News Post

"Grease" is the word!
John Morgan


February/March Core Value Highlight: Diversity
Differences among us bring strength, value, and perspective.

A great example of how Vista embraces the Core Value of Diversity is our A Shared Stage Productions (ASSP) musicals. Since 2014, this program has presented seven fully staged musicals featuring an integrated cast of shoreline performers alongside Vista students and members. Rehearsals began recently for our eighth show - Grease, which will run May 12- 14 at The Kate in Old Saybrook. 

The value of the A Shared Stage Productions experience is felt not only by the Vista students and members, but also by the community members who participate. Some have had previous experience, but for many, this is their first encounter with individuals with disabilities.

A returning participant who’s been in several show right from the start, Kitty Fitzpatrick was already accustomed to working with individuals with disabilities through her employment at a similar agency. In the years since her first ASSP show, Kitty has joined the Vista staff and serves as Director of the Engage Program. “It is exciting to watch the growth of our students and members through the rehearsal process; watching them learn and gain confidence in their abilities is inspiring to me. ,” she shares.  “The relationships they form with each other and particularly with our community actors is powerful and it is a privilege for me to be a part of our productions.”

Kitty Fitzgerald, once a community participant and now a Vista staff member, in the A Shared Stage Productions shows The Wizard of Oz and All Shook Up

Christian, a Vista Engage member, is making his stage debut in Grease as Danny Zuko, leader of the Burger Palace Boys. He’s never done a show before, but he said, “Once I heard what the show was about—greasers and rock ‘n’ roll—I knew I had to be a part of it!” While he already knew most of the Vista cast members, he’s enjoyed meeting the community actors and getting to know them. He’s working hard to learn his lines and songs, and recommends that you “get your tickets before it sells out—you won’t regret it!”

Another Vista Engage member making her ASSP debut is Sue, who’s part of the Pink Ladies ensemble. Sue had done shows in the schools she attended prior to joining Vista. She finally took the plunge and auditioned for Grease last fall. “Neil (the director of Grease) made sure to introduce all the community people to us so we could get to know them,” she explained. “We’re all having a great time in rehearsals. It’s a fun show—you’ll laugh your head off!”

Grease rehearsals - Christian works hard to learn his songs, while Sue learns how to wop-bop-a-lu-bop!

Another person who was exposed to Vista and its mission through ASSP was Lori Cartwright, an experienced stage manager in the local community theatre scene. She recalls, “I first worked on the Variety Shows that Vista was producing. But I had very little experience working with adults with disabilities. It took me some time to understand how to adapt the rehearsal process I was familiar with for the Vista cast members.” But by the time Vista was ready to do Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in 2014, Lori knew that the students and members were up to the challenge: “I saw how the community performers would take them under their wing and mentor them. They were invested in their success onstage.” She enjoyed running into her new Vista friends out in the community after that, and when she joined the Vista staff as Manager of Organizational Development a few years ago, “I was amazed by how many of the members who had been in that show remembered me by name after seven years!”

Watch a video about auditions and rehearsals here

More to come…


Find this series on Vista's Blog Page