe's long neck and head are manipulated by a handle behind her ears, and her spindly legs move up, down and side-to-side simply by pivoting a handle on her back. She's a graceful thing, though sometimes she has trouble standing up; and being so tall, she may find your appearance curious. Her curiosity also leads her to the pineapple in Handa's basket! Uh-oh.
 
Antelope – The antelope comes to life through a beautiful mask, but it's drumbeats that give him life! This antelope likes to dance, and he'll show you his moves before making off with Handa's avocado.
 
Parrot – The parrot is a funny guy. Half-corncob, half-shekere, all pride, this bird does not appreciate being teased! Smile at the shaking of his cornhusk tailfeathers, giggle at the rattly twitching of his gourd-shaped head; but stay low and don't cross him, unless you want to end up like that tiny, purple passionfruit.
 
 
  A few other animals appear in the show as well, but seeing as one of them takes part in the titular surprise, we're going to keep them a secret and let you meet them in person when you come to see the show. Handa's Surprise is playing at The New 42nd Street Studios through Sunday, February 21st. Come and meet the animals!
Posted by Zack Ramadan

The New Victory Theater launched the New Victory Usher Corps the day the theater opened to provide paid employment, job training, academic support, mentorship and an introduction to the performing arts for over 50 young New Yorkers each year. Since then, the program has provided over 400,000 hours of paid employment to over 500 NYC teens from across the city. Find out how the young people in your life can apply to be a part of this award-winning program!

All season long, we'll be featuring young people from our Usher Corps in our New Vic Bills and here on the New Victory Blog. Today we’re talking to third-year usher Greg Arrastia from Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

Third-Year Usher Greg ArrastiaWho inspires you?
My old football coach inspires me because, growing up, it was hard for him. He was messing up in school—in life—and got kicked out the house when he was seventeen. He was homeless for two years until he got his mind straight, finished high school and went to college. He's always pushing me and is always on me because he doesn't want me to waste my life. He's like another father to me.

What was your favorite story as a kid?
My favorite movie when I was little was Tarzan. I just love it!

What was your favorite subject in school? 
My favorite subject in school was math. I was just great at it, always ahead of everybody. I've loved it since middle school.

What's your favorite song right now?
My favorite song right now is "Back Up" by DeJ Loaf. 

What's your favorite place to eat or grab food near the theater?
My favorite place to go and eat near the New Vic is Popeyes. 

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not at work?
My favorite things to do when I'm not at work are playing basketball and working out.

What's your favorite NYC hangout or neighborhood?
My favorite place to hang out is probably in a park.

What's the most challenging thing about being an usher?
The most challenging thing about being an usher is probably adapting to all the new and different ushers and customers from all over the world.

What would be your dream vacation?
My dream vacation is to go to Hawaii.
 

Each of our Third-Year Ushers gets to spend 40 hours working on a special project—a Third-Year focus—in the department of their choice at The New 42nd Street. Greg has decided to spend his Third-Year focus putting his customer service skills to use in the New Victory Operations Department alongside Laura Hamilton, our Company Manager.
Posted by Zack Ramadan