Show Review: Story Pirates by Margaret Hart

This past weekend I saw a wonderful performance at The NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.  Part of the Skirball Center’s Big Red Chair Family Series, “Story Pirates” featured a group of musical sketch comedy artists who brought a story to life based on the words and ideas provided by kids in the audience. It was creative, clever and really funny.

IMG_6663At one point in our customized story, a goat was ascending the top of a mountain in an effort to get to whatever was on the other side. When he reached the top, a giant scary dinosaur confronted the goat and told him he could not cross unless he did what the dinosaur asked.

“What did the dinosaur ask?” the actor who was helping to narrate the story asked the audience. Dozens of young hands were raised enthusiastically.

According to my ten-year old son, who was chosen to provide the story lines for this next segment, “He told him to do math.”  The audience erupted in laughter.  And the story continued, with the actors, acting as the goat and the big, scary dinosaur, quizzing each other on math.

“What’s 2+2?” asked the goat. “Uhm, let’s see; that’s four,” answered the dinosaur.  And then the story continued to unfold as each actor posed a question to the audience, and each young hand was raised in the air to contribute the words and characters.

When the show was over, the cast gathered in the lobby to meet with kids, which was fantastic, which was a nice opportunity for the kids to continue to express their thoughts on the story. The cast also offered complimentary signed show posters.

Founded in 2003, Story Pirates is a national education and media organization that offers writing workshops and the comedy show, which has performed in more than 30 states around the country. Story Pirates is one of five performances this season in the Skirball Center’s 2014-2015 Big Red Chair Series featuring live performances that introduce children to theater.  The Series concludes with The Very Hungry Caterpillar next month, on April 4.  Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased online at or in person at the box office (566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square), Tuesday through Saturday, from 12:00 Noon to 6:00 pm. 

Skirball Center for the Performing ArtsIn addition to the Big Red Chair Family Series, The NYU Skirball Center offers a wide range of performances for adults featuring music, dance, film, and speakers, with multiple shows each month.  Coming up in May, you can listen to singer John Legend and photographer Gillian Laub discuss their new film, “Southern Rites,” about a segregated high school prom that sparked a national conversation on race.  Or you can watch actor Ralph Fiennes in the film Man and Superman.  If you are into reality television, Bethenny Frankel will also appear in May, as part of the Speakers on the Square series.  Want to learn about what lies beyond our skies? There’s a talk with a NASA engineer who has researched the planet Mars for more than a decade. Not only is the programming at this theater culturally and intellectually diverse, but the ticket prices are equally attractive.  Prices range from $15 to $40 for John Legend, $30 to $65 for the NASA talk about Mars, $25 for the film Man and Superman, and $30 for Bethenny Frankel. 

With 860 seats, The NYU Skirball Center theater is intimate and modern, and there doesn’t appear to be a bad seat in the house. Speaking of the seats, they are spacious and comfortable. While I enjoy the the glitz and glamour of a big Broadway  production, seats in the older theaters are often cramped and uncomfortable. Not so with the Skirball Center: the seats are made for woman who actually have hips! 

To see the full schedule of upcoming performances, and to purchase tickets, visit the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts website or call (212) 992-8484.   




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