Luna Stage's Bilingual Holiday Show MI CASA, TU CASA Returns, 11/28-12/16

Luna Stage's Bilingual Holiday Show MI CASA, TU CASA Returns, 11/28-12/16

Luna Stage presents last season's hit holiday show Mi Casa, Tu Casa with a few new surprises. It features a five-member band and a pair of host storytellers who guide their guests through a lively and engaging line-up of folksongs and fables, seasonal poems, holiday musical favorites, and personal anecdotes of family traditions. Even audience members become part of la fiesta in this unique interactive experience.

Originally co-created in 2011 by the show's director Jane Mandel, local musicians Michael Aquino and Deivis Garcia, and playwright Dania Ramos, this 2012 version of Mi Casa, Tu Casa has been revamped with some new stories and music that open the doors to a variety of cultures, exploring the beauty of language and song in English and Spanish. The show features The Casa Band (members Michael Aquino, Deivis Garcia, Jane Keitel, Cindi Merklee and Chris White) and new storytellers Jennica Carmona and Chris Kent. The set will again feature vibrant mural work by Jennifer Levine and students from Arts Unbound, a partner arts organization in The Valley Arts District. When considering what to program for this year's "holiday slot", Luna Stage Artistic Director Jane Mandel wanted to revive this special piece that, having been such a success last year, would again speak to the theatre's vastly diverse audience - something that would continue to rekindle the true spirit of tradition and family togetherness that is at the crux of all holiday celebrations. Longtime Luna collaborators Michael Aquino, Deivis Garcia and Dania Ramos were only too thrilled to bring the show back, with a fresh spin. The result is an innovative version of last year's festive and joyous show, suitable for the whole family, ages 2-102.

Mi Casa, Tu Casa previews on November 28 and 29 at 7:00pm, opens on November 30 and runs through December 16, 2012. Performance times are Friday evenings at 7pm, Saturday matinees at 11am and 3pm, and Sunday matinees at 3pm. The performance on Sunday, December 2 will be followed by a talkback with the show's co-creators. Tickets are on sale now: $20 for adults, $10 for kids 17 and younger. Preview tickets are all $10. Tickets can be purchased in person, on the phone at (973) 395-5551, or on the Luna Stage website: www.lunastage.org.

About the Co-Creators

Jane Mandel holds an MFA from New York University and has had a career in the theatre as actress, director, teacher and producer. She developed and directed Luna Stage's first production, In the Name of the Woman, which explores women's rituals and myths from ancient times and fast-forwards through history; and the critically acclaimed". We don't have enough sugar for the public," which is an exploration of racism based on people's personal stories. She is the creator ofThe American Project, an interactive theatre piece for middle and high school students that asks the question "What does it mean to be an American?" At Luna, she has also directed Reckless, Rosa Loses Her Face, Burying Fiona, The Queen of Thebes, Rapture, Friends & Relations, The Other Side of Newark, Ghosts, The Normals, Little Beasts and Fair and Decent. She has appeared onstage in Fanciesand Immoral Imperatives.

Michael Aquino is an actor, musician and singer-songwriter. He received a degree in theater from Montclair State University and has worked as an actor in regional theaters such as George Street Playhouse, The American Globe and Playwrights Theater of New Jersey. At Luna Stage, he was in the cast of the professional premiere of Sheldon Harnick's musicalDragons, as well asGhostsstarring Frankie Faison. In 2005 and 2006, he also served as the Summer Camp Director for Luna and collaborated with students in writing the score for their original musical. Michael has written over 50 original songs on guitar. He also created and facilitated 14 Songs in 14 Days, an intensive online songwriting workshop. This past spring he was invited to perform with Ken Kusama at the Cape May Singer-Songwriter Festival. 2010 saw the release of his band Sirs' debut album, The Black Friday Sessions. He's currently in pre-production for his debut solo album. In 2008, Michael Created Indie Music Circus, a showcase for independent musicians in residence at Luna Stage. For updates about Michael, visit something-artsy.com.

Dania Ramos' writing has been featured in the Rose City Project: Literary Showcase at Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, Luna Stage's On the Road educational theater series, and the Playwrights Summer Institute at New Jersey City University. She's a current participant in the NJ Emerging Women Playwrights Project at Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey. Dania is the creator of the Literary Lounge reading series, presented at Luna Stage, which has featured over forty local and regional writers of fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction. She received a 2003 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Playwriting Fellowship and a 2011 Norman Mailer Center Young Adult Fiction Workshop Scholarship. Dania is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University and a BFA in Theatre Performance from Montclair State University.

Deivis Garcia is a singer/songwriter, and collaborator, who specializes in a unique brand of music he calls "Spanglish Guajirobilly." His sound, be it alternately in English or Spanish (or both), is an ambitious blend of the rural folkloric styles of Pan-Latin America – ranging from Mexico to Cuba to Puerto Rico to Colombia and Bolivia – along with his own original tunes as influenced by American Roots music, Southern Blues, Doo Wop music, Rockabilly and Outlaw Country music. His approach is, not so much to push boundaries but to represent the very living, breathing, and evolving frontiers of overlapping cultural identities. His own reflection of this happens to emerge as a circuit between the rich histories of his own Caribbean, North American, and South American background. Deivis was born in Elizabeth, NJ, has had cartoons published in Raygun Publishing's Bikini Magazine and in the printed edition of Jersey Tomato Press, a short story published in Dirt Press: Volume One. His story "Word Is Bond" was shortlisted for the 2009 Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. He is also a muralist and painter, and co-founded the annual Boro 6 Indie Music fest in Montclair.

Arts Unbound is a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 and incorporated in 2003 as a 501c3 nonprofit. Their mission is to provide arts education, skills building, and a variety of vocational opportunities in the visual arts to youth and adults with mental, developmental, and physical disabilities. The organization strives to inspire students of all ages through classes in the visual arts, cultivating avenues of self- expression, personal achievement and life enrichment that come with mastering art techniques. They also provide the professional training necessary for emerging artists to compete on the retail market and to share their creativity with the world as artists who happen to live with disabilities.

Luna Stage was founded in 1992 by Jane Mandel, Artistic Director, and became an Equity Theater in 1995. For 18 years, the company made its home in Montclair, New Jersey, first in a small space on Walnut Street and then moving into a larger facility on Bloomfield Avenue. In the fall of 2010, Luna Stage moved to West Orange and opened its inaugural season at our new home at 555 Valley Road, right in the heart of the Valley Arts District. Luna Stage has always believEd Strongly in the power of the arts to bring vitality and enrichment to communities. So, the company is very proud and excited to be part of a dynamic movement of revitalization and community engagement. Our brand new theatre is easily accessible by car or rail from all points in New Jersey and NYC. The facility features a 99-seat black box theatre, a 40-seat Studio Theatre, a rehearsal studio, art gallery and administrative offices, and has been specially designed to meet the needs of Luna Stage and its audiences. Luna Stage is located at 555 Valley Road, West Orange, NJ. Call 973-395-5551 for more information. The theatre is handicapped accessible and assisted listening devices are available.

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