Celebrating our 5th Decade!

View the latest news articles and read what people are saying about Grumbling Gryphons!

Praise for Grumbling Gryphons' Workshops and Productions
Grumbling Gryphons Traveling Children's Theater
29 Lake Road, West Cornwall, CT 06796   •   860-672-0286




Abigail Sites, Education Programs Manager

Mattatuck Museum, May 2024

Grumbling Gryphons and each of their cast members truly made this show come alive for the kids at the Mattatuck Museum! Not only was the group accommodating, but they actively engaged and worked with children of all ages to make sure they were excited about and engaged with the show. Their sets are beautiful works of art, and the costumes for both actors and kids are masterpieces. Accompanied by a talented pianist, The Ghost Net was a great pairing with an exhibit on view at the Mattatuck Museum and offered a well-rounded and holistic approach to caring for our oceans and environments. We look forward to bringing Grumbling Gryphons back for another interactive performance soon!


     


Katherine Almquist, former Director of Admissions at The Marvelwood School

Noble Horizons, May 2024

There is a reason that Leslie Elias and her Grumbling Gryphons are still going strong after more than forty years: classics are always in vogue. Her production of "The Owl and the Pussycat" at Noble Horizons absolutely charmed the residents of Noble Horizons and their guests (who ranged from nine to ninety.) She and her actors had that audience in the palms of their collective hands and everyone left smiling. The timeless tale of true love resonates with all ages and is capable of triggering memories long buried. Leslie has many productions up her talented sleeves. Do yourself a favor and see the next one. And bring a friend, be that person nine or ninety.


Danielle Bailey, Director of Community Relations

Noble Horizons, May 2024

Having worked with senior and memory care residents for over 20 years at Noble Horizons, I know that intergenerational programs and theatrical performances are some of the most therapeutic programs we offer. The joy that children bring to our residents is indescribable, and the opportunity for our residents to observe as well as participate in the performing arts is another treasure. The Grumbling Gryphons offer both!


Seniors that once had a very busy and productive life may feel isolated and afraid of the outside world. On-site programs that offer an outlet from these stresses are invaluable. When the Grumbling Gryphons came here to perform for our residents it gave them opportunity to experience The Arts in the comfort of their own home and familiar surroundings.


The opportunities that The Grumbling Gryphons are proposing for our local community will not only benefit our population but will benefit the community that surrounds us no matter what age.


David Colbert, Sculptor

May 2024

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed and admired the show. To see all those old-folks so tuned in and stimulated by it all really speaks to the age-old power of your collective art!


Tina McGarry, Recreation Manager at Geer Lodge

Geer Village Senior Community, April 2024

The Residents at Geer Lodge as always enjoyed the poetry play performed by the Grumbling Gryphons. The music, costumes and performance were very engaging to our residents and staff. The actors captivated the whole room.


   


Kendra Percy, Children's Services

Scoville Memorial Library, April 2024

Everyone in the audience, children, grandparents, library staff, drop-in patrons are glued to the enigmatic performances of the whole Grumbling Gryphons cast. I personally end up singing the songs and rhymes to my story time friends for weeks, even years after a show at the library. It's a completely unique experience oozing oxytocin fuzzy feels. Leslie Elias brings communities together like no one else! e


Judith Auchincloss, Grandmother of a Participant

March 2024

A few weeks ago I took my 8 and half year old grandson to the forum to hear you talk about the Grumbling Gryphons. He loved it and was a willing participant. The short video about The Owl and the Pussycat was charming with you and your mother. We are definitely coming to other events and really look forward your creativity and magic!


Margaret D. Goodhouse, JD, President of Women’s Forum Board

Women’s Forum of Litchfield, March 2024

You were wonderful to work with and your "show" was fascinating! Thanks so much Leslie!


Dakota, 8 Year Old Participant

March 2024

Dakota loved being a part of the Grumbling Gryphons! Attached is a picture Dakota drew for you! “I had the best time with Grumbling Gryphons! Leslie was so nice and now I can’t wait to do it again! Dakota (8 yrs old) March 11th, 2024



Ashley Davis, Parent Enrichment Coordinator

Bardonia Elementary School, February 2024

My two kids had a great time during the Anansi performance. Their monkey, elephant, and hippopotamus masks are on display at our house and they came home singing some of the songs. Thanks again for all that you did to make this workshop and performance happen.


April Jones, Children's Services Librarian

Burlington, CT Public Library, February 2024

Leslie and her troupe of accomplished actors kept our audience of kiddos from preschool to tween and their families enraptured by the story of Anansi the Trickster Spider. Audience members loved having the chance to interact with the characters and help tell the story.


       


Samantha Morosani, Parent

Rumsey Hall School & Summer Theater Camp

Leslie is so passionate about the work she does. My daughter loves learning with The Grumbling Gryphons because she is given space to be fully self expressed and creative and is inspired by Leslie’s style and imagination.


   


Tiffany Frisenda, Art Teacher & Coordinator/Facilitator

CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering Elementary School, November 2023

Grumbling Gryphons exceeded our expectations with an engaging show and gorgeous costumes. We especially appreciated how culturally sensitive and well researched their Trickster Tale show was. The children squealed with delight when I told them we would be having Grumbling Gryphons back and begged to be a part of the show next time! We will definitely be having them back! Thank you for all you do Leslie!



Lesley Lema, Children's Program Coordinator | English/Español

Danbury Library, November 2023

The Grumbling Gryphons were truly great in their rendition of Trickster Coyote Shares The Fire: A Plains Indian Tale! Their performance was very interactive, engaging and fun. As well as educational and informative in a manner appealing to a wide ranging audience, not just children. I highly recommend them and would love to have them back again at the Danbury Library!



