Beyond the footlights are the IV drips and wheelchairs. But when the curtain rises twice a week at the Giggles Children's Theater, the spirits of sick children are lifted and the show goes on at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Paterson.

Giggles Theater was originally created only to entertain the youngest patients at St. Joe's. Today, Marie Caliendo, Executive Director of Giggles since 2010, opens the performances to all Passaic County children and residents.

Students at local day care centers, after school programs and home school organizations can also attend these free shows.

Giggles is on the 2nd floor of St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, 703 Main St., but it is a project of Medical Missions for Children, a nonprofit organization formed in 1999 by Frank and Peg Brady. Their mission is to help improve the medical outcomes of children in under-served communities in the US and in over 110 countries around the world. From a child's perspective, Giggles provides a short escape from the fear and monotony that often coincides with a hospital stay. Giggles presentations are delivered via closed circuit television to the bedside of children too ill to come to the theater, and are broadcast via satellite and internet to other children's hospitals.

Published in "Passaic County Arts News", A Publication of the Passaic County Cultural & Heritage Council