Community Living, Inc. Presents 'Alice in Wonderland Jr.'
ST. CHARLES--A diverse cast of 36 individuals with disabilities will take the stage at St. Charles West High School on April 28 for a pair of performances, as Community Living, Inc. presents its 2012 client theatrical production of Alice in Wonderland Junior.
Final preparations are currently underway for the seventh-annual performance, which will feature the largest client cast to date.
Led by CLI’s Recreation Services department, this year’s performance includes 27 returning cast members from the successful 2011 production of Willy Wonka Junior and nine new cast members who will have their first opportunities to exercise their acting skills.
“Rehearsals began in January and are going great,” said Jodi Darrohn, CLI’s Director of Adult Recreation Services. “Each client involved in the production is very dedicated to their role, and it’s been amazing to see the transformation taking place in the actors. Many of our clients love the theater but were never given the chance to shine in their high school or church performances because of their disabilities. Our client productions give them a chance to be center stage and really show people what they are capable of.”
Each production is a team effort between the client actors, members of CLI’s Recreation Services department and CLI volunteers who work together to construct and design props, scenery and costumes. To accommodate the needs of the clients, a junior version of the original script is used, and recreation staff members read through the script in advance to adjust lines and make the material easier for clients to memorize and deliver on stage. During rehearsals, staff members and volunteers are on hand to run lines with actors to help them memorize their parts.
Among the volunteers assisting with this year’s play is CLI board member Tom Westphal. Westphal is the first board member to serve as a volunteer on one of CLI’s client productions, and notes that he got involved because he wanted a chance to interact with the individuals being served by the organization. For the past six weeks, he’s attended rehearsals, helping actors learn their lines and feeding lines to actors who may forget lines or need assistance reciting lines.
“This experience has definitely been rewarding,” said Westphal. “It’s pretty incredible to watch the actors come out of their shells and to see firsthand how having the chance to perform is helping them gain self confidence.”
When the clients take the stage for their pair of performances on April 28, Westphal and hundreds of family members, friends and supporters will be on hand to cheer on their loved ones.
“On the day of the play, our actors receive a lot of pep talks and hugs from their caregivers,” noted Darrohn. “The families greatly appreciate the opportunity that we are giving their children, and they often watch the performance with tears in their eyes because they never thought they’d see their son or daughter performing on a stage in this way. To be able to witness people with disabilities showcasing their abilities is priceless. It’s something you really have to experience firsthand, and the audience is always blown away by the performances.”
The upcoming April 28 performances are open to the public and will take place at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at St. Charles West High School.
Tickets are available for $5, and those interested in attending are encouraged to reserve their seats in advance by calling 636-614-1325.
For more information on the production or CLI’s Recreation Services department, individuals can visit Community Living’s website at www.cliservices.org, or call (636) 970-2800.