Whitney May, Parent of a 2023 Theater Camper

October 2023

Our daughter had nothing short of a magical experience with the Grumbling Gryphons' this summer. In just one short week, she learned how to work together as a team to put up the full-length, extremely delightful and very funny play, "The Mixed Up Fairytale." Our daughter especially loved the opportunity to work with children of a wide range of ages--the older, more experienced campers providing her with both inspiration and encouragement, and the younger, less experienced friends offering her the chance to support and encourage them in turn.


Our daughter loved the chance to perform at the beautiful stage at Cornwall Town Hall, but what I think she will cherish most about her experience is the warm, caring, and joyful environment created by Leslie during each rehearsal day. Leslie's work with children is so special because she clearly loves and respects each child. She is always ready and willing to listen to the ideas that the children might have about their character, the play, or the production as a whole. Rather than just asking them to memorize lines and deliver them, Leslie instead consults the children throughout the production process, very likely fostering and encouraging a number of future directors (as well as actors) in the process. In the world of children's theater, this aspect of Leslie's teaching and directorial style is unique, and serves to provide the children with a wonderful sense of empowerment. Needless to say, we can't wait to see what productions and workshops Leslie comes up with next for her wonderful community, and we will certainly be among the first to sign our oh so eager 8-year-old up!"


Liz Raum, Director of Events

The Stissing Center, August 2023

The Stissing Center thoroughly enjoyed having the Grumbling Gryphons perform for our summer children's series. GG were easy to work with and handled the audience so that the children in the audience were fully engaged throughout the show. We highly recommended GG and would happily have them back at our venue.


Michele Klimczak, Marine Debris Coordinator

Fishers Island Conservancy, August 2023

Thank you so very much for your outstanding interactive performance at the Fishers Island Movie Theater on August 12, 2023. The kids loved being a part of the play and learning about how they can help save our oceans and animals from the Ghost Net and trash washing up on our shores. The music, costumes, stage sets, actors and the play were all so well done as well as our communication prior to the show! Thank you as well for repurposing the marine trash banner I created on our marquis with the trash debris that has washed up on Fishers Island!


Mary Jean Liberatore, audience participant

Middleboro Public Library, August 2023

I thought Leslie was fabulous in how she brought everyone together, The community involvement was great.


I have always loved theater and was thrilled to see this opportunity in Middleboro. It is so important to expose children to the sights and sounds and stories that are told on stage!!


Read Mary Jean's full testimonial letter!


Chris Mulvey, parent

Middleboro Public Library, August 2023

The Grumbling Gryphons provide wonderful family entertainment, and we couldn't more strongly endorse this show for young families. It is engaging, fun, captivating and unique. Our 3 young boys loved the show. Our 7 year old sang along, our 5 year old loved the vibrant costumes and our 2 year old sat entranced through the entire performance. Great fun for the entire family.



Linda Donald, audience member

Middleboro Public Library, August 2023

If you’re lucky enough to have Grumbling Gryphons Traveling Children’s Theater visit your town, hop, skip and jump to see this delightful interactive troupe perform. I recently saw Anansi -The Trickster Spider at the Middleborough Town Hall while vacationing near Cape Cod. Leslie Elias was a tour de force playing multiple roles and the talented Daniel Saed kept this African folk tale spinning as the eponymous Anansi , while his twin brother ,Arieh Saed , provided musical accompaniment. Stunning masks and costumes by Ellen Moon made the entire production visually exciting. In a pre show workshop , Leslie and Dan deftly wove a large group of children and a few intrepid adults, myself included, into the performance , teaching us songs, chants , sign language, monkey business and how to bee. Participating in Anansi - The Trickster Spider not only enhanced the experience for the children on stage, but also, for all the parents , siblings and community members in the audience . Believe me, the place was buzzing with excitement and I ain’t lion!


Stewart Wilson, audience member

Middleboro Public Library, August 2023

Our family had a wonderful time at the performance of Anansi the Trickster Spider. Thank you so much for presenting such a delightful and adventuresome experience as The Grumbling Gryphons. The three children in our party continue to sing the songs and use sign language. After the show, Leslie was full of encouragement for the young performers and graciously took the time to show them costumes and masks. Seeing Anansi was a highlight of our vacation!


Hazel Leandres, performer

Middleboro Public Library, August 2023

I love how it is audience interactive. It has a wide range of ages where parts are centered around a certain group of kids.


Carolyn Warner, grandmother of theater campers

Grumbling Gryphons Theater Camp, July 2023

The performance was remarkable. I can’t believe the kids accomplished so much in just one week. Can’t wait to see what they do next year!


Shamain McAllister, Community Impact Manager

International Festival of Arts & Ideas, June 2023

On behalf of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, it was an absolute pleasure to have Grumbling Gryphons be a part of this year’s Festival. They brought such joy and light to our audience. Continue to stay great and let your light shine bright!


Melissa Huber, Director of Artistic Planning & Operations

International Festival of Arts & Ideas, June 2023

Thank you for bringing The Ghost Net to the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. Environmental care is such an important theme to communicate to even our youngest audiences. Even though The Ghost Net doesn’t shy away from the scarier aspects of neglect, the show also demonstrated resilience, cooperation and how even modest choices for change can have impact. Your staff and performers were wonderful to work with and the kids in attendance had a great time becoming part of the show. We greatly appreciated Grumbling Gryphons’ adaptability to our outdoor performance venue…on the New Haven Green.



Betsy Glassman, Teacher & Environmentalist

Litchfield, CT, June 2023

The Ghost Net is so good that when the play was over, I turned to my friend and proclaimed, "That should go Off Broadway!" The costumes, acting, music and getting school children into the act ---all are fun, engaging and professionally executed within a serious message about ocean plastics, oil spills and miles-long nets that entangle ocean creatures. The Ghost Net is a great way for children to learn about our ocean environment and the damage humans are doing; smart educators will find the play an effective vehicle for stimulating discussion concerning possible solutions to the crisis in our oceans.


