Provided by Making Light Productions
“I found you in the eye of a hurricane…” Those are the first words of the theme song of “Under the Rainbow: The Musical,” an original one-hour musical production created by Making Light Productions and debuting at the Florida Theatre Conference at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, FL, this week. “When we started this process months ago,” said Mandi Broadfoot, Managing Director and lyricist/book writer on the show, “we certainly didn’t realize that we would be conducting our final rehearsals in the wake of Hurricane Michael.”
Making Light is taking an inclusive cast — including both “neurotypical” kids and those with special needs — to the FTC’s Inclusion Festival this year. “The story of the musical is about acceptance and how differences make us stronger,” explained MLP executive director Juliet Yaques. “We are really excited to showcase, to our peers in the Florida arts community, how beautiful inclusion can look and sound.”
Making Light Productions is a Tallahassee-based non-profit organization with the mission of providing an inclusive performing arts education for children of all abilities, as well as providing job opportunities for adults with disabilities. “We began with just 21 kids in the converted garage of my Tallahassee home in 2016,” says Broadfoot. “And the demand for inclusive arts has grown to the extent – over 550 registrations in the past year – that we’ve outgrown locations twice now!”
Founded in July of 2016, by Broadfoot and Yaques — both mothers of children with autism — Making Light has been located in downtown Tallahassee since 2017 and just purchased a new 8,300-square foot building on Blairstone Road in Tallahassee, which will become its new headquarters in January 2019. While the inclusive performing arts school is thriving, the new location will allow Making Light to fulfill the final arm of its mission: providing jobs for teens and adults with disabilities at an on-site thrift store, “Making a Scene.”
After renovations, the new Making Light headquarters will also house a real on-site community theatre, explains Yaques. “Performance space has been a real challenge for us,” she said. “It is for all arts organizations in the area. But our challenges are unique.” She explained that children with special needs are often overwhelmed by new locations and take time to grow accustomed to the sights, sounds, even smells of a new room. “Some of our kids can’t participate in a piano recital or a theatre production if they have to do it in a brand new, rented location that they’ve only seen once before the show.” Having an on-site performance space, she said, will allow Making Light students to rehearse and perform in the same location, ensuring complete inclusion.
“Under the Rainbow: The Musical” was written by Broadfoot, Yaques and composer Jeb Bodiford. The production is sponsored by First Commerce Credit Union, Tallahassee Leon Federal Credit Union, Mainline Information Systems, the Community Thrift Market, Wells Fargo and a Fast Track grant from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.
Making Light Productions’ inclusive cast of “Under the Rainbow” took the stage at Santa Fe College in Gainesville on Thursday, October 25, at 3:00 PM. The cast will also perform the show at Theatre Tallahassee on January 5-6, 2019. Tickets can be purchased at UndertheRainbowMusical.com.
Find out more about Making Light Productions and its inclusive programs at MakingLightProductions.org.
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