Xclaim Inc. Wizard of Oz Production Benefits WKU Kelly Autism Program

By Melissa Warren | 

Today's performance of the Wizard of Oz was so much more than a normal show. Children raised the money to put on the show, and the ticket sales went the Kelly Autism Program.

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"It has a very nice metaphor. Young people with autism are often following a yellow brick road world in a society they don't fully understand the rules for, and so in this show, we really give them an opportunity to perform and have some self esteem building," said Director Christopher H. Cherry.

Some children diagnosed with the disorder were also able to play a part in the show as cast members.

"Alot of young people with Autism do very well in theater because it gives them an outlet to explore expression they would not normally do in their daily lives," said Cherry.

Even at a young age, the cast members know the importance of their donation to the Kelly Autism Program.

"Overall, it means more people who fall within the Autism spectrum will have more opportunities with the Kelly Autism Program," said Cowardly Lion Steven Montgomery.

They say being able to actually work with children with Autism spectrum disorders was even more rewarding.

"It's just a great opportunity for kids who as Steven said, would not normally have this opportunity. We get to work with them and make them feel at home when they're on stage," said Scarecrow Mallory Hudson.

"It meant alot to us to be able to give these young people the same opportunities their peers have, and see perhaps even a greater measurement of success in the building of their self esteem, and self confidence. That I think is the true measure of success of the show," said Cherry.

If a packed house is any indication of success, they accomplished that as well.

At the end of today's show, Cherry was surprised with a Tommy Lifetime Achievement Award for his years of service teaching and directing children in youth theater.

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