April is a GREAT Month for Disabled Actors in NYC.
By: Nicholas Linnehan
I’ve been saying that someone should write an article about what an outstanding month April has been for actors who are differently-abled. No one did, So I will endeavor to do my best here. But the three main theater companies that work with this under-represented group all had projects that either ended, began, or continued in the month of April. Thus, giving a lot of differently-abled actors like myself the rare opportunity to do what I love; perform.
Nicu’s Spoon (spoontheater.org) offered up a modern take on Peter Barnes’ dark comedy, Red Noses. This play, set during the ominous black plague, follows Father Flote as this zany priest tries to cheer up the infected and affected through mirth, joy, and kindness. And while I can not write a formal review of the production as I was in it, I can say that there were were many laughs and tears shared by the audience. I, along with three other disabled actors shared the stage for a two-week, 14 show run at The Secret Theater in Long Island City. On staff was a differently-abled Assistant Stage Manager who did an outstanding job at his post. He was the epitome of professionalism and enthusiasm rolled into one. I dare say the show was a success as it wasn’t a play with disabled actors; it was a play being told to an audience like any other play you may go see (although ours was better!)
Not more than ten miles away, Theater Breaking Through Barriers (tbtb.org) was reviving (and still is through May 10, 2015) Agatha Christie’s whodunit play, The Unexpected Guest. This classic British play is your typical murder mystery filled with twists and turns. Throughout the play, the audience becomes convinced that every single character is the murderer. When the true culprit is revealed, there are gasps and laughter as we are astounded that most of us have been duped. Five differently-abled actors grace the stage and each is commendable in their performance. Only one role is written for a disabled actor. Christopher Imbrosciano plays the mentally challenged Jan wonderfully. He bring high energy and emotional commitment to every scene he’s in. He is a fire-cracker and we are lucky to watch him take us on his roller-coaster of a ride. Anne Marie Morelli does a nice job as Miss. Bennett. She is cool and calculated, never missing a beat. She provides a nice contract to Imbrosciano and the two are compelling in their scene together. Anthony Lopez plays Sergeant Cadwallader and offers up a loot of comic moments that work well. Again, disability was not on display here, but the prowess of good acting shines through. Oh yea, the production has the audience vote at intermission for who they think the murderer is. The winner gets a prize at the end (pretty cool huh?)
Thirdly, Identity Theater Company (identitytheater.com), will hold auditions for its upcoming production of a modern musical adaptation of Pinnochio. (Book by Nicholas Linnehan and music by Ian Wehrle and June Rachelson Ospa) This production will tour to local schools, senior citizen homes, and homes for the disabled. Like the two other companies mentioned, Identity will cast differently-abled actors in its production. The production will play May 26-July 18, 2015 with public performances Sat at 2 pm at Joria Stages.