Development Disabilities of Clark County youths to show theater skills

Credit: Brett Turner

Credit: Brett Turner

A year’s worth of hard work exploring theater skills will pay off on a stage for 11 local children ages 6-14 with disabilities who are ready to perform for the public.

Community Health Foundation and Developmental Disabilities of Clark County (DDCC) will present “A Perfect Blendship,” a children’s theater performance of three short plays based on classic children’s stories through song and dance at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Turner Studio Theater in the Clark State Performing Arts Center.

The event is free and open to the public.

The road to Blendship began with Sharon Pruzaniec, who works in community connections and employment for DDCC, who wrote for a grant and received one from Community Health Foundation for children to get an introduction to theater.

She was inspired by an association with Springfield Civic Theatre, which used one of DDCC’s meeting spaces to rehearse in 2022 for a junior theater production of “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer Jr.” and included DDCC kids in the cast.

Becky Brunsman, who directed that show, stepped up to lead the program and is directing Blendship with other Civic members.

Credit: Brett Turner

Credit: Brett Turner

The intent was for the children with disabilities to gain social skills, creativity, communication and confidence. They also worked to memorize lines, songs and dances.

“The goal was to give them an experience. It was important for them to be bigger than themselves,” said Pruzaniec.

They started with a small production of “Peter Pan” in the summer of 2023 and met twice a month to hone their theatrical skills since. It was a good bonding experience to be with their peers with disabilities, Pruzaniec said.

Brunsman picked up a few things herself. What stood out was how each child learned differently and figuring out how to apply that to each.

“These children had no experience but had such fun learning how to become a character and the theater rules,” said Brunsman. “This is a show of children exploring theater and self-discovery, and we hope people will have a look.”

The cast will include Ezra Gathney, Karson Welch, Mason Spicer, Max Steele, Makayla Melvin, Mi’Kayla Straight, Mikayla Abney, Mina Rudnicki, Tomas (Tomi) Anderson and Trenton Jones. The program will also include numbers from the Young Adult Performers.

The kids were excited to get into their costumes during a dress rehearsal last week and work with the props and sets created by for the show. The stories presented will include “Rainbow Fish,” “Sadie and the Silver Shoes” and a variation on a familiar tale, “The Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig.”

Pruzaniec received positive feedback from the children’s parents noticing them building confidence, self-esteem, independence and being able to fit in with their peers.

“They’ve become like a little family. They don’t all go to the same schools so they liked seeing each other” said Brunman.

Pruzaniec hopes to continue the program going forward and is working on securing another grant and would like Springfield to discover this unique program.

“We hope the community will come out to our show and enjoy the hard work these children have put in,” she said.


What: “A Perfect Blendship”

Where: Turner Studio Theater, Clark State Performing Arts Center, 300 S. Fountain Ave., Springfield

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 9

Admission: free

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