MOSCOW — The ARC of Scranton’s ARC Angels on Stage will present an original adaptation of The Polar Express on Saturday, November 18, at the North Pocono High School.
The 2:00 p.m. event is free and open to the public. The production will feature adults with special needs performing onstage with assistance from their “theater buddies,” several North Pocono High School students. 50/50 raffle tickets will be sold pre-show.
Geri Featherby, director of the Arc Angels on Stage show as well as of the school’s annual production of The Polar Express, had some help preparing the actors for their roles.
The show is choreographed by Christina Sohns Williams.
ARC’s auxiliary educational committee crafted stage props, including huge cups of hot chocolate, for the event.
A practice video was created by Allison Scherger to aid the performers in learning their lines and stage directions.
The NPHS theater buddies also played an integral role in helping the actors get ready to perform.
Now in its second year, ARC Angels on Stage aims to bring awareness to the community of the talents and gifts that special needs adults embrace and share so lovingly.
“I was approached by auxiliary member and retired educator Betty Moreken, who heard of U-Aut-2-Act, the theater school I run for autism students.
“I jumped on board immediately and recommended we go for a project grant from Lackawanna County.
“We succeeded in obtaining $3,000 the first year. This year we applied again. They are very supportive!” said Mrs. Featherby.
A documentary of last year’s eight week program can be found on YouTube by searching for Arc Angels on Stage.
The 35 minute video is truly a joy to watch.
Mrs. Featherby is a positive and energetic instructor who motivates the performers, some of who are rather shy and unsure of themselves at first, with an enthusiasm that is upbeat and fun but never overwhelming.
Mrs. Featherby explains why and how actors do certain things, such as using body language to convey a message or props to convey the idea of a character, and this background information enables the adults taking the class to really understand acting from the ground up.
She demonstrates what she means, and invites the participants to try each new technique for themselves.
By the end of the documentary, hesitancy is virtually gone and the actors are showing confidence in their newfound skills.
Learning about how to perform is not all that happens as the participants meet each week to prepare for show night.
Friendships are forged between the adults with special needs and their fellow actors, as well as between the actors and their theater buddies.
“When we walk in the ARC, the smiles, the hugs, the simple joy of knowing they are going to be in a play is worth every moment!
“I have never seen such a beautiful group of people who are so supportive of each other. The sincerity is overwhelming,” recounted Mrs. Featherby.
ARC Angels performing in The Polar Express include Bryan Pusey, Tyler Demas, Matt Rossi, Zak Kongbold, Cathy Brady, Chris Pate, John Hulse, Kevin Durkin, Maria Valiante, and Kristen Marconi. Also performing are the ARC Angels Mark Kwiatkowski, Pauline Burke, Matt Wildman, Teresa Salerno, Kayla Morgan, Ken Allen, Stacey Mallory, Shannon Sweeney, Alea Granville, Chris Schoner, and Kenny Carite.
North Pocono High School students serving as theater buddies are Regina Steele, Jonah Alefantis, Tina Kriedler, Kelsey Kline, Lexy Roman, Rachel Zarubski, Lena Huffman, Emily Fox, Emma Gilman, Lilly Martin, Noah Matyjevich, Mary Huffman, and Kyra Wojtkielewicz.