Up on Sugar Hill: New musical has a recipe to make veggie food kid-friendly

Up on Sugar Hill:
New musical has a recipe to make veggie food kid-friendly

  "Veggie Boogie!"  Photo by Michael Palma Mir

"Veggie Boogie!" Photo by Michael Palma Mir

How do you get children excited about eating vegetables? You start by having them make their own vegetable inspired puppets and participate in a musical. Such is the unorthodox approach taken by playwright, Ave Maria Cross in “VEGGIE BOOGIE!” which was presented at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling on March 12.

“Before the performance the children worked with artists on making vegetable puppets. Their job during the play was to throw their puppets into the cauldron,” said Cross. “It was fun to see them contribute their vegetables on stage and the kids loved it.”

  Veggie puppet-making in progress.   Photo by Michael Palma Mir

Veggie puppet-making in progress.  Photo by Michael Palma Mir

The musical is described as a tale of a child learning to grow up helped by an unusual medicine man, a spiritual African stilt walker, a few magic spells and special veggie potions. Cross was inspired to write the musical from her own upbringing having enjoyed vegetables, largely out of necessity.

  The final scene of "Veggie Boogie!"    Photo by Michael  Palma Mir

The final scene of "Veggie Boogie!" Photo by Michael  Palma Mir

“Growing up poor in the Bronx we didn’t eat a lot of meat because we couldn’t afford it. So we would eat a lot of vegetables,” she recalled. “We would actually pick dandelions and blackberries in the North Bronx which was very woodsy back then.”

Now she hopes that her musical will motivate other children to become their own advocates of healthy eating. “It’s important to get families talking about eating more vegetables. Children need to know the names of vegetables and be included in the preparation of foods like a salad. They can tear the lettuce and use special knives to cut up tomatoes and celery.”

Creating books during Midwinter Recess Camp

From veggie puppets to books, the children at the Museum do it all. In February, an estimated 40 children gathered for Midwinter Recess Camp, tapping into into their imaginations to write and illustrate their own mini-books using watercolor, oil pastel and collage elements. 

  Library of children's books created during camp.    Photo by Michael Palma Mir

Library of children's books created during camp. Photo by Michael Palma Mir

“This program encourages the development of self-determination in the young audiences we serve,” said the Museum’s Associate Director for Education, Jen Ifil-Ryan. “Each child was challenged to create their own book based on something of interest to them. Camp participants were introduced to elements in storytelling such as setting, character, and narrative.”

  Everyone had a chance to share their book on the last day of camp.  Photo by Michael Palma Mir

Everyone had a chance to share their book on the last day of camp. Photo by Michael Palma Mir

Ryan, who was recently interviewed on WNBC-TV here shared that the next camp will run from April 25-29. It will be presented in partnership with PEN World Voices Festival, José Limón Dance Company, Dance Theater of Harlem, and Young Audiences. For more information please click here.

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Up on Sugar Hill is a monthly blog post developed by the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling and written by Souleo. Each month features highlights from the museum’s exhibitions, public programs and/or blog.