Special needs LT actors host ‘Wizard of Oz’

Brianna Fonseca, Reporter

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Every year, the LT’s adult and community program gives a chance to adults with special needs the ability to participate in an acting opportunity that they spend most of the year preparing.  They are expected to host their annual play yet again, this year being the “Wizard of Oz.”

“Throughout high school, a great part of our special needs community are in the best years of their life,” Director Christine Grohne said. “After high school, they are often unable to find fun and accommodating opportunities to participate in, but with this play we truly have become a family that offers them something they genuinely care about.”

The play has been running for about 26 years after Grohne and her mother approached LT in hopes of starting night classes for people with special needs who already graduated high school, Grohne said. Grohne’s sister was apart of the special needs community and her mother hoped to offer activities to those who sought more extracurricular activities.  The original cast of the first play only had 16 people, and over the years that number has extended to 28 cast members.

 “After the play all they want to do is plan for the next year,” Grohne said. “From January to November, it’s a lot of work and dedication, you truly have to dedicate yourself and stick to it — to have so many actors who are so happy and excited there is nothing better.”

Last year, LT’s adult and community program hosted the “Lion King” which was another annual success for the program. This year’s production, “Wizard of Oz,” is playing Friday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m., and on Nov. 23-24, at 2 p.m., Grohne said. 

“It gives opportunity to students with special needs a place to highlight their talents,” Assistant Director Donna Walker said. “They can sing, they can dance, and they are braver than most. It can be daunting, but they get up there and just show their stuff.”

Actors from Aurora, Darien, Downers grove, Clarendon Hills and other farther locations have come to Western Springs to rehearse the play each week, Walker said. When the program first started, rehearsals took place in small theatres but slowly moved into bigger spaces within the school like the Reber Center and the PAC. This year the performance is taking place at LT’s South Campus PAC for $8. 

“We always want to thank LT for their support and their beliefs in actors with special needs in this adult and community special ed play,” Grohne said. “Having a school that constantly supports our actors and production is something I’m very grateful for, and we wouldn’t be able to do this without them.”