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Heart of Utah: Special needs cast makes Peter Pan soar

(Draper Historic Theater)

DRAPER, Utah — The Draper Historic Theater did something historic this spring – for the first time they had a show full of actors with special needs perform a production of Peter Pan.

The cast members and crew say it was an incredible experience, where they made new friends and learned new talents and skills.

Jordan Barlow played the daring Peter Pan, and Timothy Van Skyhawk was an unparalleled Smee.

“Yeah, baby,” said Van Skyhawk. “Three cheers for Peter Pan!”

Both said the fight scenes were their favorite part.

They each have Down Syndrome and were part of the cast of actors all with special needs for this production of Peter Pan. The Youth Council at Draper Historic Theater ran everything, so everyone in charge was under 18 years old. Like Sasha Southwick, the assistant director, and stage manager.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “They just have done such a good job with their lines and getting to where they need to go. Very animated too, it’s great.”

15-year-old Audrey Lord was the assistant stage manager.

“It’s been a really fun experience. This show turned out so well, it’s really cute and just in general there’s been a lot of effort put into it by all the actors. It just brings you so much joy to see them having so much fun on stage,” said Lord.

Dylan Armstrong worked on the sound and technical aspects of the show

“Every time I get to rehearsal, I just think how awesome it’s been to do something like this,” he said. “I love all the friends I made and the people I get to work with and I think it’s a really awesome show.”

Roman Southwick was the choreographer and he is the Youth Council President.

“We worked so hard on this show, you know long nights and everything, and then just seeing everybody on stage and hearing the audience’s applause and having that moment where everything was worth it. All the hard work paid off and seeing how much the actors love being on stage and love what they’re doing,” he said.

They will take the lessons they learned this time as they plan another production like this next year.

“Definitely the next time we would have maybe a few less rehearsals and we just take pressure off the lines,” said Sasha Southwick, because they had readers on stage that helped prompt the actors.

She also wants to put more into costumes next time but says it turned out so great the way it was anyway.

“Yeah, yeah, I love Peter Pan,” said Van Skyhawk at the end of the interview. And Barlow said again how much he loved the fight scene and his sword.

The crew says it has been incredible to work together with the cast, and they learned so much from the different strengths of each performer. And they say they have been changed after getting the privilege to work together.


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