NEW YORK, July 31, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Broadway may be dark amid the pandemic, but that's not stopping a group of aspiring actors with disabilities from pursuing their dreams.
As we mark the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, AHRC New York City'sOur Broadway theater group has demonstrated their talents and abilities in shows at the Jerry Orbach Theater. The group managed to perform an abridged version of The Wizard of Oz virtually, which can be seen on AHRC NYC's YouTube.
The desire to perform runs deep for members of the group. "It's been a dream of mine since I was a little kid," said Deshaun Ogarro, a 23-year-old Bronx resident.
"I had never been on Broadway or seen a Broadway Show," said Martin Neal, 56. "But when I went to Sesame Place as a child and saw the Muppets performing, that led to my dream."
The production has been in the works for months, said Dale Hensley, Our Broadway Director/Fine Art Consultant with AHRC NYC. With 40 years in show business, Hensley has made many friends along the way. They've been more than willing to work with the aspiring actors, actresses, singers and dancers who have disabilities.
"The show will go on," Hensley said. "We just didn't know when."
Ogarro played one of the guards in the show. While it was different to perform virtually, he said he didn't mind. "When I perform with my friends in Our Broadway, it makes me feel good knowing I have a career," he said. "I feel like a celebrity."
"I think they've always had dreams and aspirations but never had the outlet," said Mohammed El-Hadad, Community Service Professional (CSP) with AHRC NYC.
The Kings and Queens of Broadway
"From performing in front of a live audience on Broadway, to now filming their shows through Zoom, the performers are an inspiration," Hensley said. "Seeing their dreams of performing on stage, on film, their poems, their songs, publishing their books and displaying their artwork, brings such joy to my heart and to all those who get to share in the magic."
Staff have seen changes off the stage since the group started three years ago,.
"I think Our Broadway gives them more confidence," said Ginel Kelly, CSP. "They can do whatever they set their mind on."
Roughly 80 Broadway actors/actresses, choreographers, musicians, costume designers, and other professionals have worked with Our Broadway since it began. The performers with disabilities embrace the opportunity to work with Broadway actors/actresses.