The history of an organization that gives artists with special needs performance opportunities will be brought to life through words and music on stage at Illinois Central College.
The Penguin Players, a collaboration involving Illinois Central College and the Penguin Project, presents three performances of Once Upon a Penguin: A Musical History of the Penguin Project on August 4, 5 and 6 in the ICC Performing Arts Center, located on the East Peoria Campus. Shows take place on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and on Sunday at 2:30 pm.
Once Upon a Penguin is a revue-style presentation featuring musical scenes from past Penguin Project productions such as Annie, Jr.; Disney’s High School Musical, Jr.; Disney's The Little Mermaid, Jr.; Singin’ in the Rain, Jr.; Crazy for You Young Performers Edition; and more. In addition, former Penguin Project members will speak between musical numbers about their involvement in and memories of previous Penguin Project shows.
The ICC Penguin Players program held its first performances in 2015. The program is patterned after The Penguin Project, the successful local program that gives individuals 10 to 21 years old with special needs the opportunity to participate in the performing arts. However, the ICC Penguin Players program does not have an upper age limit.
Penguin Players performances consist of cast members, along with peer mentors who work with artists with special needs and are present with them on stage during productions. Peer mentors are responsible for knowing all lines, songs and blocking for their partners.
Artists and mentors participating in this year’s Penguin Players production include: Cristiano "Cris" Bennett, Peoria; Grace Brown, Dunlap; Nick Butler, Pekin; Grant Thomas Carey, Washington; Natalie Curiel, East Peoria; Vanessa Ellis, Peoria; Taylor Graves, East Peoria; Abby Grys, Pekin; Bekah Grys, Pekin; Kelsi Gustafson, Peoria Heights; Erin Hale, Peoria; Naomi Hardesty, East Peoria; Mackenna Hulsizer, Chilicothe; Sarah Johnson, Farmington; Kori Longbons, Washington; Skye Mayo, Peoria; Kammi Osborn, East Peoria; Sarah Routley, East Peoria; William Spangler, Peoria; Abby Swanson, East Peoria; Amanda Totten, Chillicothe; and Adam West, Peoria.
Dr. Andrew Morgan, founder of the Penguin Project, is director of the ICC production.
Tickets cost $11 for the general public and $6 for students. Tickets are available at ArtsAtICC.com or by calling the ICC Performing Arts Center Box Office at (309) 694-5136.
The productions are offered by the Arts at ICC, which has a rich history of enhancing the arts community and expanding education beyond the classroom. Arts at ICC presents more than 500 exhibits, performances, lectures, rehearsals, meetings, master classes, clinics, seminars, receptions, orientations, forums, auditions and tournaments annually.