On Sunday, March 1, 2020, the true story of two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo comes to life at The Mendel Center in Penguins, a new theatrical performance for children. Presented by Cahoots NI, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and Prime Theatre, this nationally touring production will be live, on stage during two performances on the Mainstage at 1 and 4 pm.
Families will enjoy the sensory friendly 1 pm show in a safe and accepting, calmly lit environment with softened sound. While this performance is designed especially for children on the autism spectrum and those with sensory sensitivities or other special needs, this performance is open to all families. The 4 pm performance is designed for general audiences.
Inspired by a report in The New York Times that touched hearts worldwide, Penguins tells the story of Roy and Silo, two male Chinstrap penguins who, just like the other penguins at Central Park Zoo, walk, play, swim, and dance together. When the duo decides to try to hatch a rock in place of an egg, they find themselves on an adventure that could mean raising a chick for real. Penguins is a captivating mix of dance, music, and storytelling that centers on themes of friendship, fun, identity, and the ever-changing meaning of family.
Director Paul Bosco McEneaney, who drew inspiration from this story and has adapted it for the stage, states, “I am thrilled to be sharing this heart-warming tale with our American audiences. We have created a truly unique and uplifting theater piece for young audiences and their families to enjoy. Penguins is a highly visual, non-verbal performance with beautiful music, wonderful magic, and a message of love and family that we hope will leave a lasting impression.”
Choreographer Carlos Pons Guerra added, “I am extremely delighted to be part of such an important and heart-warming production as Penguins. I truly respect and defend director Paul Mc Eneaney’s belief that children’s theater can speak valuable truths and carry important messages to young audiences.”
Guerra further stated, “Penguins is a show that also celebrates being different and accepting each other’s uniqueness through companionship. As choreographer, I’m creating the movement script for the work, which has no text. We’ll have three charismatic penguins who happily dance to their own tunes, which I also hope invites children to discover their unique melodies and voices by trying dance and theater.”
Award-winning children’s director Paul Bosco McEneaney is the artistic director of Cahoots NI – Northern Ireland’s leading children’s theatre company that produces boldly innovative work for children and their families. His previously acclaimed productions include Egg, Lights! Camera! Math!, Danny Carmo’s Mathematical Mysteries, Nivelli’s War, and Shh! We Have a Plan.
Carlos Pons Guerra is an independent choreographer who has created work for companies including Rambert, Northern Ballet, Attakkalari (India) and ENDanza (Dominican Republic). He directs DeNada Dance Theatre, for which he has created four internationally touring productions. Nominated for the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in 2015 (Best Emerging Artist) & 2016 (Best Independent Company), he is currently creating a new ballet for Ballet Hispanico of New York; TORO, an original full-length production for DeNada, and Man to Monk, a duet commissioned by Sadler’s Wells.
Penguins will feature three outstanding dancers – Dom Coffey, Osian Meilir, and Olivia Van Niekerk. Set and costume design is by Sabine Dargent, lighting design by Simon Bond, and original music/sound design by Garth McConaghie.
This performance is recommended for family and school audiences ages 3 through grade 3. Running time is 45 mins.
Tickets for Penguins are on sale at TheMendelCenter.com, through The Mendel Center Box Office at (269) 927-8700, option 1, and in person weekdays from 10 am to 6 pm at the box office located in the Grand Upton Hall lobby of The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College, 2755 E. Napier Avenue, Benton Harbor.
Ticket discounts are available for seniors, students and children, and veterans. Groups of 10 or more receive ticket discounts when orders are placed through The Mendel Center Box Office or online.
This performance is presented in partnership with LOGAN Autism Learning Center of Southwest Michigan, and is made possible in part by the Gast Young People’s Performance Endowment.
About the Discovery Series
Now in its seventh season, The Mendel Center’s Discovery Series provides family friendly performing arts events for audiences of all ages. The series delivers enriching experiences that introduce young people and their families to the excitement of professionally produced touring productions. The goal of the series is to inspire creativity, spark imagination, educate through the arts, and create opportunities to build cherished memories while having a lot of fun. The Discovery Series is made possible in part by the Gast Young People’s Performance Endowment.
About The Mendel Center
The Mendel Center is 30 minutes from Niles and 40 minutes from the Kalamazoo and South Bend areas. It is located on the Lake Michigan College campus at 2755 E. Napier Avenue, Benton Harbor, Michigan, one mile east of I-94 (Exit 30) and one mile west of the US 31 Bypass (exit 24). Its GPS mapping address is 1100 Yore Avenue, Benton Harbor, MI.