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Woodlawn Arts Academy to Present Musical Revue


The first “Shining Stars Musical Revue” will be presented the weekend of Dec. 10 at Centennial Auditorium, Sterling High School. Tickets go on sale Nov. 28 for the production featuring a variety of popular Broadway Disney songs.

The production features 10 adults with special needs from Sterling, Rock Falls, Morrison and Prophetstown directed by Brandi Spreeman and Natalie Gordon. The performers will be joined on stage by peer mentors. Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 and 2 p.m. Sunday, December 11th, at Centennial Auditorium.

Tickets are $8 each, plus fees, and available beginning November 28th, online at centennialauditorium.org, or at the Centennial Auditorium box office, which is open 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. Tickets will also be available at the door prior to performances.

“Watching the performers come each week excited to be a part of this program is pure joy,” Gordon said.

“I am impressed by how quickly they are picking up on their music,” Spreeman added. “They are eager to learn and have a positive attitude.”

The Penguin Project of the Sauk Valley is part of the national Penguin Project. The Penguin Project is a unique theater experience that provides individuals with special needs the opportunity to participate in the performing arts. Cast members experience the process of putting on a show: auditioning, rehearsing, and finally taking to the stage to perform. Cast members are joined on stage by peer mentors – age-level peers with theater experience – who work alongside them during the entire show process.

“We have some amazing adult mentors that we are working with our awesome actors,” said Penguin Project of the Sauk Valley Program Director Dawn Arndt, “and without them we could not do this!” Arndt is volunteering as a mentor for this production.

The “Shining Stars Musical Revue” is supported in part by a grant to Woodlawn Arts Academy from the National Endowment for the Arts. Proceeds from ticket sales will support future Penguin Project productions.

“Woodlawn Arts Academy is a proud partner of the Penguin Project of the Sauk Valley,” said Christy Zepezauer, executive director for Woodlawn. “The Academy is always striving to expand programming. When a grant opportunity with the National Endowment for the Arts was presented to us, we knew this was the perfect time to offer the ‘Shining Stars Musical Revue’ for adults ages 23 and up with special needs.

This program has been in discussion for a couple of years now. Thanks to the funding from the NEA and the collaboration with the directors at the Penguin Project of the Sauk Valley, we are thrilled to see this opportunity come to fruition!”

Woodlawn Arts Academy is a partner agency of United Way of Whiteside and Lee counties, and programs are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

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