Group “not normally in the spotlight” expects to shine in BLT production

May 9, 2018 by Kate Day Sager (kdsager@bradfordera.com), Era Reporter

Daniel Nordin, from left, and John Kearns lead the rehearsal for the group song, “Fight My Battles” that will be performed by people of all abilities in the upcoming variety show “From the Heart.” The show, rehearsed at Togi’s Playhouse, will be staged June 3 at the Bromeley Family Theater at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

Some of the performers with disabilities were helped on stage to rehearse the number “Fight My Battles,” but it soon became apparent this group of talented individuals have every intention of winning the battle, and the audiences, in the upcoming “From the Heart” variety show.   

The one-act show, which features the talents of people of all abilities, will be staged at 2 p.m. June 3 at the Bromeley Family Theater at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. General admission for the 75-minute show is $5 with proceeds to offset costs incurred by sponsor Bradford Little Theatre (BLT). Proceeds will also benefit local charities chosen by the staff.  

A meet-the-cast gathering will be held in the lobby after the show.

Director Kristin Asinger said she was inspired to stage a show that has a number of adults with disabilities, as well as some school groups, as this provides an opportunity for these groups to entertain.

“About a year and a half ago, Chris Lathrop (a talented actor who works at Futures Rehabilitation Center) said he wanted to do a show with people who have special needs and are not normally in the spotlight,” Asinger recalled. In the 18 months since then, the show has developed into just that, but also has morphed into show that comprises “all ages and all abilities.

“This is really a beautiful thing, because you’ll see all abilities and all ages,” Asinger continued.

“The finale (Fight My Battles) was chosen because we all have challenges in our lives — and the way we make it through our challenges is by our friends and family … “

Asinger said the name of the production was provided by Pat Ryan, an administrator at Futures.

“He said when you’re doing something you really love, it comes from the heart,” Asinger recalled.

When contacted, Ryan said he, too, believes the show will “provide an outlet to showcase talents that have never had an opportunity to be on stage before.

“I think it will be a very heartwarming show,” he said.

Lathrop said he is pleased to see his idea make it to the stage and include many of his friends.

“I’m just very happy we’re getting this off the ground,” Lathrop said. “I’m beyond happy.”

In addition to a number of individuals from Futures, and the Evergreen Elm residential program, others who will take the stage include third- and fourth-grade students from The Learning Center and the Allegheny Mountain Cloggers.

“I think we have about 20 different numbers,” Asinger continued. “It’s a variety of songs, dance, skits and comedy.”

One of the highlights of the show will be the opening number, which is a group performance of the popular Frank Sinatra song, “New York, New York.”

The group will dedicate the song to the late Mike Walter, who loved the song, and had been scheduled the sing it in the show prior to his death on April 29.

Asinger noted all performers will receive T-shirts inscribed with From the Heart, and will be invited to a cast party.

Assisting her with the production are John Kearns as musical director and Daniel Hardin, assistant musical director; and Kim Hallock, producer.

Asinger said volunteers are still needed to help the actors backstage and provide make-up and hair styling.

In addition to BLT, other sponsors are the Kiwanis Aktion Club and Pitt-Bradford.

“I think this is something pretty special and I think it will turn into an annual event,” Asinger concluded.

For more information, or to help, contact Asinger by email at kristinasinger49@gmail.com.

Originally posted in The Bradford Era