It is the final dress rehearsal for the elaborate production of the Wizard of Oz. Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis created it`s children`s theater nine years ago, and every year since, audiences have been treated to a different magical production.
“One of the reasons we started Variety Children`s Theater is to give children the chance to perform. By and large they are not selected for various performances or productions because of a disability”, said Jan Albus, Variety Chief Executive Officer.
The theater allows friendships, confidence and self-esteem grow with each appearance.
“It was amazing because all the actors are in there and I get back to see my friends, said cast member Emily.
Emily has appeared in four Variety Theater productions, and cast member Phoebe has appeared in two.
“I just really like singing and dancing and I’m really good at it, said Phoebe.
Inclusion is intentional for children ages 7 through 21. Taylor from Cottleville enjoys working with variety children.
“ A lot of people think if you're just perfect, walking around on two feet you`re like everybody else. But disabled kids are special in a way that makes me really love them”, said Taylor
Albus explains, that there are 24 children, on stage that have a disability and 24 children from the community who don`t have a disability. They support each other together on stage”.
The cast includes adult performers as well. There are professional actors, like Elizabeth Teeter, who is cast as Dorothy. There is a full orchestra that provides the music, and locally made costumes by the Kansas City Costume Company. The skilled designers create the "look” with hair and makeup.
"The Wizard of Oz" are set for Oct. 19th through Oct. 22nd at the Touhill Performing Arts center on the UMSL campus. FOX2 is your proud media sponsor.