Luisa Wilson, Music Teacher

Essex Elementary School, June 2023

We enjoyed your performance very much! The students loved your set, costumes and props, it was all very engaging.Thank you so much for coming to our school.


Kendra Percy, Children's Services

Scoville Memorial Library, June 2023

Leslie Elias and Danny Saed of the Grumbling Gryphons never cease to amaze us and our library patrons. The latest program that they brought to our library, "Through the rainbow and into the stars," was a drama workshop in the art of improvisation. The way they draw in and engage children of all ages and their families is a delight to witness. There is not a single hand that remains at a child's side when there is a request for a volunteer, and there are always magnificent costumes for everyone participating. Leslie, forever IN THE MOMENT, works with kids and their particular energy to create a spectacular experience for all. Already looking forward to the next opportunity to have them at the library!



Breetel Graves - Parent

Growing Wings Camp 2023

"Thanks again for a great week, the kids had a really wonderful time and we’re all still singing the songs we learned."


   


Fran Chapelle - Director and Christine Santaro - Assistant Teacher

Canaan Child Care Center, North Canaan, CT

On April 10, 2023, the Grumbling Gryphons came to our center to present their play, Anansi-The Trickster Spider. Here at the Canaan Child Care Center, we teach children ages three to five years old. Our children really enjoyed the show. I think their favorite part was when they were included in the play and invited up on stage to help perform it. Many of our friends got to be a part of the play as bees. They really thought they were the stars of the show! Thank you for a great performance and fun time!


Melissa Koster, Instructional Coach

Reggio Magnet School of the Arts, April 2023

Dear Leslie and the Grumbling Gryphons,

Our Kindergarten through 5th grade students absolutely loved the performance of The Ghost Net: An Environmental Musical of the Sea! The music, the costumes and the storyline were all so engaging and FUN. Students loved how interactive the show was and had a blast singing and dancing along. One student was overheard saying, “This was the best day of my life!”. Thank you, thank you, thank you for providing our students with this amazing experience!



Emily Keeney, PTO Member

Long Meadow Elementary, March 2023

Thank you so much for the wonderful performance at Long Meadow Elementary School. The students absolutely loved it and I loved hearing so many kids singing Anansi the Spider song after your visit. Many parents said their children were signing all weekend following your show including at a birthday party. The story and folktales were meaningful, fun and kept their attention. The colorful costumes and backdrops were awesome! I loved that the school administration played a part in the performance. Truly a great experience for the students!!


Katherine Trouern-Trend, Youth and Family Outreach Services Librarian

Hartford Public Library, December 2022

An amazing production whose artistry will stay with you and make you smile long after the performance. Stunning visuals, engaging audience participation, a rich tapestry of Native American storytelling, folklore and culture. Unforgettable!


Tina McGarry, Recreation Manager at Geer Lodge

Geer Village Senior Community, December 2022

We had the pleasure of having the Grumbling Gryphons present an excellent workshop at Geer Lodge on November 7th. The residents loved the interaction with the performers. They also enjoyed learning sign language and the amazing costumes. Leslie, Daniel and Micah did an exceptional job with the whole program. It was enjoyed by all of us.


Kathryn Anderson, Children's Literacy Coordinator

Millbrook Library, December 2022

Millbrook Arts Group and Millbrook Library teamed up with The Grumbling Gryphons to bring the troupe's Anansi, The Trickster Spider show to Millbrook Library. It was truly an amazing collaboration from start to finish! Leslie was delightful to plan and brainstorm with, very easy to reach, and even let us know when she might have a small delay in response due to travel.


The sets and costumes and show were all incredible and Leslie and the actors & crew themselves were the absolute best- talented, wonderful people that I feel it was an honor to have had an afternoon to be around and get to know a bit.


Children and families had so much fun with the interactive show and would stop and talk with the actors afterwards. The children would gather around them with gleaming eyes and an excited fidgety manner- it was clear that an impactful and fun time was had by all!


Millbrook Arts Group and Millbrook Library are working out the details to invite The Grumbling Gryphons back for another show- it was so good- we can't wait!!!


Thank you Leslie and The Grumbling Gryphons Team!


Devin Boyden, Board Member and Treasurer

Falls Village Children’s Theater, November 2022

Leslie Elias brought her troupe-The Grumbling Gryphons to perform at the Center on Main home of the Falls Village Children’s Theater over the summer. They performed The Myth of Persephone with ASL interpretation. The story was magical and brought to life by the children and adults who performed together with the addition of sign language. The handmade sets and costumes added to the charm. It was a pleasure teaming up to bring children’s theater to our community. We look forward to working with Grumbling Gryphons again.


Matthew DeLong, Arts Director

The Glenholme School, November 2022

the Glenholme School was delighted to host a workshop provided by Leslie Elias and Daniel Saed of The Grumbling Gryphons! This acting troupe presented a one-hour program to a group of our students on storytelling, improvisation and American Sign Language (ASL). Our students were eager participants who were able to learn and perform small segments from a play called “The Myth of Persephone”. In addition to being able to practice and perform this material, our students all performed personal introductions of themselves which included ASL, a gesture and a personality trait. It was a nice afternoon and the Glenholme school is grateful to have been included in this workshop opportunity with Leslie, Daniel and Grumbling Gryphons!


     


Nora Baghat, Dean of Culture

Achievement First Hartford Elementary Academy, November 2022

Thank you so much for your time, flexibility and wonderful performance. We hope you had as much fun with us as we did with you and your team! We had a blast watching you and our kiddos perform. We are so thankful that we had an opportunity for our scholars to experience a story that aligns directly to Native American Heritage and the stories they have told for hundreds of years. This was our first experience in years where we were able to have an outside vendor perform for our scholars.


