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Thursday, December 4, 2014

MORC Players wow audience


Some 16 people with disabilities sang, danced and did improvisations in a performance that thrilled and brought happy tears to the eyes of some of their parents and an audience of about 100 at the Auburn Hills office of the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center.

It was an evening of joy and discovery of new talents.

The performance was the first time the “MORC Players” took the stage under sponsorship of The Futures Foundation, a nonprofit that raises funds to help those with disabilities, and guidance by Lou Fazzini, founder and executive director of All the World’s a Stage, Susan Scheuer, volunteer and board member and Mary Ellen Renne, another volunteer.

Parent Donna Raphael said the show Tuesday night (Dec. 2) meant “so much to our family and daughter whose one request was to be in an acting troupe. We were thrilled by her performance.” Daughter Lindsay said, “I loved singing and made new friends.”

The actors and actresses began practicing for the show about 12 weeks ago, said Teri Donaldson, the executive director of The Futures Foundation. She was in the front of the room with the performers encouraging them by repeatedly saying: “You can do it” as they sang or danced on the ‘stage.’

“We try to teach people to step out of their comfort zone and not give up,” said Fazzini. “This program was about giving everyone a voice.”

Actor Yuri Goga, 28, of Waterford said, “I learned to mime for the first time. I liked having my voice to be on stage.”

He was referring to when Scheuer began the show by standing in front of the troupe and moved her body and the MORC Players mimicked her motions. At one point with arms outstretched to her sides, she reached straight up to the ceiling and then over her head, creating a circle like the world or a new dawn and everyone did the same in a heart-warming moment that symbolically showed the spirit of those with disabilities can’t be limited.

Fazzini said theater is a universal art form and “can be for any level” of ability. “It’s just about doing things. We taught the actors and actresses how to use their voices, bodies and motion to express themselves.”

MORC vocational specialist Kristie Persyn of Macomb Township said the performance “made the actors and actresses feel special and boosted their self-esteem.”

“I think it gives our people the chance to shine in a different way,” said Support Coordinator Supervisor Sue Gipperich. “It shows they are individuals and can get up there and strut their talents and show they are as good as anyone else.”

At one point, everyone sang along with a recording of the late Karen Carpenter’s “Sing, Sing a Song.” Not one performer worried his or her “singing wasn’t good enough for everybody else to hear” as they moved, each in his or her own way, to the song’s rhythm.
Alicia Young of Waterford said it was “so much fun and we worked so hard.” Her friend and fellow actress, Nadeen Spivey of Rochester Hills, said: “I made new friends, too, and liked best interacting with the others.”

Kelly Knighton of Clarkston summed up the experience for the actors and actresses who had fun and ventured where they had not gone before.

“I had stage fright, but I hung in there and got back up and did my thing. I loved the performance.”

And perhaps that is the key to life and finding happiness: Getting back up and doing your thing with all your heart.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 63-8950.

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