Tween Laughter and Inspiration from Parallel Exit

Parallel Exit

My daughter is getting older and she doesn’t get as excited about our adventures as she used to. Last weekend when I informed her we were going to a show, her reaction wasn’t stellar and I needed the show to be a home run.  The show we were going to needed to be first-rate or perhaps my tween wouldn’t come to another show with me. And that would be the end of The Culture Mom as you know it.

Did I score?  Oh, yes.  Fortunately, I happen to live in a town next door to the home of the wonderful Emelin Theatre.  We’ve seen many of their family performances over the last nine years and haven’t not been disappointed yet.  But this particular show was the funniest and most enjoyable for me as an adult member of the audience. As for my tween, the smile didn’t leave her face from the minute one of the performers came on stage until the end when the five members of the group took their bow.  As usual, my gaze went from the stage to her face.  I want to frame her smile and hold on to her childhood laughter for as long as I can.

The group that we had come to see is called Parallel Exit.   They’ve performed at theaters and festivals all over the world. In New York City, they have performed at The New Victory Theater, The Guggenheim Museum, in schools (through The Lincoln Center Institute and LEAP), and through partnerships with other organizations (Making Books Sing).  I can understand why any venue or series would want them to come perform for their kids.  Their work blends theatre, dance, and music into productions that transcend age, language, and cultural barriers, and they’re dedicated to preserving and promoting the variety arts for diverse and underserved communities of children and adults.

This particular show being put on in Mamaroneck was called Exit Stage Left, which combines Parallel Exit’s vaudeville, slapstick, music and old-fashioned laughter. It’s Buster Keaton meets the Three Stooges. There was humor, tap dancing, interaction with the audience and clever stunts.  The five performers have a wonderful camaraderie and rapport and certainly know how to tickle a child’s fancy.  There was a little boy sitting in front of me who was so beside himself with delight that he kept jumping up to tell the actors.  His father graciously and kindly calmed him down but never asked him to stop expressing his joy, which was nice to see.

Over the past 10 years, Parallel Exit has reached over 10,000 students in New York City public schools, and over 10,000 audience members in our theatrical venues. Parallel Exit was launched in 1997 when their production WHITE/NOISE/JUMP received “Best in The Fringe Festival – Excellence in Theatre” at the inaugural New York International Fringe Festival. Since then, Parallel Exit’s work has explored a wide range of physical forms, from dance to vaudeville to live-action silent film to tap. In addition to an annual New York City season, Parallel Exit travels throughout the United States and the world to present our work to as wide an audience as possible.

Keep an eye out for their future performances to see if Parallel Exit is coming to a venue near you. I hope you and your children get a chance to see them.

Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary tickets to facilitate this review.


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