We are a school that always strives for Leading for Racial Equity. As we are planning these events, it is incredibly important to the Student Experience Team that we provide educational and culturally appropriate experiences for our scholars. Our planning process for these events is a mutli-layered approach that includes research, interviews, and a lot of times connecting to people who directly represent the culture/topic that we are educating on. In this instance, our research and interviews centered around how to submerge our scholars into the world of American Indian culture in a developmentally appropriate setting. When connecting with our outside vendors a theme of story-telling emerged and we loved this vein for our school experience as it was easily tailored to meet our needs as a school.


When choosing our vendor, we asked questions relating to the vendor’s ability to be a credible messenger in these spaces. They were able to talk through how they first became interested which led to education and cultural submersion. Each performer talked through the process they went through to receive rights to tell these stories from stakeholders in Native American communities across the nation.


I am incredibly grateful to you and your team for bringing this experience to our scholars! It was a pleasure!


Thank you,
- Nora Baghat



Doe Boyle, Teaching Artist

Whitfield’s WelcomeFest, September 2022

Leslie Elias and all of the players of her Grumbling Gryphons children's theater company bring joy and energy to the stage at every performance! The original music, lyrics, scripts, sets, and costumes are accessible and appropriate for young listeners and learners--and delightful as well to their teachers and caregivers. Her show, Anansi the Trickster Spider, is excellent among her outstanding productions, all of which joyfully embrace and creatively engage the hearts and imaginations of the whole audience.


     


Bina Williams MLS

North Branch Library, August 2022

North Branch Library had the Grumbling Gryphons Traveling Children's Theater come do a workshop and performance of Anansi the Trickster Spider, a folktale from West Africa.


For the first hour-long workshop, Leslie Elias and Daniel Saed ran through much of the show teaching the kids (and their grownups) songs using some sign, and setting up scenes where the kids would be involved. We took a 1/2 hour break and then the show was on!


Leslie and Daniel were joined by a pianist, a guitarist and a percussionist. A festive background set the scene. A couple of us were invited to be in the opening scene. (I was the zebra.) We were complaining about the tricks that Anansi had played on us. As the story developed, the children were part of the fun--two were part of a snake, and then most were bees! They loved being part of the show!


The show was full of joy, magnificent costumes and masks, music, and humor. (Every bee joke was there...or are there more?) The performance part was about an hour also.


Grumbling Gryphons has a number of folklore mythology based programs. Their newest one is The Myth of Persephone and includes sign language throughout. (Case Memorial had them do this show--ask them how it was!)


A mother and her daughter came in to the library yesterday. The daughter (whose first language is not English) has been singing "Anansi... he is a spider!" The daughter is 4 and was one of the bees!


I am sure we will invite the Gryphons back! We loved them!



Dic Wheeler, Artistic Director

Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater, May 2022

We really enjoyed hosting the Grumbling Gryphons dual language version of The Myth of Persephone at Oddfellows this spring. The young people who participated learned a lot - both about performance and American Sign Language - and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of performing with the company as the Greek Chorus. This is a great residency and performance opportunity for elementary and middle school students! Clever, fun, imaginative and educational! Efraisto!


Roxanne Rideout, M.Ed., Grade 4 Teacher

Parkville Community School, May 2022

The kids really enjoyed the day -- especially the performance! It was fantastic!!! Having ASL as part of the preparation and performance made it especially wonderful!!! I have always wanted to learn sign language but seem to never have. It was easier because we had something to connect it to and the children loved that, too! What a great team you all make!


Kendra Percy Children's Services

Scoville Memorial Library, April 2022

Leslie! It was pure, powerful, storytelling magic. You had the entire crowd engaged.


Katherine Almquist, Actress, Director, March 2022

My dear Leslie,

Once again, you outdid yourself! Superb production. The songs, the music, the costumes, Danny and YOU were FANTASTIC! I watched the faces of the children and they were completely mesmerized.


I look forward to Grumbling Gryphons Theater Camp in July!


Lots of love and thanks,


Katherine Almquist,
Actress, Director
Sharon, CT


Jeannine Cooper, Forman School, March 2022

Forman School, Winterim 2022, at Grumbling Gryphons Studio -
We signed up to do Persephone with ASL. The students started the session out by learning about Greek Mythology and how the play evolved from that. The students practiced American Sign Language to use in the play. The students with direction from Leslie, Maureen and Leslie's son Danny were able to perform an adaptive version of the play. The students all enjoyed learning a new craft.


Jeannine Cooper
Perspectives in Learning I & II Faculty
Assistant Coach Varsity Girls' Tennis


Forman student's response to the workshop, "Thank you so much for having us over for the acting workshop. It was a lot of fun and we all enjoyed it and all the humor that came out of it."


Nicole Cotoia, English Language Resource Teacher

Farmington Public Schools, March 2022

The "Anansi the Trickster Spider" performance put on by the Grumbling Gryphon's Children's Theater was excellent! Students were engaged through storytelling, singing, audience participation, and costumes. We look forward to having them back!


Thanks for everything, Leslie! It was a great performance - enjoyed by all!


     


Kendra Percy Children's Services

Scoville Memorial Library, February 2022

To all whom it concerns:


Leslie Elias is a force of nature! She arrived puntctually on a frigid-cold, delayed-opening due to weather conditions, Saturday morning at the library to kick-off a monthly storytelling tradition. We weren't certain there would be much of a crowd due to the extreme cold, but she drew patrons into the great outdoors to gather round the fire and participate in her telling of Trickster Coyote Shares the Fire. Patrons of all ages, young and adult dawned costumes and recited lines queued by Leslie, and together kindled curiosity and constructed the tale.


One young patron, who participates in storytime, where I read to children from books, commented, "this human kind of storytelling is waaaaaaaaay better!" Seeing families come together, share stories, and participate in the telling of them, was exactly the desired outcome. Leslie was crucial to the success of this event and the ones to come. With a kick-off like that, I can only imagine how many more people will come once the weather warms.


With Kindness,


Kendra Percy
Children's Servicse Coordinator


Drawing from West District School children responding to the performance.


