Luna Stage is presenting the world premiere of a new bilingual holiday celebration for the entire family. Mi Casa, Tu Casa it started on December 1 and runs through December 18. Performance times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are on sale now, $25 for adults, $10 for children 12 and younger, and can be purchased in person, on the phone at 973-395-5551, or on the Luna Stage website: www.lunastage.org.
Mi Casa, Tu Casa 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.
Under the artistic direction of Jane Mandel, local musicians Michael Aquino and Deivis Garcia and playwright Dania Ramos have co-created a show that opens 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 storytellers Ernio Hernandez and Paula Moscoso. The set features 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 the “holiday slot”, Luna Stage Artistic Director Jane Mandel and Managing Director Mona Hennessy wanted to present a piece that would speak to the theatre’s vastly diverse audience – something that would rekindle the true spirit of tradition and family togetherness that is at the crux of all holiday celebrations. They approached longtime Luna collaborators Michael Aquino, Deivis Garcia and Dania Ramos about creating a work specifically for Luna Stage. The result is a festive and joyous performance for the whole family, ages 2-102.
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 musical Dragons, as well as Ghosts starring 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, in residence 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.
For information on Mi Casa, Tu Casa and all other events and programs at Luna Stage, visit the company website: www.lunastage.org. Luna Stage is located at 555 Valley Road, West Orange, NJ 07052. 973-395-5551. The theatre is handicapped accessible and assisted listening devices are available.