A new partnership between Union and Proctors gives students a chance to gain experience on the professional stage while providing the venerable historic theater with a pool of local actors.
“It’s a new link between us,” says Andrew Mannion, lecturer in scenic design. “Proctors is putting on a professional children’s theater piece and co-producing it with Union talent.”
The Proctors enterprise is called the PB&J Café, and the inaugural show is “Stuart Little,” the classic children’s tale by E.B. White about a mild-mannered mouse born into an ordinary New York family and trying to survive in a human world.
The show will be performed at Proctor’s GE Theatre, Friday, March 29 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 30 at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
The acting ensemble includes Matthew Dulchinos ’20, Etienne-Marcel Giannelli ’20, John Jiang ’21, Sophie Hurwitz ’21 and Mia Villeneuve ’22. They play an assortment of human and animal roles in a series of scenes.
Jay Isaacs ’19 is the stage manager, and properties are by Juliet Park ’21.
Mannion designed the sets, and costumes are by lecturer/costumer Brittney Belz.
The Union involvement comes as part of ATH-370, a course that gives students a chance to pursue a specific area of theatrical interest, from performance to management, in a one-term internship with a professional theater or dance company.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to work in a professional theatrical setting as an undergraduate, especially as someone who is preparing to try to work in theater in the real world,” said Isaacs.
For his part, Jiang is interested in using his creative skills to help children get immersed in the joy of the stage.
“If I want the kids to have a good time, then I myself as an actor must have a good time, as well,” he said. “To me, this production is all about seizing opportunities that can make the show more fun.”
The project was conceived by Proctors Youth Program Director Steven Yuhasz and CEO Philip Morris to enliven the theater experience for young audiences. Those who attend the PB&J Café will have a chance to participate in an art activity, dine during the live musical theater performance and even collect autographs from their favorite actors.
“Stuart Little” was adapted for stage by Joseph Robinette, who vividly dramatizes the endearing mouse’s many adventures. The show’s director is Aaron Marquise, who studied and performed theater locally before embarking on a career in the circus world. He is currently the arts education manager at the School of the Performing Arts at Proctors and the REP in Albany.
Tickets for the production are available at Proctors Box Office.