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Miller Theatre to Launch New Family Holiday Tradition with CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS, 12/19

Miller Theatre inaugurates a new holiday tradition, a playful production that brings to life Saint-Saëns' musical "salute to feathers, fur, and fins" - CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS. A modern twist on Victorian toy theater, this imaginative staging combines music, scenic elements, puppetry, and movement, plus the clever verses of Ogden Nash. Curtain-raisers from the 16th Century to present-day set the stage and kindle the spirit of the holidays. Just about an hour in length, this family-friendly presentation is the perfect December treat to delight imaginative audiences of all ages.

From Miller Theatre Executive Director Melissa Smey: "Bringing family programing to Miller has always been a desire of mine, so this production is a dream come true. I can't wait to welcome a new generation of Miller Theatre enthusiasts with this production of CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS."

Recommended for ages 6 and up. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Each person, regardless of age, must have a ticket to be admitted. CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS is set for Saturday, December 19, 2015
3:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. at Miller Theatre (2960 Broadway at 116th Street). Tickets: $15-$40 for Adults; $9-$24 for Children and Students. Visit www.millertheatre.com/events/carnival-of-the-animals1 for more information.

REPERTOIRE
William Byrd (c. 1540 - 1623): A Galliards Gygge from My Ladye Nevells Booke
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893): Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
from The Nutcracker Suite
Peter Yarrow (b. 1938): Light One Candle
Katherine Kennicott Davis (1892-1980): The Little Drummer Boy
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921): The CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS

CREATIVE & PRODUCTION TEAM
Lake Simons, director and designer
Laura Barger, music director
Michael McGee, lighting designer
Brenna St. George Jones, director of production
Taylor Riccio, technical director

PERFORMERS
Lelund Thompson, narrator
Kirsten Kammermeyer, puppeteer
Brendan McMahon, puppeteer
Justin Perkins, puppeteer
Rachael Shane, puppeteer Margaret Lancaster, flute
Christa Van Alstine, clarinet
Joshua Modney, violin
Olivia De Prato, violin
Victor Lowrie, viola
Mariel Roberts, cello
Eleonore Oppenheim, bass
Laura Barger, piano
Ning Yu, piano
Russell Greenberg, percussion

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Lake Simons (www.lakesimons.com) - Lake Simons is a theatre artist based in New York City with strong ties to Fort Worth, Texas. She is a director, designer, choreographer, puppeteer, builder, painter, and performer. She makes theatre productions that utilize puppetry, movement, and live music. But most importantly she relies on make-believe.

Simons has collaborated with many distinguished artists creating theatre productions from the ground up. Her creations have been performed in New York City, Fort Worth, Boston, Chicago, and Edinburgh, Scotland. Simons is a recipient of multiple Jim Henson Foundation Grants for Alice's Adventure in Wonderland, White Elephant, Wind Set-up, and Tree Pop. As a designer she has collaborated with New York Shakespeare Festival, Signature Theatre Company, Doug Elkins, Kristin Marting, My Brightest Diamond, Cori Orlinghouse, Alexandra Aron and Peggy Stafford, Adrienne Kapstein, Division 13, Theatre Works USA, Peculiar Works, Hip Pocket Theatre, Fort Worth Opera, Sarah Lawrence College, and Dallas Children's Theatre.

Simons served as a Puppetry Associate for the Lincoln Center Broadway production of War Horse and assistant movement and puppetry director for the national tour. She is a frequent curator for Great Small Works Toy Theatre Festival. Simons was one of four Americans who participated in a collaboration with Koryu Nishikawa V of the Kuruma-Ningyo Puppet Theatre in Japan. She joined The Rockettes on stage as a puppeteer in their Spring Spectacular at Radio City in New York City. She teaches set design and puppetry at Sarah Lawrence College.

Laura Barger (laurabarger.com) - Laura Barger is sought-after for her dedication to contemporary music and her energetic, committed performances. As a founding member of the chamber quartet, Yarn/Wire (called "fearless" by Time Out New York), Barger has helped to commission numerous new works by leading composers of our time. In addition to her work with Yarn/Wire, Barger has performed with the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Argento Ensemble, Wet Ink Ensemble, and Lost Dog New Music. International appearances include the Lucerne Festival, The National Gallery of Ireland, Västerås Konserthus, Darmstadt Festival for New Music, and the Banff Centre for the Arts, among others. Barger holds degrees from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (BM) and SUNY Stony Brook (MM, DMA). She teaches at the 92nd Street Y School of Music in Manhattan.

Lelund Durond Thompson (www.lelunddurond.com) - Lelund Durond Thompson received his BFA from North Carolina A&T State University, where he was recognized with several Paul Robeson Awards for acting. Thompson received his MFA from the CASE/Cleveland Play House Actor Training Program, where he was the first African American to graduate the program. After graduation, Thompson moved to New York City where he has continued to work professionally as an actor, writer, photographer, and coach.

He was commissioned (with Dove Award-winning producer/writer Jason Michael Webb) to write an original musical for Classical Theater of Harlem, The First Noel, which will premiere this December at the world-famous Apollo Theater. Songs that he has written can be found on the albums Love Lead the Way (Brooklyn Tabernacle, 2013), This is the Day (JB Spiritual Singers, 2010), and Wildflower, the debut album from Tshidi Manye of Disney's The Lion King. Another collaboration with Webb (Light It Up!, recorded by vocalist, Martha Wash) was selected by Bloomingdale's to unveil their Christmas windows in 2011.

In 2011, Thompson founded YellaFella Entertainment and began producing and directing theater in NYC (Stephen Adly Guirgis' Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, Laurence Maslon's The Devine One: Sassy Swings Tokyo, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts); serving as associate producer and Director of Photography for music videos and webseries (Homegirls); writing; and helping to coach and develop talent. His work from the photography arm of YellaFella (YF Fotography) has been published in the New York Times, in Playbills for Broadway productions, and has included shoots for Ricky Martin, Daniel Radcliffe, and Perez Hilton. Thompson also serves as personal acting coach for film and television actors such as Diane Guerrero (Orange is the New Black, Jane the Virgin) and Ato Essandoh (Django Unchained, Martin Scorsese's Vinyl).

Columbia University's Miller Theatre is located north of the Main Campus Gate at 116th St. & Broadway on the ground floor of Dodge Hall. Directions and information is available online at www.millertheatre.com or via the Miller Theatre Box Office, at 212.854.7799.



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