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CharacTours

Where the Past Visits You

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Jewish LES

Travel back to the Lower East Side in 1900 and meet some of the Jews that lived in the most crowded neighborhood in the world. A socialist newspaper owner, an activist nurse, and a vaudeville comedienne will captivate you. See how Jewish immigrants shaped America, and walk the streets your grandmother did, and grab a pickle from a barrel!

Colonial NYC

Did you know that George Washington was inaugurated president in New York City? We did. Come join this exciting trip where you'll time travel to revolutionary times. Meet George, and Nathan Hale, and Gershom Mendes Saixas, the first American born Jewish Leader. Put on some pantaloons and come join this tour!

Jewish Philly

Larry Fine + Molly.JPG

Did you know that Philadelphia’s first Boxing champion was A Jewish immigrant named Benny Bass? We did! Join CharacTours on this exciting theatrical adventure through the Jewish History of Philadelphia. You’ll meet four real characters from the Revolutionary War till the 20th Century. Tour guide and actor Andrew Davies will make this an immersive walking tour you won’t want to miss!

Ellis Island 

12 million immigrants came through Ellis Island with the same worries, hopes, and dreams that immigrants have today. Learn what it was like to be an inspector, a new immigrant, or a doctor at the gateway to America. Bring your family’s story, bring your questions, but don’t bring scurvy ‘cause you’ll be turned away!

Photos

"A wonderful immersive way to travel back in time."

-Jessica Berger

"History's never been

so entertaining!"

-Seth Lemerman

Testimonials

"The characters are not only informative, they're hilarious!"

-Matt Shapiro

"They take the walking tour to new heights."

-George Chan

"The historical characters interact, inspire, and delight!"

-Frannie Laks

TESTIMONIALS
BOOK A TOUR
ABOUT US

CharacTours are an interactive theatrical walking experience where the past visits you. Each CharacTour features one guide leading the group while an actor crashes the CharacTour playing many different historical characters. 

CharacTours is a Non-Profit organization that believes that individuals shape history, and we shape the future. Be inspired by the leaders of the past, and become a leader of the future.

OUR STORY

How did CharacTours Start?

     On a hot, summer day in July of 2016, improvisational actor Andrew Davies of The Bible Players fame, and tour guide Jonathan Goldstein of Cicerone Travel had a fateful meeting over macchiatos in a delightful Brooklyn cafe. The US Presidential election was underway, revealing the depth of division in modern times. The two entrepreneurs discussed potential projects to apply their respective talents in a world that seemed to be growing increasingly short on sensitivity, empathy, and unity.

     An idea was born to connect our audience to individuals from all walks of life through interactive theatrical walking experiences to engage with characters from history that might serve as an example of the great issues of our day. We would introduce the experiences of immigrants, activists, reformers and dreamers to connect the American heritage of yesterday to the world we live in today. Thus, CharacTours combines the transformative power of immersive theater with the perspective shifting possibilities of historical tours.

Who Started CharacTours?

Andrew Davies

Philly Director/Co-Founder

&

Jonathan Goldstein

NYC Director/Co-Founder

          Andrew S. Davies is an improviser, educator, tour guide, and facilitator based in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Philadelphia, Andrew received a B.A. in English Literature from Brandeis University before moving to New York City in 2006. Andrew now lives in Brooklyn with his wife Molly.

          Andrew studied acting with the Atlantic Theater Company and acted in and wrote several plays. His Climate change Musical "Blizzard the Wizard" was produced at the Off-Broadway theater Urban Stages. His Financial Fairytale Musical "The Goldenberg Scandal" was performed at The Drama Bookshop.

          Andrew went on to study Improvisation at The Magnet Theater and received a certificate of Facilitation from Georgetown University. He volunteers leading workshops with Cherub Improv, a non-profit which provides laughs for those who need them the most.

          In 2011 Andrew Co-Founded The Bible Players, a comedy team which is improv-ing Jewish Lives. The Bible Players have toured to 25 states, visiting hundreds of camps, schools, and synagogues teaching Jewish Values with a sense of humor. We walk softly and carry a big Shtick!

          Jonathan Goldstein has a classic New York City story: his great-grandfather came through Ellis Island and moved to the Lower East Side, his grandparents moved to the Bronx, his parents to Jersey, and now he lives in Brooklyn.

          He first moved to NYC in 1999 to study History at Columbia, under Kenneth Jackson, the legendary professor of NYC's history. After a brief stint in finance, he took an epic 3-month backpacking trip through East Africa that ultimately landed him in Israel in 2006 to study an MA at Bar Ilan University in Land of Israel Studies and Archeology and the Ministry of Tourism's Guiding Course. Since 2009, he has been a tour guide in Israel working with a variety of clients including families, organizations, congregations, young professionals, pensioners, foodies, artists, activists, etc... 

