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Helping Drew

by Alex Ishkanian

Helping Drew is a musical puppet show with an anti-bullying message perfect for kindergarten through 5th grade elementary school students. This 30-minute program helps students recognize bullying and look for solutions within themselves and with the help of others. Students and adults are instantly endeared to the puppet characters and the fun music which moves the lesson along. It's both entertaining and educational on this important subject of bullying. The program was designed for school assemblies and can easily be used in libraries or other educational and entertainment settings.


Every child can identify with Helping Drew, whether they are the bully, the child being bullied, or the bystander. Helping Drew creates a friendly environment for discussing peer-to-peer aggression and provides children with a solution. This is the best anti-bullying program I have seen offered!
Crisan M. Crozzoli, Olweus Bully Prevention Committee Coordinator, M.S. Childhood Education, Balmville Elementary Classroom Teacher
Our students and staff were very pleased with the anti-bullying assembly delivered by Mr. David Manley. The program Helping Drew was very focused and delivered in such a remarkable way that our students were completely captivated with its delivery. Our kindergarten through 2nd grade students were excited and fully engaged in the program. It was a great learning experience for our students.
Dr. Maloy, Administrator, New Windsor Elementary School, New Windsor, NY
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Welcome Park

by Alex Ishkanian

Welcome Park is opening a new visitor center and Bunny and his friends want to get in on the act. They approach Park Ranger Ned with the idea that they could teach visitors about the seasons. Ned is worried because each has a bad habit that could interfere with each one doing their best work: Bunny rushes through things; Dog gets herself so nervous she can barely speak; Bee tries to do too many things at once. What will Ned and the audience decide about their readiness to work in the new visitor center?

This crowd pleasing show is for ages 3 through 8. While reinforcing important seasonal concepts, children will learn how to improve listening skills.


The ability to listen, as well as to understand and to remember what is said, is an important early literacy skill. The playwright has found a way for the audience to focus on these skills through a fun-filled scenario of three children as they each struggle to learn, by listening, the facts needed for a presentation on our four seasons. As the story unfolds, the audience is made aware of the ways that our listening, understanding and memory can be affected each day. In this case, the listening errors result in funny answers that rhyme, or begin or end with the same sounds as the information given. The children loved this and caught on right away! They were able to hear how the different errors in listening were made. What a great way for children to learn about this early literacy practice. This was a well written, engaging, educational play that reaches children’s minds and hearts in a delightful way.
Deborah Hill
Adjunct Professor of Literacy, Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, NY
Retired elementary classroom and reading teacher, Newburgh Enlarged City School District
Education Consultant, K-12 Literacy
President, Board of Union Nursery School, Newburgh, NY
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Monster Intelligence

by Alex Ishkanian

Melvin the monster is another year older but still not old enough for his license to scream. His birthday wish changes that and the Division for Monster Screams grants his wish on the condition of passing his test. Learning this new information can be difficult for Melvin and he sets off on a quest to learn with his friend Red the Rat by his side. Populated by a cast of friendly, colorful monster characters and original songs from a Green Day-style rocker, to classical, jazz, pop, and Broadway standards, makes this a journey never to forget. Self-reflection on how one learns best is an invaluable and life-long tool. As the audience watches Melvin's journey, learning with the help of a friend, they will internalize the importance of their own self driven quest for knowledge. Based on Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, audiences will identify with the various learning styles and gain confidence to tap into their own "monster intelligence."

Monster Intelligence is made possible, in part, with funds from Orange County Tourism and the County of Orange, NY. See the events on our Facebook page for premiere dates throughout Orange County, NY in May & June, 2014. Booking now for June 2014 and beyond. A musical journey for grades K-5 and the entire family.

"This was a well written, engaging, educational play that reaches children’s minds and hearts in a delightful way."

Deborah Hill - Adjunct Professor of Literacy, Mount Saint Mary College

About Us

  • David Manley

    David Manley

    Artistic Director/Puppeteer

    David was influenced by the puppet genius of Jim Henson at a young age and went on to perform his first public puppet show at 11 years old. A performer in the local theatre scene, David enjoyed roles on and off stage since 1982. Discovering puppet building in 2006, he parlayed his skills into teaching a puppet-making workshop at a local interactive children's museum and has since partnered with Just Off Broadway, Inc.'s Theatrtical Academy teaching young students the basics of puppet manipulation. David studied puppet technique with former Henson performer Michael Earl and Avenue Q alum Christian Anderson. David officially formed his puppet company Up In Arms in 2012 and quickly gained notoriety for its premiere production "Helping Drew", the anti-bullying puppet musical which performed to thousands of students in its first year.

  • Alex Ishkanian


    Elementary school educator Alex Ishkanian combines his passion for the performing arts and his education background to create engaging, dramatic programming for elementary-school-aged students. Alex has written the book and music for Up In Arms' premiere anti-bullying puppet musical "Helping Drew" and continues their creative partnership penning new shows. With a bachelor's degree in Theater Arts and a master's degree in Elementary Education, Alex has a knack for creating outstanding, heart-felt educational shows that appeal to audiences of all ages.

  • Tom Bunker


    Since childhood, Tom has been fascinated with puppets, watching The Muppets and Sesame Street whenever he could. In 2001, Tom began performing with his high school theatre group. In college, he went on to earn an Associates in Performing Arts with a focus on musical theater. He has been studying puppeteering, performing songs from Avenue Q and was Master of Ceremonies for his college's Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS showcases. In the summer of 2012 Tom was the lead puppeteer and performed the role of Nicky/Ricky in a regional production of Avenue Q at The Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck, NY.

  • Emily Dykeman


    Emily earned her B.A. in Theatre having studied puppetry, acting, writing and design for the stage. She has plied her craft in both college and regional theatre productions. Emily is excited to flex her puppetry skills with Up In Arms as she seeks to broaden her puppetry repertoire.

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