TheaterWorks, Benevilla premiere ‘Beauty and the Beast Jr'

TheaterWorks, Benevilla premiere ‘Beauty and the Beast Jr'

Seventeen members of the Benevilla Helping Partners Program in Sun City, in cooperation with TheaterWorks, played to a full house at their spring stage production of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts.

“Benevilla was so excited by this unique partnership with TheaterWorks,” said Joanne Thomson, Benevilla president and CEO. “It was amazing to watch our HPP members grow throughout the course of this wonderful, life enriching opportunity.”

TheaterWorks’ AdaptiveWorks Program creates theatrical performance opportunities for individuals with mental and physical disabilities ages 12 and older.

Through this program, Benevilla HPP members played fully costumed and interactive roles in the production, focusing on the performance side of theater, including building and expanding upon fundamental acting skills. The program was facilitated by Adaptive Works staff, which is trained in working with adults with developmental and intellectual challenges.

This 11-week theatrical production — from auditions and rehearsals to the full performance of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” — began earlier this spring. The entire program included 10 rehearsals, a multitude of small group rehearsals as well as a final full cast rehearsal.

This program also included educational classes, through which Adaptive Works instructors provide hands-on guidance to the actors on building their acting skills.

“The rehearsals were very creative, and our members were so excited to be part of this show. We didn’t realize how much talent and enthusiasm our actors and actresses have,” said Deirdre Graham, director of life enrichment for Benevilla’s HPP.

This project was supported in part by a grant through the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which receives support from the state of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Through the HPP, adults with developmental/intellectual disabilities can experience volunteer and employment opportunities enabling the program’s members to contribute and make a difference in their communities. In addition, Helping Partners members participate in a wide range of wellness and life skills programs to enrich their lives and promote their independence, as well as their physical, social and emotional wellbeing.

For instance, members enjoy games, creative arts, gardening, community outings, entertainment opportunities and exercise each day. Benevilla is continually incorporating new enrichment activities into the Helping Partners program for members to enjoy and benefit from.

For more information, visit benevilla.org or theaterworks.org.