Many of our readers are familiar with our theater productions, which feature months of practice on part of our members in music, dance and acting. This event is one of the truest symbols of what One Step Beyond is about — our members practice and learn in a variety of fields in order to bring it all together in one grand show, whether that means a dramatic production or participating in public life.
Events like these tell us something about what it means to strive, to work towards something you care about, and then be able to share that with your family and friends. We understand this as one of the most fundamental ways that all people, regardless of ability level, connect with their communities.
What we should talk about more often is the personal impact these experiences have for our participants. At the end of the day, our job is to bring our them opportunities for fulfillment and growth. So we spoke with a few of our participants and staff about this year’s show, Little Mermaid, and what that experience meant for them. Here's what they told us.
Ryan talked with us about how much he enjoyed playing Sebastian, and that he couldn’t wait for the next show. “The show, everyone enjoyed it, lots of laughs, [the best part] to me was to show everyone that people with disabilities can do whatever they want, without people judging them, they can act and sing all they want!”
Chelsea talked about how she loved the show, and believed that everyone did a great job. She commented on how she used to watch the movie, and how well everyone did making it work onstage. The part she liked the most was the costumes, and the makeup, which she thought the director did a great job on. When asked about the future, she said she will definitely want to talk part in future plays and musicals.
“Being a part of the Little Mermaid” production was quite the experience! From the costumes, to the theatrical makeup, stage scenes, and most important my fellow actors and actresses. From all the funny times to where we laughed in between acts so hard our stomachs ached, to the moments we were ready to scream at each other from frustration. I would revisit every moment. I am forever grateful that I got to play the part of Ariel, I mean who doesn’t want to be a Mermaid/Disney Princess? I felt like in One Step’s special way I was on a Broadway Stage. To see everyone’s talents shine those two nights warmed my heart forever.”
Cory (Prince Eric)
“...I will always remember being part of one of the biggest stage productions OSB has ever put together. Those two nights and the thirteen weeks before it really changed the way I performed onstage. When I first heard that I was going to play the coveted role of Prince Eric, I was excited yet getting a lead role like this would be tough. Even through it all, I made it look easy like the roles here I played before it at Theater Works .... Overall, my fifth experience with Theater Works was a spectacular one."
As related by Kristin Woosley, our Dance Coordinator:
"As the dance choreographer this year, I have to admit, I feel extremely lucky to call this my job. What really makes the performance so amazing is everything that the audience doesn’t see. The months of rehearsal and the dedication to practices that the actors spend at the theater and at home. " She continued, " It’s a family affair, and it’s all hands on deck. The staff, the families and the most importantly the actors put so much energy into realizing the final shebang!"
Kristin also talked to several of our members about their experience:
Seana (Jellyfish): Seana talked about how she likes making people happy while they are enjoying the show, “people love to come watch us” she explained, “I love being funny.”
Jennifer, another participant, noted “it was nice to watch this year” and added that “the costumes were wonderful.”
Enter Shelby, “It’s exciting to be in front of an audience!” Shelby lit up as she described her experience in the play.
Nicole also spectated this year, but sounds like she will be coming out for the next one. As Kristin reported, “She just can’t even wait to sign up for next year!”
Andi and Carrie: "Kendra E. was the best mermaid sister ever.”
Casey (Infamous Dancing Seahorse): ”It just really makes me feel good about myself”
You may notice a common thread throughout these the conversations. All participants are excited for these programs to continue, and want to take active roles. Whether it’s Aladdin or Little Mermaid or a brand new story altogether, what we have is a lasting outlet for imagination and enthusiasm. We recognize these activities are important in a lot of ways, research describes how the arts help those with developmental disabilities in areas of memory, cognition and reinforced social skills, as well as a means to establish positive identity. Rather than only reading about it, we are able to see those benefits at the stageside.
We've learned that our participants love the spotlight — they want to sing, dance, tell stories, and yes, perhaps show off a little. It is our mission and privilege to keep giving them opportunities to do so. We hope to continue providing this part of the One Step experience for years to come. As you heard from our members, the show must go on.