Tapestry Theater Company celebrates young actors with special needs

BOULDER, Colo. -- Every performance of the Tapestry Theatre Company ends the same way: hands in, a joke and a cheer.

It's a reminder that this is about teamwork, fun and celebration -- not about the things that make these actors different.

Boulder's Tapestry Theatre Company is made up of young actors with special needs.

"We have actors who communicate without using speech for example. We have actors who need to be able to use a wheelchair," Elizabeth Goodrich, the theater’s director, said. "We create an environment where all people can demonstrate their skills and shine on stage.”

Each special needs actor, or lead, is paired with a mentor or understudy, like 12-year-old lead Zoey Kaufman who works with 11-year-old mentor Madeline Stutte.

Denver7 contributor Connor Long asked them what it’s like to be an actor.

“To be an actor is to have fun on stage. Make new friends,” said Madeline.

“It's really awesome,” added Zoey. “When I first met my understudy, i think we kind of connected a lot. We actually became friends."

This season, Tapestry is performing the musical Honk, Jr., a retelling of The Ugly Duckling.

The shows are chosen based on the message. Honk, Jr. is about a homely bird who suffers abuse until emerging as a beautiful swan.

“It talks about society not accepting someone who's different,” said Goodrich.

"Our other character's the froglett. A hopping character that shows that it doesn't really matter what you look like,” added Madeline. “It matters how you feel about yourself."

Shakespeare said, "The play's the thing." At Tapestry, the process of putting on the play's the thing.

The costumes are made with sensory-friendly materials and tailored to fit around wheelchairs.

“Sometimes when we have people in wheelchairs, the blocking might have to be a little different,” said co-director Lynne Niston. “It can be a long process because sometimes they need a little more time to memorize. Sometimes we need a little more work on acting."

Those special accommodations create something really normal and give the actors the experience of a lifetime.

Tickets are available for the last two performances of Honk, Jr. at 7 p.m. on Saturday, August 20 and 2 p.m. Sunday, August 21.

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