‘A Magical Special Needs Revue’ at Draper Historic Theatre is all about teamwork and friendshipJul 03, 2023 09:30AM ● By Katherine Weinstein
The cast of “A Magical Special Needs Revue” rehearses on the stage of Draper Historic Theatre. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Duncan/Draper Historic Theatre)
In the world of entertainment, perhaps nothing brings a memory and a smile to peoples’ faces like the music of Disney. Draper Historic Theatre will present an evening of songs from Disney movies and TV shows both old and new in “A Magical Special Needs Revue” on July 1, 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. The production is an opportunity for actors and singers of all ages with various disabilities to showcase their special talents and leave audience members with a song in their hearts.
The singers in the cast of “A Magical Special Needs Revue” at Draper Historic Theatre have been enjoying their rehearsals. Joshua Pettit, a high school student from Lehi, explained that the key to putting on a show with such a diverse group of performers is collaboration. “I like the team work we do on the show,” he said. “We’re figuring it out together. I just like the effort everyone is putting in the show.”
Pettit sings the part of Rafiki in the song, “The Circle of Life.” The program for “A Magical Special Needs Revue” consists of well-known songs that span the Disney catalog. Director Jessica Duncan explained, “We want to keep it a high energy and entertaining show that people will connect with.”
A sampling of songs in the revue includes classics like “Under the Sea,” “You’ve Got A Friend in Me,” and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” in addition to “We’re All In This Together” from “High School Musical” and “The Best of Both Worlds” from “Hannah Montana.”
Duncan is making her directorial debut with “A Magical Special Needs Revue.” “Collaborating is what I love,” she said. “We’re all learning together. To be offered this opportunity was really neat.”
At auditions, “we had a bigger turnout for singers than I thought possible,” Duncan added. The numbers reflect the degree to which opportunities for people with disabilities to sing and perform are in demand.
Heidi Costello, mother of 5-year-old Joseph Costello, drives to Draper all the way from Brigham City for rehearsals. She read about the revue on a Facebook page for mothers of children with autism. “We came down for audition night and we could see that Joseph really, really enjoyed it,” she said. “At home he always wants to put on a play and we love Disney!”
As the youngest member of the cast, Joseph will sing “Do You Want to Build a Snowman.” He explained that this is the first time he has been in a show. “I’ve been having fun,” he said.
Emily Arthur, who graduated from Corner Canyon High School in 2018, said of being on stage, “It feels like my home when I do this. I love to sing, dance and act.” For Arthur, the aspects of the show that she enjoys the most are, “making new friends, getting along with each other and having kindness.”
Many performers and their family members expressed similar feelings. AdriAnn Manos, who studied creative writing at Salt Lake Community College, uses a wheelchair and has sought out ways to express herself musically for years. Her mother, Kerri Manos, said, “She’s very musical. It kind of brings her out of herself. When she’s performing she’s happier and feels like she fits in a little better.” AdriAnn Manos is performing “Part Of Your World” as part of a duet in the revue.
Karen Kunder, who goes by “KK,” also said that making new friends was the best part of being in the show. The Taylorsville resident recently competed in the 50-meter dash, 100-meter dash and the mini javelin throw in the Special Olympics. “This is my first show,” she explained. “I’m going to sing ‘Mother Knows Best’ from ‘Tangled.’”
Kunder encourages people to come see the show. “It’s going to be a Disney song show and they’ll really like it. It’s fun to watch people with different special needs perform,” she said.
“A Magical Special Needs Revue” will be presented at Draper Historic Theater on July 1, 7 and 8 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children. The theater is located at 12366 S. 900 East in Draper. For tickets and more information, visit draperhistorictheatre.org. λ