Syracuse Stage presents free performances of children’s tour ‘The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus’ in Syracuse Community

Family friendly performances in September and October at Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park and Salt City Market

Syracuse, NY –Syracuse Stage brings its Bank of America Children’s Tour production of “The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus”, created in partnership with the Syracuse University Department of Drama, to the Central New York community with public performances at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park in September and the Salt City Market in October. This original play is a unique twist on traditional storytelling that will captivate and inspire audiences of all ages—a bit of moonlight brings a menagerie of found objects to life showing the power of memory and imagination.

Performances are scheduled at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park on Sept. 18 at 12:15 and 2 p.m. and Sept. 19 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Attendance at “The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus” is free with zoo admission. After each performance is a talkback with the cast and a zookeeper. Zoo patrons can also participate in a scavenger hunt around the zoo to find the real-life versions of puppet animals featured in the show for the chance to win prizes from Syracuse Stage and the zoo.

Two performances are scheduled at Salt City Market on Oct. 2 at 10:30 and 11:45 a.m. Audience members can visit the Syracuse Stage Education team at these performances to learn behind-the-scenes information about the theatre. Families will receive a take-home box of activities to explore set, lighting, sound and costume design. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets to enjoy the performance.

“Covid forced us to pivot the Children’s Tour to a digital production, but we still wanted to find a way to safely bring affordable, live and imaginative theatre programming to local children,” said Kate Laissle, associate director of education at Syracuse Stage. “We’re thrilled that both the Rosamond Gifford Zoo and Salt City Market were open to sharing their spaces with us and the community, especially since the themes in ‘The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus’ tie in perfectly with our partners’ missions of conservation and sustainability.”

Performances at both locations will be held outside, weather permitting. Tickets are not required.

“The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus” is the story of eight-year-old Sheila and her pack of pals. School is out for the summer, the weather is hot and the boredom is heavy, but they aren’t going to let the summer heat wear them down. When their fantastical junkyard fort draws the attention of a walking, talking, surprisingly well-dressed coyote, the adventurers suddenly find themselves deep in the desert, facing The Council of Howls, The Sting Brigade, The Death Cactus and much more. It’s a whirlwind adventure about how humans affect the environment and the animals with whom we share the planet and how we take on the mission of saving the world from ourselves.

“The show is a blast for kids and their adults with talking coyotes and even kitchen tongs, but we’re also dealing with serious themes like the endangerment of wild animals and human impact on our environment,” said Katherine McGerr, “The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus” director.  “We couldn’t be more excited to share this story and we really believe this show is more important today than ever.”

The Bank of America Children’s Tour typically travels to Central New York elementary schools each fall, bringing high-energy, interactive and culturally diverse performances directly to student audiences. Each performance is fully staged with scenery, costumes and sound. For the 2021/2022 school year the production has moved to a virtual format, schools can book an online video of the performance. Live in-person performances are available only on weekends in October. Classroom study guides are provided prior to each performance to enhance student learning. Schools or organizations looking to book a virtual or in person production can contact Theorri London at


Written by Eric Coble
Directed by Katherine McGerr
Costume and scenic design by Carmen Martinez
Sound design by Dan McLain
Stage managed by Andi Voigt

Public Performances

Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park

Sept. 18 at 12:15 and 2:00 p.m.
Sept. 19 at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Education Outreach Sponsors:
Bank of America
Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation
Tompkins Financial Advisors

Salt City Market

Oct. 2 at 10:30 and 11:45 a.m.


August Fegley Dust Cloud
Sarah Munguia Dust Cloud
William Schuyler Coyote
Axel Vera Coyote

Syracuse Stage– Founded in 1974, Syracuse Stage is the non-profit, professional theatre company in residence at Syracuse University. It is nationally recognized for creating stimulating theatrical work that engages Central New York and significantly contributes to the artistic life of Syracuse University, where it is a vital partner in achieving the educational mission of the University’s Department of Drama. Syracuse Stage’s mission is to tell stories that engage, entertain and inspire people to see life beyond their own experience. Each season 70,000 patrons enjoy an adventurous mix of new plays, and bold interpretations of classics and musicals, featuring the finest theatre artists. In addition, Stage maintains a vital educational outreach program that annually serves more than 15,000 students from 14 counties. Syracuse Stage is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for the American theatre, and a member of the Arts and Cultural Leadership Alliance (ACLA), the University Hill Corporation and the East Genesee Regent Association. Syracuse Stage is a member of The League of Resident Theatres (LORT), the largest professional theatre association in the country.

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park is among the top 10 percent of zoos in the country accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is dedicated to connecting people to the natural world by providing engaging guest experiences, exceptional animal care and unparalleled conservation education.

The zoo actively collaborates with Friends of the Zoo to provide its guests with experiences that excite, memories that endure and knowledge that inspires worldwide conservation.

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $9 for adults (18-61), $5 for youth (3-17) and $5 for seniors (62+). Children 2 and under are free. For more information, call the zoo at (315) 435-8511 or visit

Salt City Market is a food hall and public market in Downtown Syracuse. A project of Syracuse Urban Partnership, Salt City Market looks to be a space for people to build generational wealth doing what they love and for Syracuse to show itself off in all of its culture, glory, richness and grit.