          He currently operates a full-scale travel operation under the label Cicerone Travel in New York City, Central Europe, and Israel guiding the curious among us in an exploration of this crazy world we live in.

Who makes CharacTours Great?

Zack Friedman

CharActor

      Zack Friedman is an award-winning writer, performer, and teacher. His work has appeared in the New York International Fringe Festival, the Bleecker Street Theater, the DR2, The Kraine, 59 E 59, The Barrow Group Theater, Phillipstown Theatre, the June Havoc, and Bryant Park.

      Zack has been teaching the Jewish youths of Manhattan since 2008.  Zack holds a BA in Theater Arts & English from Brandeis University and is a graduate of the American Theater Wing's Springboard program, as well as a participant of the Einhorn School for the Performing Arts at Primary Stages. 

Dahlia Lopez Ramsay

Tour Guide

      Dahlia Lopez Ramsay is a born and raised New Yorker hailing from the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Like most New Yorkers she is a descendent of immigrant grandparents – hailing from Jamaica and Puerto Rico – and revels in the unending diversity and contradictions of her city. Did you know the borough of Queens speaks over 170 languages and dialects? And that’s just Queens!

      She holds a bachelors degree in Urban Studies and Planning and as an avid urban cyclist, has a endless, unmediated love for the ever-evolving organism better known as “the city”.

      Dahlia’s goal is to make people miss being in New York before they even leave it and have their next trip to New York already envisioned. In the meantime, she’ll give your regards to Broadway.

Lucy Lavely

CharActor

     Lucy Lavely is an actress based in New York City. Originally from Connecticut, Lucy received her BA in Film, TV, and Theatre from the University of Notre Dame. She later earned her MFA in acting from Florida State's Asolo Conservatory for Actor training.

     Lucy has acted on stages all over the North East including Baltimore's Center Stage, and Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA. Lucy helps run Drunken Shakespeare in New York, a show that makes Shakespeare accessible for everyone. She recently starred as Lady Macbeth in Monmouth and made her off broadway debut at 59 E 59 in New York City. 

     Lucy is excited to be joining CharacTours and furthering the mission of bringing history to life. To see more of Lucy's film work and to get in touch with her, visit her website at www.LucyLavely.com

Joey Blackburn

Board Chairperson

     Joey Blackburn has worked in education for a decade, first leading staff trainings at Teach For America, before leaving to teach English in Thailand. While there she realized she had a passion for being in the classroom, so upon returning Joey became a New York City Teaching Fellow. She is currently a special education teacher in the Bronx. 

     Joey’s love for travel has taken her far from her small-town roots in Oklahoma, and she enjoys exploring the U.S. and abroad with her wife, Amy and their dog, Henry. Joey has a B.A. in Sociology from Oklahoma State University and a Masters in Education from Long Island University. She can be reached at 

RJoeyBlackburn@gmail.com

Eric Lockley

Harlem Tour Writer

and CharActor

Dan Fast

Board Secretary

          Dan Fast is a management consultant who helps mission-driven clients grow their organizational capacity, outcomes, and community reach. Dan has over a decade of experience serving the North American Jewish community, including strategy and management roles at Reboot, Birthright Israel NEXT, UJA-Federation of New York, and Hadassah/Young Judaea. 

     His passion for music and entrepreneurism led him to co-founding Mercado Sound, an educational travel startup that explores culture through the lens of music. Dan holds a B.A. in English and Religious Studies from Lafayette College and lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Jennifer. dfast83@gmail.com

Dan Kitrosser

Board Treasurer

     Dan Kitrosser is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and storyteller. His plays include Dead Special Crabs (The Barrow Group Theatre, monologues published by Smith & Kraus), Tar Baby (with Desiree Burch, Winner Fringe First Award--Edinburgh FringeFestival), The Mumblings (NY Fringe, published on IndieTheatreNow.com), and A Few Things Before I Leave You (O'Neill Conference semi-finalist). 

     For the screen, Dan co-wrote the forthcoming screen adaptation of Justin Torres’ novel We the Animals (dir. Jeremiah Zagar, Cinereach) for which he was a 2014 Sundance Screenwriting Fellow. 

     He is currently a TimeWarner 150 Fellow for his new television series The Move about white flight in 1980s West Philadelphia. Dan is the founding Artistic Director of Writopia Lab’s Worldwide Plays Festival (now in it’s 8th year!), a festival of plays written by teens and tweens from around the country, and he has twice been awarded a Gold Medal for Outstanding Educator by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. He currently splits his time between New York City and Portland, Oregon.

SUPPORT

Support CharacTours!

1. Tax-Deductible Donations

Your contribution will help us spread CharacTours, interactive theatrical experiences where the past visits you. All donations are 100% tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsorship with the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity.

2. In Kind Donations

In addition to funds, there are many other resources CharacTours' needs. If you have costumes, supplies, connections, or skills you would like to offer please contact us at CharacTours@gmail.com to find out how you can help us grow. 

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