YOUNG AT HEART: PERFORMER LOIS YOUNG BRINGS KID-FRIENDLY FUN TO NEW CENTURY CLUB
By: Christine Neff
FEBRUARY 8, 2007 (Originally published in the Newark Post)
It's a few minutes before 10:30am on a recent Saturday and the parking lot behind the Newark New Century Club on Delaware Avenue is already full. Preschoolers and toddlers dressed as princesses and superheroes for February's theme bond towards the building, their parents' hand in one hand, a favorite stuffed animal in the other.
Inside, they add their names to the show's club roster and make their way into an auditorium that for next hour will become their world --- a colorful world full of song, dance and kid sized fun.
Pianist John Southard keeps everyone entertained with a few introductory tunes. And then the woman they've come to see appears, wearing bright blue pants, a cherry red top and suspenders decorated with all kinds of buttons.
She draws a cheer from the kids that now line the front of the stage. Others wave from their seats. Even infants look on, wide eyed, from their mothers' laps.
"Welcome to our superhero show," says Lois Young, her voice filled with excitement. "I'm so thrilled you're here today." She then begins with a greeting song that includes each and every child's first name from the sign in sheet. Children raise their hands and wave with glee as they hear their names called.
Young, a Newark native, has been performing children's songs for about 20 years now. A talented musician and performer, she works with her husband, Southard, writing music and producing monthly children's shows in the Newark area. They often get help from their 13-year-old son, Mattie Young, and other members of the close knit family.
But, Newark wasn't always so lucky to have a performer like Young in its midst. After graduating from Newark High School, she moved to New York City. She studied voice and composition at the Manhattan School of Music and acting at the famed Neighborhood School for dramatic arts.
For a time, she lived in Los Angeles. There she did voiceover work for Disney, starred in more than 50 national TV commercials and recorded some of her songs with a national record label.
Eventually, she moved back to Newark with a desire to perform in her hometown. "I really wanted to do something here. That was important to me," she said.
She started doing shows at the New Century Club in 2004. At first it was challenging competing with the many other Saturday morning activities that involve kids. Thinking back on that time, she said, laughing, "I began to hate group sports."
But, the show must go on, and she and her family made sure it did, gaining regular attendees and new faces at each show. "I learned from all my years in the business that perseverance and tenacity are the biggest things. If there's something you love, you just have to keep persevering because you're going to go through times when it's just not the way you envisioned," she said.
Now, her monthly shows attract crowds, with parents coming from Newark, Bear, Wilmington and nearby Pennsylvania. The buzz made its way to the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, which has invited Young to perform there and to lead a music class for young children. The shows will kick off this fall, she said.
So what is it about Lois Young that makes the kids cheer?
Like many children's entertainers, Young uses puppets in her shows. She gets the kids involved, encouraging them to strike superhero poses and sing and dance along to her songs, which seem to strike a chord with the audience.
Writing children's songs, said Young, comes naturally. "When I started writing them, I knew I had found my real calling," she said. "I really am very, very childlike in the way I view the world...I like to get inside a child's mind and see the world from their point of view and give voice to their feelings," she said.
Often, said Young, she turns adult experiences into songs for kids. She wrote one of her favorites, "Sticks and Stones (Always Have a Kind Word)," after her own feelings were hurt by a friend.
Young enjoys performing and being around children, describing them as "so wonderfully open and accessible, and expressive." And, she said, she has a strong connection to them during her shows. "That's one reason it works so well, because I think, in a way, they really feel I'm one of them."
~LOS ANGELES TIMES
This woman is very talented. Her show is a delight for preschoolers, older children and parents due to Young’s whimsical imagination and singular vocal talents.She respects her young audience and effortlessly includes them from beginning to end.
