CTC Peekskill | About
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Our History

The award winning Children’s Theatre Company of New York (CTC) which was launched in 1999, was the inspiration of the formation of the CTC Peekskill chapter in 2006. Ridvan Foxhall who founded the Peekskill chapter was attracted to the idea of using theatre as a tool for character development.  Since 2006 CTC Peekskill has grown to become and inspiration in it’s community, inspiring an average of 24 children each season who participate in our theatre program.

As of 2019, CTC Peekskill is an independent theatre program operating under the leadership of New Era Creative Space (NECS), a charitable organization based in Peekskill. We are grateful to CTC NY for their support and leadership over the years.

About CTC (New York)

The Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) is a non profit organization dedicated to Building Character Onstage™. While experiencing an exhilarating introduction to the incomparable magic of theatre, children develop a keen sense of citizenship in tandem with their artistic achievements. CTC promotes theatre as a tool for active and analytical thinking, combining collaborative performances directed by professional artists with an innovative character and ethical education curriculum. The emphasis is on a culture of inclusivity and service through the arts. Children’s Theatre is theatre by children for grown-ups – fostering in young performers a profound conviction that they are the voices of positive change in society. CTC serves hundreds of children a day through the public schools. The CTC Community Development Model is being implemented in a growing number of communities, resulting in many Satellite Productions such as in Boston, Maryland, Virginia and in Los Angeles, London, UK and Cape Town, South Africa. To learn more about CTC visit www.childrenstheatercompany.org

Our Mission

New New Era Creative Space is a charitable 501(c)3 non-profit organiza- tion and community-focused educational center. Our mission is to enrich the lives of children, youth, and families by assisting them to develop lifelong interests and skills through engagement in creative activities and educational programs.

Each February, NECS presents a new theatre production. Our children’s theatre program is dedicated to inspiring children and youth to become social agents by engaging with the magic of theatre. We maintain a commitment to develop in each child a keen sense moral leadership alongside their artistic achievements. Our productions attract roughly 600 audience members each year.

Rehearsal: Cast members meet from October through February on Saturdays to rehearse and learn the play. Emphasis is given to teamwork, respect, self discipline and having fun. We believe the process and journey is as important than the final product so we take the time to help our cast build bonds of friendship and community.

Performance: Performances typically take place in early February with 4 performances over two weekend. The entire community of staff, students and parents are part of the production team. CTC aims to build community by involving the families and community members who model community service to the participants.

Participation: our program is open to all children all. We will not turn down a child based on financial difficulties, so we fundraiser annually in order to provide scholarship. We also allow parents to set up payment plans and make a monthly payment.

Our Team

Natalie Arneson | Artistic Director

Natalie Arneson has been performing professionally since the age of fifteen. In New York she has appeared onstage with Playhouse Creatures, MCC, and the New York Musical Festival.  She graduated from the Guildford School of Acting in England. As a teaching artist, Natalie has worked with children in the arts for nearly 20 years. She ran Spotlight Performing Arts School in Manhattan, and many of her students were accepted to performing arts high schools, appeared in national television commercials, and  even performed off and on Broadway. She lives in Putnam Valley with her husband Kent and children Chloe, Julian, and Nikolai.

Kristy Boyd Filipowski | Artistic Director
Kristy holds a degree in Musical Theatre and a minor in Leadership Studies from Marietta College in Ohio, and another degree in Interior Design from the Art Institute of New York. She works as an Interior Designer at a small firm in Saddle River, NJ. Kristy first began working with children in a theatre setting when she was the Education Intern at the Pensacola Little Theatre in Pensacola, Florida. Since then it has been a passion of hers to work with children and teach and direct theatre. Kristy Has been part of the CTC Peekskill team since 2006.

Susan Cody | Music Director
When Susan Cody was a pre-schooler, her father’s barber shop quartet taught her their songs and she’s been singing and “doing music” ever since. She attended Ithaca College as a piano and voice major and has been teaching music from her home studio in Somers since 1979.  Her musical teaching experiences include private and class room, from birth to adult. She developed a course for school age children in the elements of music called “What’s That Sound” and has served as music director for the Children’s Theater Company of Peekskill since it’s inception. She also serves as director of the One World Youth Choir for NECS.

Leslie Fields-Cruz | Artistic Director
Searching for an opportunity to share her love of theater with her children, Leslie Fields-Cruz joined the staff of CTC in 2008 with her own kids in tow. Since then, Leslie eagerly looks forward to the fall season where she, Kristy, Susan, Eileen, Ridvan and CTC’s incredible community of children and parents create the magic that is theater. Leslie served as the Artistic Director of City Lights Youth Theater in NYC from 1998-2000, and spent years as an actor performing on stages in New York and Los Angeles. When she is not playmaking at CTC, Leslie spends her time funding and distributing documentary films that explore the cultures of African Americans and people of the African Diaspora. She is the Executive Director of the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), and produces the PBS series “AfroPOP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange”. Leslie lives in Cortlandt Manor with her musician husband Gerry Cruz, and their three daughters, Maya, Sumara, and Cierra.

Eileen Davis | Choreographer
Brooklyn born and bred, Eileen now resides in Croton on Hudson with her husband and two daughters. She moved to the scenic Hudson Valley in 2000 to raise her own ducklings. In addition to the study of theatre and dance, Eileen spent 10 years traveling the world as a dancer. She worked with the “Le Masquerade” entertainment company, which brought original and “Broadway” inspired performances to the audience. Eileen has also produced and choreographed many shows for the children in her local school district.

Pete Donnelly |Song Writer, Musician & Producer

Pete Donnelly is a New York-based songwriter, musician and producer. A dynamic and engaging performer whose songs are both poignant and light-hearted, Donnelly is a founding member of the Figgs, who have a worldwide fan base and a lengthy discography, and is also an honorary member of the legendary band NRBQ. Pete’s Music is built upon sturdy pop melodies, and played with a genuine sense of care, Donnelly’s songs are testaments to his artistry.

Equally adept in the studio as the stage, Donnelly has spent the better part of his life producing, engineering, and performing on hundreds of records by artists such as Shelby Lynne, Soul Asylum, John Legend, Graham Parker and a myriad of others. 

Ridvan Foxhall
CTC Peekskill Founder & Producer
Ridvan Foxhall is the founder and producer of the Peekskill Chapter of the Children’s Theatre Company. Ridvan also runs New Era Creative Space a creative educational center for children. Guided by the belief in the principle of the Oneness of Humanity, Ridvan is committed to promoting in young people the conviction that they can be the voices of change in the world. To this end, over the past 20 years she has taught, developed and produced programs for children that emphasize the moral and ethical component of education which is all to often missing in current educational programs. Ridvan is a pediatric occupational therapist. Originally from Nigeria, she currently resides in Peekskill NY with her husband and two children who are a constant source of inspiration.  She enjoys reading, dancing, playing tennis and hiking.

John Watson
Set Designer
John grew up in the beautiful Fingerlakes region of New York, but has long lived here in the more beautiful Hudson Valley, where he earns a living as a draftsman. John is also an artist and illustrator, a pleasure he hopes to turn into a vocation. In the past, he has contributed to the character education effort at the Children’s Theatre Company of Peekskill.  He enjoys gardening when he can find the time for it, reading, and the world of ideas. His life’s goal is to help save the world from its’ many troubles by contributing however he can to our awareness of the oneness of humanity.