From Jessie DePonte, August 17th, 2021

To Whom it May Concern,


My name is Jessie DePonte and I am the Executive Director at the Coalition for a Better Wallingford. I am writing on behalf of the Grumbling Gryphons, a wonderful traveling children’s theater that performed for one of our Coalition Events.


The Coalition for a Better Wallingford is a nonprofit organization that works Wallingford families to help produce healthy, caring, and responsible citizens by raising awareness and reducing substance abuse among youth. In one of our summer events, we reached out to Grumbling Gryphons as out main act fell through at the last minute. Leslie responded right away, provided me with options for different shows at various fair price points, and was extremely communicative.


The show was wonderfully performed and extremely engaging for the children. Both Leslie and Danny were interactive, and the children really responded to them. We will be having the Grumbling Gryphons back for future events!


Sincerely,


Jessie DePonte


From Matthew Short, Audience Member, Kent, CT

We had been in Cornwall Bridge visiting family for only a few hours when it became clear that the place to be that evening as the heat finally receded would be seated in attendance at a performance of Saint George and The Dragon. This was the week before we would be moving here permanently, so a distraction from the hustle and bustle of packing, ensuring school enrollments were in place, etc., was more than welcome.

The performance was being held at the estate of the director, Leslie Elias, who oversees the Grumbling Gryphons and had run the Theater Arts Camp which produced the evening’s entertainment.

One of the first things I thought about as I sat down was how much fun the children were having. They were running around getting last minute costume help, rehearsing lines they might have been struggling with, and otherwise being completely at home. It was clear the week had been very good for them, and it was immediately reflected on the faces of my two children. “Can I do this, too?”, my youngest asked without hesitation.

The play began, the audience quieted, and we were all treated to children of all ages performing. The same engagement I saw as they got ready poured out into their acting. While some are only at the beginning of their journey they all showed promise on the stage (and the steps, and the lawn, it was a really great use of the space).

The play surprised me with its length, not in the sense that it ran on and on but instead in the sense that so much was accomplished in so little time. For the children to have put this together in less than a week was no small feat, I was simply blown away.

The show was accompanied by many talented musicians from different groups, and was followed up with a parade featuring “The Golden Lady”, a tremendous towering costume. Once the parade finished there were refreshments and socializing while the band continued to play.

It was here that the emotional impact of the night crept in. I felt like I was in a place filled with love: love for the arts, love for the community, and love for the children. I hadn’t felt that in such a long time. My brother-in-law noticed I was affected by everything, and asked if I was enjoying “the vibe”. I was, so very much. I finally felt at home.


From Peg Keskinen, Audience Member, West Cornwall, CT

Recently I had the pure pleasure of attending a production of Leslie Elias’s Grumbling Gryphons Traveling Children’s Theater, “The Snow Queen.” Replete with goblins, dancing snow flakes, adorable polar bears, flowers, ravens, princes and princesses, robbers, frogs, bats, doves — you get the idea!... Creativity, joy and theater magic were everywhere to be seen and felt in this happy performance. What fun!

Leslie Elias was the 2018 winner of the CT Governor’s Arts Award as well as the NW CT Arts Council Award for Arts Education. Next year will be her fortieth (40th!) year as Director, founder, and guiding creative spirit of the wonderful Grumbling Gryphons — an achievement to honor and a milestone to celebrate! Congratulations, Leslie!



From Leslie Meltzer, Ramsdell Library, Housatonic, Massachussetts, Fall 2018

"Grumbling Gryphons presented the play, "Trickster Coyote Shares the Fire" at Ramsdell Public Library this fall. (2018) However, rather than grumbling, there was plenty of clapping, occasionally howling, and much laughing. Leslie Elias wrote, staged, directed, and acted in her participatory play for children and families. With Leslie's enthusiastic encouragement, children from the audience eagerly joined the actors on stage in dancing, yowling and chanting to the beating of a drum.Johnny Segalla's performance as the Trickster Coyote stood out as a funny, sympathetic characterization of a Native American mythical creature.The children who played the flames and the tree were exemplary, and the whole ensemble-production radiated warmth, laughter, and fun. We are so grateful to Leslie and her wonderful Gryphons for such a heart-warming show."






From Kent Memorial Library, Connecticut, April, 2018

“We loved having the Grumbling Gryphons share their talents with us at Kent Memorial Library. Their show was full of energy and the audience and participants had a blast! The music and sets were all top-notch. What a great troupe with a fabulous message!"

-Sarah Marshall, Director, Kent Memorial Library


Kent Memorial Library

From Mill River in Stamford, Connecticut, February 10, 2018

"Next time Grumbling Gryphons, a theatre company for children of all ages, is in your area, run to see them. I smiled through the entire performance of Anansi the Trickster Spider at the Mill River Carousel pavilion in Stamford, CT, February 10. The energy, imagination, costumes and acting dazzled and engaged the entire audience. Actress Leslie Elias is the multi-talented co-founder and artistic director of Grumbling Gryphons."

-Linda E Simon


From Betances School in Hartford, April 6, 2016

"It was great. The kids had a great time. You guys were wonderful.. "

6th Grade Teacher-Juan Gonzalez at Betances School in Hartford, CT

From Cornwall Consolidated School Students

Our 2nd, 6th, and 7th graders were drawn into the production of Persephone by the engaging and persistently encouraging cast of the Grumbling Gryphons. Our students learned about Greek theater, performed without inhibition, and had a blast!


From Cornwall Consolidated School Teachers

Hi Leslie,
I meant to write to you that night, since I didn't see you after the show. What a spectacular performance!! The kids had a great time, and I especially enjoyed how you engaged all of the audience, from the youngest kindergarteners to 8th graders to adults, teaching all of us Greek and sign language along with Greek mythology. You are an amazing storyteller and teacher, Leslie! Thank you so much for bringing your expertise, drama, and rich cultural experience to our children. We are so lucky to have you in our community!!


