You may have seen 13-year-old Wilton resident Eli Foodman play “The Artful Dodger” in last spring’s Wilton Children’s Theater production of Oliver! Now, the Middlebrook 8th grader has been cast in a role that not only hits a little closer to home, but takes him on the road to help students at schools all around the Metropolitan area learn about the dangers of bullying.

Eli stars as the title character in The New Kid, a 55-minute musical about a group of students dealing with peer pressure, hazing, bullying, and the importance of staying true to oneself. The show is performed entirely by young actors ranging in age from 10- to 15-years-old, who will travel to local elementary and middle schools throughout the fall of 2018. It’s presented by The Random Farms Kids’ Theater.

“The goal of this program is to create an awareness about the dangers of bullying in a way that’s accessible to elementary and middle school students,” says Anya Wallach, Random Farms’ Executive Director. “Having kids perform for kids is tremendously advantageous because the audience can connect to the performers.”

The 2018 season of the tour features Eli in the role of the new kid, Zach.

“This is a much easier performance because it’s a person like me. I play Zach who’s a new kid in school and gets bullied. I’ve never been the new kid in school but I have other places. Also I have been bullied. So it’s easier to be a character that is much like me and who I can relate to,” he says.

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For Eli, finding his place on-stage has allowed him not only to help other kids through a role like this in The New Kid, but also to explore his own passion and thrive while doing something he loves–especially when the roles and experiences are different and varied.

“Different theater companies do things differently. Especially because they are different people in the production. I’ve done many different kinds of shows and each company I’ve been with is different. (In a good way.) That’s why I love to be on stage. Because every time I’m on stage, it’s different. Another reason is because the people I’m on the stage with are people my style, so I make friends easily and frequently when I’m at rehearsals,” he says.

The core themes of The New Kid are meant to help younger students identify and address issues of character development that will give them the strength later in life to deal with personal differences–no matter what they are.

“The key is to start educating kids before they get to high school, so they arrive armed with the tools to deal with bullying in any form,” Wallach explains.

Looking beyond even high school for Eli, he says he’ll continue acting.

“My goal in the future is to be a broadway actor. I’ve already started auditioning–and you never know. Maybe someday you’ll see me in a playbill.”

The New Kid was written for audiences in grades 2-6 and has been performed at over 100 area schools over the last six years. In February 2014, the cast traveled to the Bahamas to perform for more than 1,000 of their local students. Each performance includes a post-show Q&A with students, teachers, and the cast.

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Schools interested in booking the show can contact the Managing Director, Patrycja Warda, at patrycja@randomfarms.com or (917) 576-4144.