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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 Claire Early, who was born and raised in Manhattan.

Who inspires you? Third-Year Usher Claire Early
My family inspires me! They are constantly showing me who I am and supporting me through every project I dive into.

What was your favorite story as a kid?
I really liked The Powerpuff Girls—everything I owned had them on it. They let me know it was okay for girls to be tough, smart and girly. Those are all things I wanted to be, and like to think I am now.

What's your favorite subject in school?
Art, because I'm an artist. It's in my blood!

How would you describe your personal style?
Honestly, my style changes with the seasons and my mood. I live like my life is an art piece.

What's your favorite song right now?
"Hold Me Down" by Halsey

What's your favorite place to eat or grab food near the theater?
I usually like to get Hale and Hearty. They have yummy soups!

What's your favorite thing to do when you're not at work?
I try to occupy my time with drawing and other personal projects.

What's your favorite NYC hangout or neighborhood?
I'm in Central Park all year-round.

What's the most challenging thing about being an usher?
Multitasking!

What would be your dream vacation?
A week away in a beach house with a bunch of my closest friends and a lot of junk food and board games.

What's your dream job?
My dream job would be to be a comic illustrator and writer. Comics and graphic novels have always been a consistent comfort in my life, and I would like to create that for others. 
 

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 Claire in October, she has decided to spend her Third-Year focus by applying her love of illustrating to some of our online materials! Keep an eye out for her name and signature style.
Posted by Zack Ramadan

As we celebrate The New Victory's twentieth birthday this season, we're highlighting some of the families who have been a part of our greater New Vic family for many years. For these parents and kids, seeing theatrical performances at the New Vic has become a tradition, and over the years they've shared their love of theater with their extended family and friends.

This week, we turn the spotlight on the Sacco family. Dennis and Mayra Sacco, along with their kids, Michael Sacco and DeAnna Adonnino, have seen close to 60 shows here since 1996. Mayra attended the New Vic first with DeAnna during our second season, and she still counts that show among her most memorable theatergoing experiences. "It was the first show that I exposed my daughter to—she was about two and a half at the time," Mayra recalls. "I remember her jumping up and down on the seat, and you couldn't hold her back. She was just so enthralled by the experience." 

The Sacco Family, photographed in 2000. From left to right, Michael, DeAnna, Mayra and Dennis.
The Sacco Family, photographed in 2000. From left to right:
Michael, DeAnna, Mayra and Dennis.

 
"We have very special, fond memories of this place, there's no doubt about it," adds Dennis, who appreciates the impact the New Vic has had on their family. "I think it's so important that the kids came to the theater at a young age. Sometimes you don't know the impact that something will have until later on." Even though Michael and DeAnna are grown, their love of theater is as strong as ever, and they haven't left The New Victory behind. "They've come back individually. They've attended with their spouses, with their friends. Michael is in Florida now," explains Dennis, "and every weekend he goes to a live show of some sort."

"Our kids love to go to the theater, period," agrees Mayra. "And I think it's a result of having had the experience of seeing theater here at a young age." She's speaking from experience; Mayra traces her own love of theater back to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which she saw with childhood friends when she was just eight years old. "None of us had gone to the theater before—it was the first time for all of us. I just remember being mesmerized by it. I think my mouth was probably open the whole time."
 
Dennis's favorite comedian, Avner the Eccentric, as he appeared in our 1996-97 season brochure.
The comedic star of Dennis's favorite show, Avner the Eccentric, as he appeared in our 1996-97 season brochure.

 
Soledad Barrio of Noche Flamenca, who has performed at the New Vic in 2002, 2009 and during Victory Dance in 2014.
Mayra recalls her aunts' enthusiasm for the dancers of Noche Flamenca, who performed at the New Vic in 2002, 2009 and during Victory Dance in 2014.

Dennis had a very different experience growing up. "My mother and father enjoyed going to the theater, but never took the four kids!" As a result, his love of theater started a bit later, in his early twenties with the first of many Broadway shows. "There's nothing like a live show, and there's something very special about seeing it in New York." His first show at the New Vic, in 1997, was Avner the Eccentric, a show he still recalls with fondness. "Anytime we see a clown or magic show, we're reminded of Avner from twenty years ago!" This is a theme with the Saccos—live theater fostering stronger, more lasting memories. Of New Victory performances in particular, Dennis explains that the family "would talk about them six months later, one year later, twenty years later in a positive light."

"Going to theater as a family, there's nothing better than seeing a particular show and then being able to talk about it," adds Mayra. Even without their kids, she and Dennis still look forward to the New Victory season brochure arriving in the mail, and to the theatrical variety that they've come to expect. "There aren't many theaters where you can go and see a circus act, a drama, a musical." Over other forms of entertainment, Mayra likens live theater to an immersive, mind-body experience. "If it's a circus act, I'm at the edge of my seat. If it's drama, it's like reading a book. If it's music, I'm feeling the music." And this love of live performance runs in her family.

Mayra's parents and aunts are Cuban immigrants, and they've accompanied Mayra and Dennis to many shows over the years. "The arts were very important to them growing up. I think they lost that, unfortunately, when they came to this country," explains Mayra, "but The New Victory put it back within their reach."

"Any show that I ever attended with your parents that was of a musical variety, their feet or their hands were going," Dennis says to her, tapping a rhythm on his lap. And the Saccos look forward to continuing their theatergoing tradition. "It's gone from Mayra's parents coming along with us, to her aunts, to my daughter in-law, expanding, expanding, expanding beyond just the four of us, to the ten of us, to the twelve of us. I'm guessing that if we're blessed with grandchildren, they'll carry on that tradition." With big smiles at the thought, they agree: "We can't wait!"

For the Saccos, sharing their love of theater doesn't end with family and friends. Every year, Mayra and Dennis make a point of donating a set of New Victory tickets to charity during the holidays. They see the sharing of theatrical experiences as an extension of the New Vic's mission. "I think a lot of people view the theater as being out of reach when it may not necessarily be," says Dennis. "I think that's what the New Vic does. It makes it really within reach."

Where did your #LoveOfTheater start? Let us know on Twitter @newvictory, or snap a selfie for Instagram and tag us @newvictorytheater the next time you're here!
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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