Live recording from the Dave, Ken & Molly show, radio station KZZU 92.9 FM
interviewing Wendy Carroll on their Thursday, September 1, 2022 broadcast.
Download the audio to hear the inspiring interview.
It’s live theater with a beautiful twist: every actor on stage has special needs or a disability. The concept is quite simple: each actor is accompanied throughout the rehearsals and during the production with a non-disabled shadow actor who coaches, prompts and provides support. It works brilliantly! Nov 17, 18 and 19 Out Of The Shadows Theater presents “Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.”, with a cast of 35 actors and 35 shadow actors at the beautiful Kroc Center theater. The year-old theater company wowed their audience last November with the inaugural production of “Beauty and the Beast, Jr", playing at the sold out 400 seat theatre, twice! “We had hoped for full houses, but it was bittersweet to have to turn away 200 people when the seats ran out,” says Wendy Carroll, founder of Out Of The Shadows Theater and artistic director/producer. Carroll loves to tell the story of how the theater company came to be. “As the child of an actress, my son attended endless auditions, rehearsals and performances, always cheerful and supportive. One day I caught his eye while I was auditioning and heard a silent voice say ‘When is it my turn?’ And so I founded the theater company. We soon found there were many, many adults in our community who had special needs and disabilities that longed to act.” The cast covers a broad range of actors, from 9 to 63 years of age, representing many different challenges from down syndrome to autism to multiple sclerosis. Bitten by the theater bug last season, most returned for this year’s production, joined by some newbies who have rapidly also become enchanted by theater. Shadow actors also come from all backgrounds, from seasoned professional actors you might recognize from TV commercials, film and local theater, to friends and neighbors who have no theater experience whatsoever, joining hands to be a part of this amazing adventure. “It’s so fulfilling to see relationships form among this group of people who might otherwise never have met,” Carroll says. “We believe that theater is for everyone, not just as audience members but also as performers,” says Carroll. “Theater has recently been identified as a form of therapy for individuals who have autism. It has measurable value and the benefits are lasting.” Last year’s production inspired a young actress to walk. Yes, walk. Olya Scheel had been in a wheelchair her entire life. Setting a goal to walk on stage, she doubled down on her therapy and a week before opening night walked on stage in her role as Babette the French maid. “She took our breath away.” Olya is back again in this year’s production, still walking. Carroll brought her idea to the theater community in the summer of 2016 and it was welcomed with great enthusiasm. With no budget but a solid belief in the support of the community, Carroll assembled a production team of professionals: consultant Ellen Travolta, director Lorna Hamilton, musical director Julie Powell, set and lighting designer Michael McGiveney, Emmy-award-winning costume designer Judith McGiveney, Stage Manager Tia Wooley and a host of others who elevated the production values to a professional level. This year most return with the addition of stage manager Lizzie Kitzig and costume designer Jamie Russell. Everybody on the production team donates 5 months of their time and talent during which, being professionals, they could be getting paid. It’s definitely a labor of love. The plan is to produce a musical every November and the public’s support will decide if that will be possible. It’s certainly likely that Out Of The Shadows annual production will become a go-to local event. To participate onstage or backstage, or to become a sponsor or donate, contact Wendy Carroll at (208) 818-0953. Performances run Friday, Nov 17; Saturday, Nov 18 both at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday Nov 19 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are by donation and may be purchased at the door, although given last year’s sold-out shows, reservations are recommended. Advance tickets may be purchased at the Kroc Center or online at www.kroccda.org/calendar (events, November). In keeping with the goal to make the arts accessible to everyone, American Sign Language interpreters will be present at the Nov 17 and 19 performances (contact 208 763-0606 for ASL accessible seats only). They can also be found on Facebook as Out of the Shadows Theater and at GOFUNDME.com. Be a part of the magic – they rely on your generous donations!