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Pushcart Players to present "Lift Every Voice: A Letter to the Editor" at Paper Mill Playhouse

originally published: 02/01/2024

Pushcart Players to present "Lift Every Voice: A Letter to the Editor" at Paper Mill Playhouse

Pushcart Players cast of “Lift Every Voice: A Letter to the Editor” (Left to Right) Harriett Trangucci, Joshua Hendricks, Marlaina Powell. Photo by Thierry Donaus

(MILLBURN, NJ) -- Pushcart Players, New Jersey's Emmy-nominated and award-winning touring theatre for family audiences, will present "Lift Every Voice: A Letter to the Editor" on Friday, February 9, 2024 at Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ. Founded in 1974, Pushcart is celebrating 50 years of stirring up serious fun for young people nationwide.

“Lift Every Voice…” is a multimedia play by NJ playwright Tylie Shider that explores the music, images, and spirit of mid-century America while celebrating the courage and resilience of everyday Americans during events leading up to the Civil Rights Movement.

The story centers on Junebug, a 12-year-old boy in the 1960’s South, who learns of James Meredith’s attempt to enroll as the first African American at the University of Mississippi. When the editor of “The Oxford Eagle,” a local newspaper, expresses her negative opinions on integration, Junebug takes matters into his own hands and confronts these views, speaking out for equality and inclusion. Historical touchstones include the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Little Rock Nine, the Greensboro Sit-ins, the Freedom Fighters, and the Civil Rights Movement

“This play with music offers a pathway to understanding and compassion for young learners,” said Paul Whelihan, Pushcart producing artistic director. “It resonates with the voice in each of us to fight against injustice.”

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“Lift Every Voice: A Letter to the Editor” was written by Tylie Shider and directed by Whelihan. The cast features Joshua Hendricks, Marlaina Powell, and Harriett Trangucci.

“Lift Every Voice: A Letter to the Editor” will be at the Paper Mill Playhouse, 22 Brookside Drive, Millburn NJ on Friday, February 9 at 10:00am. Tickets are available for purchase online or by calling the Paper Mill Playhouse at 973.376.4343.

Tylie Shider is a 2020-21 Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow and an I Am Soul Playwright Resident at the National Black Theatre. His plays include Parable of the Backyard Roots (2019 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Finalist), Bastard, Platform States of Mind and Talk. His work has been developed by Liberation Theatre Company, Dixon Place, La MaMa, Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Harlem 9, Homebase Theatre Collective, 3:5 Creative[s], Yendor Arts, The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Luna Stage, Joust Theatre co., New York New Works Theater Festival, and The Theater Project. Awards include: Drama Desk from Delaware State University, and The Theater Project’s One-Act competition 2015 Best Play and Audience Favorite. Member: Dramatist Guild of America, 2018 Playwright in residence at the Liberation Theatre Company, 2019-20 Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow, and the 2020-21 The Civilians R&D Group. He holds a BA in journalism from Delaware State University and an MFA in playwriting from New York University.

Whelihan directs, stage-manages and performs off-Broadway (47th Street Theater, 59 East 59 Theatres, NY Fringe Festival, 54 Below) and regionally (Short North Stage [OH], Royal Poincianna Playhouse, Broward Center for the Arts, Quillo Arts Center [FL], Centenary Stage, The Company, The Bickford Theatre, Growing Stage, Luna Stage, Forum Theatre, Premier Stages, Dreamcatcher Rep [NJ]) in musicals, dramas, and original works. He has appeared in locally produced television, film, and web series projects.

Joshua Hendricks is a 22 year old NYC based actor born and raised in New Jersey. After working on several commercials and television appearances when he was younger, he was inspired to pursue acting even further. This allowed him to study drama in NYU Tisch and it’s multitude of studios, as well as Shakespeare and Performance at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He has played a range of roles from The Groom in Blood Wedding (Playwrights Horizons Theater School) to Timon in Timon of Athens (RADA). He also has a minor in film production and has written/directed a number of short films.

Marlaina Powell is a proud product of Howard University, The City College of New York, and New York University’s Prestigious Steinhardt School where she received her Master of Music. She is a member of both Actors’ Equity Association, and the Screen Actors Guild. Marlaina’s favorite stage credits include Disney’s The Lion King (Broadway), and Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Broadway), The Civil War (National Tour), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (National Tour) and NUNSENSE! Marlaina was featured in Disenchanted! as The Princess Who Kissed The Frog at The Women’s Theater of New Jersey’s Parsippany Playhouse, and most recently starred in the Off-Broadway musical Sistas, at the St. Luke’s Theater in NYC. She sings professionally in the New York Tri-state Area, a university lecturer/adjunct professor, teaching Musical Theater Technique, Musical Theater History, and voice, and owner of Musical Theater in the Park, LLC. She is the proud wife of Stephen W. Powell, and proud mother of two girls; Sinclair (15) and Simone (11).

Harriett Trangucci has been performing professionally in New Jersey and New York for 25 years. As a longtime company member at Vivid Stage (formerly Dreamcatcher Rep) Harriett has appeared in Twirl, The Other Place, The How and the Why, The Lucky Ones, Distracted, and Pride’s Crossing among many others. Favorite shows at other regional theaters include Clever Little Lies, Plaza Suite, Girls Room, Defying Gravity, Stepping Out and The Women. Harriet especially loves performing in new works. She is blessed to have had that opportunity many times at Vivid Stage, NY Fringe Festival, ARTNY and The Tank. Harriett trained at William Esper Studios and attended Indiana University.

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Pushcart Players is the award-winning professional touring theater company specializing in arts education for children. Twice nominated for an Emmy©, Pushcart is the recipient of numerous state and private awards for excellence and innovation. 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 6.6 million miles nationally and abroad, from the rural red schoolhouse to the White House.

Pushcart Players addresses social studies, literature, history, special educational needs, social-emotional learning, equity, diversity, accessibility, inclusion, values clarification, and character education for young people, their families, and their educators. All performances by professional artists (Actors’ Equity Association) are supported by study guides, post-performance assessments, and other supplemental materials. Pushcart adapts to any location with innovative scenery, lighting, and sound systems.

As a social-profit organization, Pushcart Players’ programs are made possible in part by NJ State Council on the Arts/Department of State, NJ State Bar Foundation, Pine Tree Foundation of New York, Actors’ Equity Foundation, ADP Foundation, The Community Foundation of NJ, EJ Grassmann Trust, The Grunin Foundation, Hyde & Watson Foundation, The Montclair Foundation, Newark Arts, PNC Bank/Lillian Schenck Foundation, The Sosland Foundation, Turrell Fund, The Whitehill Foundation, and numerous individual contributors.




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