Joyce Samson
2nd Grade Teacher
Cornwall Consolidated School

Letter from Ellsworth Avenue School

Ellsworth Avenue School Letter

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Republican American 1/28/13

 


Article from The Register Citizen newspaper, Torrington, Connecticut

 

Register Citizen

 


Article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette 

 

Special thanks to the Daily Hampshire Gazette for this article on the Grumbling Gryphons performance at the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts on December 14. Click on the image to read the entire article and photos from The Magic Dreidel: A Chanukah Celebration for the Whole Family! 



Spiders, Bees, Hippos, Elephants: Local Students Participate In Interactive Theater - Read the article from the Hartford Courant here.

 

I am in my second year coordinating a summer school program at the school where I currently teach, CREC Discovery Academy.  I wanted a theater experience for the children and found Leslie Elias and her traveling theater group The Grumbling Gryphons off the HOT Schools Teaching Artists website.   They did an outstanding job which included pre-performance mask making and theater workshops as well as an interactive performance replete with music, amazing costumes and set designs.  It was a fantastic experience for the students, their families and the staff.

Lisa Smith-Horn
Summer Director 
CREC Discovery Academy
Hartford, CT

 

Letter received July 11, 2013 from Reggio Magnet School of the Arts

Reggio Magnet School

Hi Leslie,

I wanted to let you know how wonderful the “Myth of Persephone” was at Monument Valley Middle School . It was amazing to see the high level of professionalism and enthusiasm that the entire crew brought to the school. I continue to marvel that you could involve 300 students in a production AND perform it all in a single day. The story was clever and engaging, and the set and music were all that was needed to create the mythical world of ancient Greece .

Of special interest to me was the modeling of art as a creative and engaging process. The students all had a hand in it as the presentation was created in their midst. It is so good for them to see passion, courage, and imagination pouring out before them, and for them to participate in it. I know it was an example for all of the teachers as well. In some of what we do at school, there can be a level of constraint, tedium, and loss of initiative. Your entire process demonstrates another way to tackle the work. Thank you for all that you did.

Nick VanSant-Science Teacher
Monument Valley Reg. Middle School
Great Barrington, MA - Oct. 2010

Dear Grumbling Gryphons,

Thank you so much for coming to our school. You are not only talented actors, but effective teachers as well! Our students very much enjoyed the workshops and the show. They learned a great deal about how people impact the earth, but as a bonus, you made us all feel an emotional connection to the animal characters that were affected by pollution. I’m asking out PTA Cultural Arts Committee to book you again for next year! I look forward to working with you again!

Cathy McElroy - Second Grade Teacher
Six To Six Magnet School / May 2010

 

The Connecticut Governor’s Arts Award

"Recently I traveled to Connecticut to spend half a day interviewing Leslie Elias, Artistic Director of Grumbling Gryphons, and a full day at an elementary school where the Gryphons were doing a residency and performance. I did so because the Gryphons are known nationally for their innovation and leadership in the field of arts for children, and, as a publisher in this field, I wanted to be able to communicate their work to theaters and artists across the country. Their work is described in both our newsletter, Notes for Children’s Theatre, and in the book Participation Theatre for Young Audiences, published by New Plays and frequently used as a text by college and university classes in theater in education.

I am impressed by the energy, enthusiasm, and talent of the actors and their director and the artistic integrity they bring to their work. They nurture the creativity of the children and teachers in Connecticut with whom they work, and inspire them to use their imagination and talents. Their use of visual arts such as masks and puppetry, music, myth and literature, in combination with their commitment to the protection of our environmental resources, especially the Connecticut shoreline, are accomplishments well worthy of recognition by the Connecticut Commission on the Arts."

Patricia Whitton Forrest,
Publisher, New Plays Inc.

 

The Ghost Net: An Environmental Musical of the Sea

I am a PTA representative for the Cutural Arts program at Pohatcong School in Pohatcong, N.J.. On January 19, 2010 we had the Grumbling Gryphons come to our school and work with the children on a production having to do with the ocean to kick off our school's MARE month, when they learn all about the ocean. The Grumbling Gryphons were just what we needed to get them excited. They are very professional people with a lot of very good information to present to the children as well as having fun with them while they are learning their parts. Each of the classes represented something in the ocean and then were a part in a play they put on at the end of the day. The children and the teachers thought that it was great to be so interactive. We hope to work with them again in the future.

Michelle Zurine
PTA, Pohatcong, NJ

 

My six year old daughter, Emma, and I had the pleasure of participating in your show, The Ghost Net, at the CT Science Center today. WOW! We had a fantastic time! What a powerful story with an extremely important message. Your method of educating is so engaging. We LOVED it. Also, costumes, props, actors, music-all were phenomenal! Thank you for an unforgettable experience. I can't wait to enroll Emma in your summer camp.

Please forward info on how to get you to perform at Emma's elementary school.

Michele Zychowski

 

Enrichment Committeee organizer, Nancy Maurice Rogers, at Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School in Stockbridge, Massachusetts brought in Grumbling Gryphons Traveling Children's Theatre for 2 consecutive years. Ghost Net was the chosen program for this pre K-4 school. All 300 students at Muddy Brook School participated in workshops scheduled throughout the day. The days' events were led by the incomparable Founder and Director of Grumbling Gryphons, Leslie Elias and assisted by her troupe of actors. The workshops completely engaged the students throughout the acting processes and the creation of the props. By the time the performance arrived, both the students and the actors had developed rapports that readied them for their stage debuts together. The students were transformed through this theatrical opportunity by knowing that they could become an integral part of the day. Leslie Elias is a true seasoned, theatrical professional and teacher. She skillfully works with administrators and teachers at the school to get everyone involved in a creative and respectful manner that is true to all. We are poised to bring Grumbling Gryphons back to Muddy Brook School as well as to bring them to Monument Valley Middle School with Persephone.

