Magic It Up, 2019 (Queens Gazette)

See the Queens Gazette article of Magic It Up, 2019.

Magic It Up!

July 03, 2019

By Kate Defeo

On May 18 and 19 the Garden Players premiered Magic It Up, an original family musical with book and lyrics by

Wizards (l. to r.): Caitlin (Wizard of Pause), Sophie (Wizard of Sauce), Ian (Assistant Wizard stirring the magic potion), Jessica (Wizard of Cause), Alexa (Wizard of Floss), and Amelia (Wizard of Flaws).

Betina Hershey and music by Sunny Knable. This production was a labor of love involving many students from 1st through 8th grade, parents, artists, and teachers from all over Queens.

Photos by Jacqui Hemmerdinger
Jack getting Hairsome make-up put on before the show.

This was my first year working with the Garden Players, and the play creation was such an exciting process to witness! My background

Rising Stars actors sing I Wish.

is in improvisational theater, so it was a thrill to see that the source material for

The Wizard of Floss has a moment (l. to r.): Amelia (Wizard of Flaws), Sophie (Wizard of Sauce), and Samantha (Wizard of Floss).

Hairsomes (l. to r.): Isaac, Lydian, Luke, James, and Jack.

writing the original musical was

Wizards (l. to r.): Samantha (Wizard of Floss), Dylan (Wizard of Sauce), Yotam (Wizard of Applause), Amelia (Wizard of Flaws), Caitlin (Wizard of Pause), and Emma (Wizard of Cause).

created by having the students run acting improv exercises. During classes, the students would break out into groups and would come up with scenes to discover how the Unicorns should move (doing tai-chi while slowly passing wisdom, of course!) and what the

Sets crew members (l. to r.): Liz Sheehan (painter/designer), Betina Hershey (director), Steve and Daniel Hofmann (set movers).

Hairsomes should be up to (whimsical dancing and tumbling, too!) and don’t forget how the Water Eagles should rule (by flapping their wings and drowning the kids in air!). Even the 1st and 2nd graders got into the action by improvising what their own personal wishes would be if they could wave a magic

(L. to r.): Mia (Hairsome), Nia (Hairsome), additional Hairsomes, Caitlin (Wizard of Pause)

wand (my personal favorite being I wish I was a grandmother) which then became the words to the beautiful song, I Wish.

One of my favorite sessions was watching the 8th graders develop all of the wizards. What started out as one allusion to The Wizard of Oz with The Wizard of Paws, became a multitude of rhyme from the students, creating the Wizards: Pause, Cause, Sauce, Floss and Flaws. It was a joy to watch the students steer the direction of the play creating a

Costume Parent Volunteer Crew members (l. to r.): Saloni Wadia, Gina Kuniya, Jennifer Carney, Melissa Ramos, Denise Oest, and Tanitha Hathcock.

wonderful sense of ownership of the words and the songs.
There were so many wonderful supporters of this program, whether it

Interview (l. to r.): Xavier (Janitor), Alexandra (Magic Believer), and Maya (Reporter).

was the graduates from the Garden Players returning to work the show weekend and spending time reminiscing on their time with the program, or parents doing all of the make-up and costumes, or the fantastic artists Liz Sheehan and Diane Castañeda helping to create the sets; this show was truly a spectacle of community.

Magical Kids Holding the Magic Ball (l. to r.): Caroline, Aria, and Avery. Unicorns: Seriana, Jane, Eliza, and Leo.

Sets volunteer Steve Hofmann excitedly whispered during the closing show, “I never realized how much I loved

Water Eagles (l. to r.): Megan, Lauren, Sebastian, Taidgh, and Andrew.

theater until my son started performing. Getting involved and helping to build the sets was exciting. I can’t wait to do even more!”

The Garden Players start up again at the end of September as they get ready for another new musical next May. Registration and more information is available at

Interview (l. to r.): Mary (Farmer) and Simone (Reporter).