If you watch TV and pay any attention whatsoever to the ads, you already know that "Mr. Popper's Penguins," the Jim Carrey movie with hot and cold running penguins, is opening in movie theaters this week. If you need more penguins, or a different kind of penguin project than the one Jim Carrey is running, you'll want to head over to the Astroth Community Center at Heartland College in Normal to catch the McLean County Penguin Project® production of "High School Musical, Jr."
Performances are scheduled for Friday, June 17, and Saturday, June 18th, at 7 pm, and Sunday, June 19, at 2 pm.
Seedling Theatre's Donna Anhalt, who is the producer of this event, says by way of invitation: "Come one! Come all! Watch 79 talented young people sing and dance for you in this delightful musical!"
The Penguin Project's home page explains the process that makes the Penguin Project unique: "All of the roles are filled by children with developmental disabilities including Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, visual impairment, hearing impairment, and other neurological disorders. They are joined on stage by their 'peer mentors,' a group of children the same age without disabilities, who have volunteered to work with them side-by-side and guide them through 4 months of rehearsals and the final production. By creating unrestricted access to the performing arts, The Penguin Project® demonstrates that the special challenges of a disability need not handicap a child’s ability to participate in life’s experiences."
In fact, Penguin Project organizers conclude, “Our penguins may not be able to fly, but that does not prevent their spirits from soaring.”
"High School Musical, Jr" is the McLean County Penguin Project's third production, after "Annie, Jr" in 2009 and "Music Man, Jr" in 2010.
And if you would like to listen to WJBC's interview with cast members Haley Dees, Ethan Edwards and Joshua Kothe, as well as producer Donna Anhalt, including ticket-buying information, you can click here.