Nancy Maurice Rogers
Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School
Stockbridge, MA

 

FANTASTIC, FANTASTIC, WONDERFUL, EDUCATIONAL! WOULD HAVE YOU BACK ANYTIME.

Dr. Kathleen Fitzgibbons, Principal, June 1994
Mile Creek School, Old Lyme, CT

 

I have never seen a performance which held all of our students' interest so well! Not only did you entertain the youngsters; you aptly demonstrated how fragile the sea is...

Ann C. Petro, Principal, June 1994
Sunnyside School, Shelton, CT

 

..a phenomenal production! The best we have ever had in our school. If this show doesn't give a message to our children and all human beings, nothing will...Acting, music, singing and costuming superb! If on a stage with proper lighting, would definitely be a NEW YORK production.

Addie Coppola, Teacher, June 1994
Chatfield School, Seymour, CT

 

We have had many productions companies at Davis, but none have been as professional and original...Your interactive weaving of the children into the story was truly remarkable--particularly considering you were working with 130 Fifth Graders!

Carol Kelly, District Kaleidoscope Program, May 1994
Davis Elementary School, New Rochelle, NY

 

Everything from the exquisite costumes, to the great live music, acting and the important environmental message really captured the attention of all the children K-4...Your show inspired many children to check out books from the library about our oceans...

Dina Pomeranz, 2nd grade teacher, May 1994
JFK Magnet School, Portchester, NY

 

This was truly an activity in which all the audience got involved, had a wonderful time and learned an important message. The creativity and thought that goes into such a production is truly outstanding...I can't tell you how many students and staff came up to me on the afternoon requesting that we have the The Grumbling Gryphons back.

Rich Frank, Principal, April 1994
Anna M. Reynolds School, Newington, CT

 

Terrific program!...We promote hands-on, participatory education and this production was an exemplary type of experience which actively involved the children from beginning to end.

Linda Corbett, Principal & Arnold Sadoff, Assistant Principal, March 1994
Lincoln Heights International Studies Academic Center, Charlotte, NC

 

Your ability to adapt your presentation to the interest level and understanding of Kindergarten students through grade 9 students over the four performances and numerous workshops is a tribute to your talents. Beyond that, however, it speaks to your keen interest in increasing our awareness of and sensitivity to important ecological issues.

Paul Carolan, Junior High Principal, April 1992
The Brooklyn School, Brooklyn CT

 

I was impressed with the painstaking detail in your sets, costumes and of course, your script. As a marine biologist, it is most important to me that the information you are passing along is accurate. It was.

Barbara Whitman, Director, June 1990
Terramar Marine Biology Programs, Monroe, CT

 

Trickster Tales: Native American Animal Legends

The Grumbling Gryphons are energetic, engaging and enthusiastic!...Their talents were able to elicit excitement and dramatic expression from all in the audience. The dramatizations proved to be appropriate for our kindergarten through fifth graders alike. I highly recommend your programs as a unique and impressive learning opportunity for children. I now our children have had a powerful experience that will be long-lasting!

Linda Abram, President, Home & School Association, January 1994
Gwyn-Nor Elementary School, North Wales, PA

 

You've done it again! Your performance was superb...The beauty and the wisdom of the Native American philosophy was expressed by a group of very talented performers...All the performances of the Grumbling Gryphons are truly examples of 'Hands on Education' at its best. Your company understands child development, and knows how to teach and reach children...We wish that all of our cultural arts performances were as superior in quality as your wonderful children's theater.

Mona London, 1st grade teacher & Cultural Arts Chairperson, Nov. 1993
Deasy School, Glen Cove, NY

 

The students...were very excited to be involved in the performance with their props and costumes... [The teachers] thought the complete audience participation made the experience much more personal and effective for everyone.

Carol Carson, Andrea Kirshoff, Carol Richards, Assembly Committee, December 1993
Pequenakonck Elementary School, North Salem, NY

 

It was fascinating to watch the children come alive during your workshops as you used theater techniques to introduce them to the tales, beliefs and culture of our Native Americans. They were enthralled with the costumes and masks and loved participating in the evolution of the trickster tales. Undoubtedly, they have gained a new appreciation for Native American culture and a true sense of the Native American's value of the land and nature.

Martha Swanson, Gildersleeve P.T.O., November 1991
Gildersleeve School, Portland, CT

 

Anansi, the Trickster Spider

Holding 180 children, between 3-12 years spellbound for 90 minutes is quite an accomplishment. The parents and children are already asking when you will be back.

Gordon Maas, Director, June 1993
Henson Valley Montessori School, Temple Hills, MD

 

Families are still talking about your presentation of Anansi Tales. The power of these authentic folktales and the dramatic images projected by the actors remain with us to be savored again and again. Your art is wonderful. The combination of adapted folklore, highly imaginative costuming, and the inclusion of songs and chants for immediate participation, all serve to engage the attention of the entire audience, parents as well as children. Your troop of actors held the audience in the palm of their hands.....

Barbara Homola, Head, Children's Services, April 1993
The Bryant Library, Roslyn, NY

 

I have been reviewing and contracting cultural arts programs for over 10 years. Your performance and workshops for Anansi the Trickster Spider were spectacular. The workshops were well planned and directed and worked beautifully with the afternoon performance. The ability you and your fellow performers have in dealing with young children is amazing....You held the attention of over 350 kindergartners, first graders and second graders for well over an hour. Our children were either actively participating or totally mesmerized, enthralled and delighted. The purpose of having a cultural arts performance was fulfilled. Our school population was enriched and educated.

Mona London, First Grade Teacher, February 1993
Deasy School, Glen Cove, NY

 

Students loved the...colorful sets, creative costumes, and variety of musical instruments. Allowing them to participate helped to make the experience even more enjoyable.

