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Families Will See Democracy in Action at Walnut Street Theatre for Kids' GRACE FOR PRESIDENT

January 16, 2020

PHILADELPHIA, PA: Kids of all ages will see democracy in action during the Walnut Street Theatre for Kids (WST for Kids) musical production of GRACE FOR PRESIDENT. From February 1 - 9, see the popular children’s book about a school’s mock election come to life on the historic Walnut stage!  

When Grace doesn’t see a female face on a poster of US presidents, she decides to be the president of her class at school. But she soon realizes that she has entered a tough race where being the best candidate doesn’t always mean being the most popular. GRACE FOR PRESIDENT is a fun introduction to the electoral system, and teaches the value of hard work, courage, and independent thought.

The book Grace for President was conceived after an editor’s preschool daughter asked why no women have ever been elected president. Written by Kelly Dipucchio and illustrated by LeUyen Pham, Grace for President was listed on The New York Times Best Seller list in 2008. Critics praised the book for putting democracy and the electoral college in easy-to-understand terms. By 2016, the popularity of Grace for President paved the way for an animated film that was narrated by Tony Award Winner Anika Noni Rose. That same year, a musical adaptation for the stage, GRACE FOR PRESIDENT, made its world premiere at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte with book, music and lyrics by Joan Cushing and original orchestrations by Debra Wicks LaPuma.

Fresh off his turn as the titular ogre in the Walnut’s production of Shrek The Musical, Nichalas L. Parker returns to direct GRACE FOR PRESIDENT. Parker’s directing credits at the Walnut include last season’s Goosebumps: Phantom of the Auditorium, as well as Freedom Riders as part of the Walnut’s Touring Outreach program. As an actor, he has been seen on the WST stage in Memphis, The Wizard of Oz, and Civil War Voices. When not performing, Parker is a teaching artist and uses his experiences on stage to instruct and inspire students all over the tri-state area.

“What I love about Grace for President is that it gives young girls, especially girls of color, a chance to see themselves on stage as leaders,” Parker said. “I am excited for this high-energy cast to tell this timely story.”

Walnut Street Theatre welcomes back Music and Vocal Director Matthew Mastronardi, who has enjoyed ten seasons with WST for Kids, on top of music directing and acting in WST productions of Civil War Voices, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, and Peter and the Starcatcher. Locally, Mastronardi has also worked with the Arden, Wilma, People’s Light, 11th Hour Theatre Company, and Act II Playhouse. Devon Sinclair brings his choreography to the WST stage for the first time. Like Parker, Sinclair is an alum of the Walnut’s acting apprentice program and is currently a teaching artist. A graduate of Penn State, Sinclair’s credits also include Philadelphia Artists’ Collective and UD Summer Stage.

Making her Walnut costume design debut is Carly Polizzi, one of two costume apprentices for WST’s 2019-2020 season. Polizzi is a recent graduate of Muhlenberg College where she designed for Love and the Law, Antigone, and The King in Yellow. Bringing Grace’s third grade classroom from page to stage is Scenic Designer Brian Froonjian. Froonjian is the technical director for the Walnut and most recently designed the sets for Fly Guy and A Christmas Carol. He has worked with The New Candlelight Theatre, Surflight Theatre, and The American Theater of Actors. Joining them are Lighting Designer Sasha Anistratova and Sound Designer Adam B. Orseck. Anistratova previously designed Pinkalicious, Fly Guy and A Christmas Carol, while Orseck is the head of sound for the Walnut and designed Aladdin Jr., Goosebumps, Pinkalicious, and The Little Mermaid Jr.

The actors portraying the students and teachers of Woodrow Wilson Elementary School are members of the Walnut Street Theatre School, many in their WST for Kids debut. Hallie Spencer Harmon will star as Grace Campbell in her first WST production. Harmon is a Harrisburg native and graduate of Arcadia University who recently performed in Disenchanted! with Carlisle Theatre Company. Dylan Collie will assume the role of Thomas Cobb, Grace’s opponent in the race for class president, while Hannah Catanoso will play both Mrs. Barrington and Clara. Also making their Walnut debuts are Anna Ferrigno and Keith Livingston, who will respectively play Rose/Mrs.Phillips and Robbie. Rounding out the cast are Hanna Gaffney as Anthony/Mr. Waller and Jacob Schrimpf as Sam. No stranger to WST for Kids, Schrimpf has previously performed in Fly Guy, Junie B. Jones, and Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude.

The Walnut Street Theatre for Kids series is celebrated for its commitment to encouraging parents and caregivers of all types to read with the children in their lives. Families can read together and discover a whole new level of imagination when they see the shows live onstage. The Walnut takes pride in bringing families together and fostering a creative conversation through reading and the arts.

GRACE FOR PRESIDENT is an ideal outing for all kids with weekend matinee performances February 1-2 and February 8-9, as well as weekday matinee performances February 6-7. The media sponsor is Courier Post. Tickets are $16 - $19 with group discounts available for groups of ten or more. For tickets and information, please call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets can also be purchased online at Ticketmaster or by visiting the Walnut’s website at


WHAT: Grace for President

Based on the book by Kelly S. Dipucchio

Book illustrations by LeUyen Pham

Book, Music and Lyrics by Joan Cushing

Original Orchestrations by Debra Wicks Lapuma

WHEN: February 1 - 9, 2020

WHERE: Walnut Street Theatre

825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

TICKETS: $16 - $19

CURTAIN: Saturday, February 1 at 10:30am, 1pm and 3:30pm

Sunday, February 2 at 11:00am

Thursday, February 6 at 10:30 am

Friday, February 7 at 10:30 am

Saturday, February 8 at 11 am

Sunday, February 9 at 11am

PHONE: 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787

WEBSITE: or Ticketmaster




Costume Design: CARLY POLIZZI


Sound Design: ADAM B. ORSECK

Stage Manager: MEGAN LAMPRON


Mrs. Barrington/Clara………….……..……….. HANNAH CATANOSO

Grace Campbell …………………………….…. HALLIE SPENCER HARMON

Robbie ………………………………..………... KEITH LIVINGSTON

Sam……….……………………………………. JACOB SCHRIMPF

Rose/Mrs. Phillips………...…………………… ANNA FERRIGNO

Anthony/Mr. Waller….………………………… HANNA GAFFNEY

Thomas Cobb…………………...…………….. DYLAN COLLIE