Gettysburg Community Theatre (GCT), the non-profit 501c3 organization located at 49 York Street within the first block of Lincoln Square in Gettysburg, PA, will present its Penguin Project (theatre for actors with special needs) production of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer the musical to already sold out 9 performances weekends December 1-17, 2023. The Penguin Project gets its name from the fact that penguins are birds with special needs (they cannot fly) but they thrive equally as well as any bird in their own environment. They are very resilient and loving creatures.
“Our penguins (actors with special needs) may not be able to fly”, says GCT Founding/Executive Director, Chad-Alan Carr, “but we see their spirits soar on stage through the love and joy of theatre arts.”
The Penguin Project began in Illinois over two decades ago and is now being replicated in over 15 different States across the country. GCT was the first to replicate the program and started producing an annual musical featuring young actors with special needs and their peer mentors without special needs, acting side by side with them back in 2014. GCT’s Penguin Project has performed at the high school auditoriums of Gettysburg and Hanover, as well as at the Eichelberger Performing Arts Center, and of course at the GCT stage. Their program is the only one of its kind in Adams, York, Franklin Counties and beyond.
This year’s production of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer the musical is of course based on the 1964 animated special. The cast features actors ages 10+ with and without special needs including: Samuel Albert, Andi Athanasakis, Mikey Athanasakis, Charlotte Brandauer, Danny Burton, Trey Colassard, Victoria Craver, Kevin Foster, Devin Harry, Alaythia Hoffman, Ruthanna Hoffman, Hannah Hoffman, Olivia Hoffman, Kalgin Kuhns, CJ Lair, Giada Langville, Bridgit Latshaw, Ryan Latshaw, Thea Mathers, Madison Melton, Dustin Miller, Lonnie Miller, Madison Melton, Alex Millet, Hadley Petruzzelli, Holden Petruzzelli, Janna Scott, Ella Scott, Leah Spangler, Kira Spangler, Nyelle Steinour, Sarah Sterling, Leah Watson, Michael Yamba, and Cady Youker. The production team of directors and assistants include Chad-Alan Carr, Carrie Conklin, Kevin Foster, Madison Melton, and Maria Wolfe, along with design/technical crew members Chase Bowman, Alexa Connelly, Michael Connelly, Joshii Naderi, Jane Patrono, Kristy Petruzzelli, Linda Toki, and dozens of volunteers that help make the theatre magic happen for every show.
“Though many of our young actors with special needs include everything from Autism, Down Syndrome, CP, cognitive delays, and other neurological disorders,” says Carr, “with GCT’s Penguin Project we celebrate their abilities to shine on stage together with singing, dancing, and of course lots of smiles when the audience cheers for them. It is life-changing.”
GCT’s Penguin Project is made possible by generous support from The Cultural Alliance Of York County, Adams County Community Foundation and their wonderful Giving Spree, The Robert C Hoffman Charitable Endowment Fund, The Marie Keese Lelash Foundation, The Forward Fund, Sharon Magraw, Danny Sebright, Mary & Jed Smith, Kiwanis Club Of Gettysburg, The Optimists Club Of Gettysburg, The Eagle Riders Of Gettysburg, Gettysburg Eagles, The Christmas Haus, The Gettysburg Chocolate Market, and many individual donors like you.
GCT’s Penguin Project 2024 will be The Sound Of Music which will perform at Gettysburg College’s Majestic Theatre May 17 & 18, 2024. Tickets are already on sale through The Majestic box office. Anyone with or without special needs ages 10+ is encouraged to come audition to be a volunteer cast/crew for The Sound Of Music at 6pm December 4 or 5, 2023 at GCT.
GCT hopes to see YOU at the theatre this year. Subscribe free to the email list to be kept up to date on all educational, volunteer, and performance opportunities. Additionally on their website you can order tickets, register for classes, and make donations. www.GettysburgCommunityTheatre.org
GCT Mission Statement: To inspire creativity and confidence, provide cultural enrichment, and instill a love of the theatre arts in people of ALL ages and abilities through quality education and performance.