Jewish Journal


May 15, 2013

Autism musical sells out


“On Our Own.” Photos by Scott Tansey

“On Our Own.” Photos by Scott Tansey

Normally, a two-day run is nothing to boast about — but no one who saw the new musical “A Chorus Line of Another Kind” at the Highways Performance space in Santa Monica would say it was anything but a resounding success.

Both “A Chorus Line of Another Kind” and “On Our Own,” which played May 5-7, were written and performed by young people with autism. They wrote the lyrics for the poignant songs, which they sang in front of sold-out audiences.

The plays were produced by the Vista Inspire Program of Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services. The program developed out of Elaine Hall’s The Miracle Project, founded in 2004 to enable children and teens with autism and other special needs to express themselves through music, dance, acting, story and writing.  The arts program was documented in the HBO double Emmy Award-winning documentary “Autism: The Musical.”

At these performances, Hall served as creative director, joining forces with producer Naomi Solomon, director Jason Weissbrod, music director Karen Howard, and composer and accompanist Taylor Kinney.

The stars were the dozens of children and adolescents with autism who lent their talents and hearts to the songs. One participant, Ezra Fields-Meyer, even provided the artwork for the programs and T-shirts.

“A Chorus Line of Another Kind”

“You are beautiful/You are wise/You are beautiful/And this is no surprise,” sang Dashiell Chandler, a boy who otherwise does not speak, but who was able to perform his own stirring composition.

Joshua Erenmark sang his composition, “Disneyland,” which may prove to be the theme park’s single best marketing tool ever.

And teenager Myles Keys wrote and sang “Be the Change,” which turned into the evening’s anthem:

“Be, be the change/The change you want to be/Be be the change/Create your reality.”

Joining the actors were Vista Inspired Teen volunteers, who help their peers prepare and take part in the performance itself. This year, volunteer Sarah Popelka was honored with the Vista “Inspired Teen” Award.

For more information and a slideshow of the performance, visit vistadelmar.org.

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