Ismael Calderon, Coordinator of Community Programs, March 1989
American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY

 

The Myth of Persephone, or how the seasons came to be

...thank you for helping make Sunday Spectrum a wonderful success--your work with the deaf as well as the general audience was really special and made a great day for many people who had never been to the museum before.

Corky Dean, Project Coordinator, May 1989
Museum of Fine Arts and George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, Springfield, MA

 

I would like to thank you for the two wonderful performances of 'The Myth of Persephone' which you performed for the city-wide celebration "For Kid's Sake Day". The inclusion of your performance in the schedule of events for the day provided a quality experience for our visitors.... The theater workshops and parade through the museum were also a tremendous success. I want to thank you for your flexibility and professionalism,...considering that 4,000 children floated in and out of the museum! I am pleased to recommend the Grumbling Gryphons to any organization which attracts elementary age children.

Amy Jared, Coordinator, Youth and Family Programs, April 1988
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

 

Workshops by Leslie Elias

I have watched many times while you take a group of students who are quite new to you and magically involve them, unrehearsed, in a performance for themselves and each other...your outstanding contribution to these occasions is you own infectious and vitalizing spirit...You have instinctive insight into those children's talents which can go unperceived in regular school situations.

Ann Schillinger, Director of Community Resources, April 1988
Bedford Central School District, Mt. Kisco, NY

 

This was the best program we've seen with music. Children's involvement was wonderful. Approach and level was most appropriate.
Let's do this again!

Teacher evaluation to BOCES, March 1993
New Lane Elementary, Selden, NY

 


Trickster Tales: Native American Animal Legends

The entire school, students and teachers combined, thoroughly enjoyed your entire presentation. The pre-performance workshops were an inspiring start to an exciting follow up performance.

Michelle Childs, Cultural Program Director, May 1993
The Botelle Elementary School, Norfolk, CT

 

This program was absolutely fantastic, I loved the performers, costumes, scenery and the stories!

Teacher quoted by Nancy Salem, PTO, October, 1992
Consolidated School, New Fairfield, CT

 

It was fascinating to watch the children come alive during your workshops as you used theater techniques to introduce them to the tales, beliefs and culture of our Native Americans. They were enthralled with the costumes and masks and loved participating in the evolution of the trickster tales. Undoubtedly, they have gained a new appreciation for Native American culture and a true sense of the Native American's value of the land and nature.

Martha Swanson, Gildersleeve P.T.O., November 1991
Gildersleeve School, Portland, CT

 

Anansi the Trickster Spider

I have been reviewing and contracting cultural arts programs for over 10 years. Your performance and workshops for Anansi the Trickster Spider were spectacular. The workshops were well planned and directed and worked beautifully with the afternoon performance. The ability you and your fellow performers have in dealing with young children is amazing....You held the attention of over 350 kindergartners, first graders and second graders for well over an hour. Our children were either actively participating or totally mesmerized, enthralled and delighted. The purpose of having a cultural arts performance was fulfilled. Our school population was enriched and educated.

Mona London, First Grade Teacher, February 1993
Deasy School, Glen Cove, NY

 

Families are still talking about your presentation of Anansi Tales. The power of these authentic folktales and the dramatic images projected by the actors remain with us to be savored again and again. Your art is wonderful. The combination of adapted folklore, highly imaginative costuming, and the inclusion of songs and chants for immediate participation, all serve to engage the attention of the entire audience, parents as well as children. Your troop of actors held the audience in the palm of their hands.....

Barbara Homola, Head, Children's Services, April 1993
The Bryant Library, Roslyn, NY

 

The Myth of Persephone

On behalf of the Philadelphia Museum of Art I would like to thank you for the two wonderful performances of "The Myth of Persephone" which you performed for the city-wide celebration "For Kid's Sake Day". The inclusion of your performance in the schedule of events for the day provided a quality experience for our visitors.... I want to thank you for your flexibility and professionalism. I am pleased to recommend the Grumbling Gryphons to any organization which attracts elementary age children.

Amy Jared, Coordinator, Youth and Family Programs, April 1988
Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

Workshops by Leslie Elias

Your visit with our team this week really brought to life the Greek myths for our students. The children all had positive feelings about participating in your well-organized performance. The costumes and props were creative and your choreography was superb. You are truly a gifted improvisation artist.

Betsy Guardenier, teacher, February 1989
Fox Lane Middle School, Bedford, NY

 

The Ghost Net: An Environmental Sea Story

You were spectacular. The teachers raved about the workshop sessions with the classes, and the performance exceeded our expectations and surpassed any other visiting performance that we have experienced. The thought, creativity, and talent that you lend to your production is outstanding.

Dale Bernardoni, Principal, May 1993
Center School, East Hampton, CT

 


Our children will remember this for a long time to come. We watched the excitement build to a wonderful whole school performance. The costuming was great and the handouts to prepare for the day made everything easy to put together. This was the best group we've ever had perform and work with us.

Janet Des Champs, 2nd grade teacher, June 1992
Millerton Elementary, Millerton NY

 


I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation and congratulations for the two wonderful days the Grumbling Gryphons spent at The Brooklyn School. Your ability to adapt your presentation to the interest level and understanding of Kindergarten students through grade 9 students over the four performances and numerous workshops is a tribute to your talents. Beyond that, however, it speaks to your keen interest in increasing our awareness of and sensitivity to important ecological issues.

Paul Carolan, Junior High Principal, April 1992
The Brooklyn School, Brooklyn CT

 


I was impressed with the painstaking detail in your sets, costumes and of course, your script. As a marine biologist, it is most important to me that the information you are passing along is accurate. It was.

Barbara Whitman, Director, June 1990
Terramar Marine Biology Programs, Monroe, CT

 

Grumbling Gryphons is the winner of the 2003 Connecticut Governor’s Arts Award, the highest award one can achieve in this state. Founded in 1980, the Gryphons have been performing in schools, theaters, festivals, museums and libraries for 30 years.