When writer/creator Lapacazo Sandoval envisioned “Taking The E-Train,” her fun guide to riding this major subway line, she did anticipate that her little tome would enjoy life as a multimedia concept. But not until master teacher Amanda McDowall came up with her adaptation of the book as a music theater experience, did this book realize in real-time its possibilities. With that in mind, she married African drumming, song and hip-hop choreography to the lively narrative.
McDowall’s day job is teaching musical theater at the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA), so it’s natural for her to be directing of this free theatrical reading of this new children story this weekend, Saturday, November 4th at 10 am. It is the inaugural event to launch a kids music theater series at the school. “Taking The E Train” makes for important selection to serves as the kick off for the reading series.
As McDowall explains, “It is perfect to kick off the reading series because the story itself is such a New York City story, and at a place like the Harlem School of the Arts where we have an incredibly diverse group of students, we get to really highlight kids who may not have been featured before.”
The Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) has partnered with publisher KaZoom Kids iStoryBooks, to launch this reading series designed to stimulate a love of reading, especially for kids of color. Too often African American and Latino children are disconnected from the stories they see in the books available to them because they do not see themselves represented there.
This theatrical reading is about adventurous Abuela who takes her three grandchildren on an adventure on the E train on one of the hottest days of summer -- no wonder, because the E train has the best air conditioning. Another story, also a part of the series, is “Everybody Loves Cake,”which illuminates the joy of baking with Sharon and Grandmother Abuela as they create new and delicious treats while keeping tradition and making “sweet” memories. In “Kason’s Kite,” a father and son bond over a kite making project.
The multicultural KaZoom ebooks use sight, sound, motion, and animation to stimulate kids to interact and become more engaged with the stories they read.
With that in mind, McDowell enthusiastically adds, “The book also really lends itself to allow a huge group of performers to participate which is always great. All our students are so hungry and so ready to perform and we get to give the opportunity to so many of them because of that.”
Besides her role as a teacher, McDowall has been dressing the kids who participate in the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade for the past six years. She provides the kids and audience alike with a rich creative experience.
Given that Harlem School of the Arts is New York City’s premier community arts institution, McDowall has had an opportunity to do something that can really inspire kids and adults alike. HSA’s alumni and faculty are counted among the most talented leaders in the arts.
HSA is unique in that it’s the sole provider of arts education in four disciplines: music, dance, theatre, and visual arts, all within an award-winning 37,000 square foot facility. With a reputation for artistic rigor and excellence it attracts constituents of diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds from all five New York City boroughs as well as Westchester County, Connecticut and New Jersey.
For more than 50-years, HSA has enriched the lives of tens of thousands of young people ages 2-18 through its world-class training in the arts. Given the institution’s prominence, it is an ideal platform for multicultural author Sandoval to see her work presented. A longtime contributor to Essence.com and the New York Amsterdam News, the veteran writer has created a whole series of classic New York stories for kids; HSA will be the perfect place to experience them live.
“Taking The E-Train” Free Reading
written Lapacazo Sandoval
directed by Amanda McDowall
Saturday, November 4th at 10am
Harlem School of the Arts
645 Saint Nicholas Avenue
New York, NY 10030