Greenville Community News — Eye on the Arts
By: Paula Shulak
AUGUST 19, 2003
Theater for the very young — Once a month Newark performer extraordinaire Lois Young presents a morning of whimsical entertainment for young children and they react with the kind of glee and merriment that no TV screen will ever provoke. Lois combines her beautifully trained voice, magical stories, original songs, and skill as a ventriloquist and puppeteer with her imaginative sets and bubbly energy to provide an hour of fun and fascination for young and old alike.
The show is a local version of Sesame Street. Each month a different color is highlighted and audience members wear something that color. They also bring a certain kind of stuffed animal. In August it was sunshine yellow and bunnies. Most of those in attendance were familiar with Lois's CD's and sang along as they danced in the aisles.
Lois's many puppets are adorable but each also has his own lesson to teach. One is shy, one has hiccups, one a runny nose ---the creativity is never ending.
She also appeals to each child by reading his or her name to welcome them and then singing songs in which their names are used. She has a well deserved national reputation and we are very fortunate to have her living in Delaware.
All in all it is a delightful hour from 10:30AM to11:30AM on the last Saturday of each month.
~THE PENNYWISE PARENT, ONTARIO CANADA
Several hundred listens later, our kids are still bound by the excellent music of Lois Young. Great albums that don’t grate on parent’s ears.
Lois Young's New Puppet Show
April 21, 1989 | LYNNE HEFFLEY
Singer/puppeteer Lois Young was scatting a jazz number from her new children's musical "The Lois Young Show" at the Back Alley Theatre when an impressed grown-up in the audience murmured to his companion, "This woman is very talented."
No argument here.
Her new solo song-and-puppet revue in a magic toy shop setting is a delight for preschoolers, older children and parents, thanks to Young's whimsical imagination and singular vocal talents.
In the show, written and conceived by Young and Robert A. Higgins, Young needs to buy her friend a gift, but she's too late;the toy shop is closed (Jim Stilsen did the charming set;Lawrence Oberman designed the cozy lighting).
Myrtle the Magician (the one puppet Young doesn't operate herself;its voice is hers, recorded), lets her in with a magic word and the toys come to life.
There's Baby Jazz, the scatting baby doll in shades;tongue-tied, shaggy Ziggy; shy bird Feathers;ticklish Bryan Bear;sleepy Lambie and sneezy Edgar. Each encounter means a sweet, funny or thoughtful original song that Young sings in a range of styles and voices about what it feels to be a child.
One by one, the toys teach Young that gifts aren't just material things, but also such intangibles as appreciation, sharing, consideration, comfort and humor.
Part of Young's appeal is that she respects her young audience and effortlessly includes them from beginning to end. Without it affecting the show's fluid timing, she responds to their responses, has them interact with the puppets, gives them key words to say and lyrics to sing and act out.
(It's a situation where the unexpected is expected. At Sunday's show, one small boy wanted Young to know that "I always say excuse me when I burp.")
Some of the songs and puppets will be familiar to those who saw Young's "Pancakes" musical last year. That show, with its high-tech "talking" Tune Buggy, was a treat. This one is even better.
At 15231 Burbank Blvd. , Van Nuys; Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. through May 14. Tickets:$6.50. (818)780-2240.
Lois has a beautiful voice. Her songs are a musical feast for all ages. Highly entertaining… An effervescent kid-romp.
~L.A. PARENT MAGAZINE
Lois Young is an original!..Versatile and refreshing.
|Newark Post||"Putting a Poem in your Pocket"|
|Hockessin Community News||"Local Performer Strives to Spark Imagination of Children"|
|Los Angeles Times||"Lois Young's New Puppet Show"|
|Los Angeles Times||"Techniques of Parenting and Performing Blend in a Magical Toy Shop"|
|Daily News||"Back Alley's 'Pancakes' provides musical feast for people of all ages"|
|Daily News||"'Pancakes' provides children with fun-filled holiday romp"|
|Quote||Gwen Hotchkiss, Internationally acclaimed music educator|
|Chinaberry Book Service||"Crack in the Door, Lullabies to Light the Night"|
|L.A. Parent Magazine||"Original Lullabies Save Bored Parents"|
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