Illinois Central College’s Penguin Players Program Set to Begin May 13

               The Illinois Central College Penguin Players program is set to begin rehearsals May 13 to provide performance opportunities to even more students with special needs, as well as mentors who wish to help out and participate.
               The Penguin Players was created as a collaboration involving Illinois Central College and the Penguin Project. The program gives individuals with special needs the opportunity to participate as cast members in the performing arts. It is patterned after The Penguin Project, the successful local program that provides such opportunities to individuals 10 to 21 years old, but the Penguin Players program does not have an upper age limit.
               In addition to cast members, the production includes peer mentors who work with participants 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.
               “We support the goals of the Penguin Project and recognize the tremendous impact that participation in a theatre production can have on individuals with special needs,” said Kari Schimmel, dean of the ICC Arts and Behavioral Sciences Department. “We’re happy to help these young adults develop their creativity and teamwork skills and want to meet the needs of those individuals who have either aged out of the Penguin Project or are simply seeking additional creative endeavors.”
               Participants must be at least 16 years of age, and the enrollment fee for all participants is $40. This is a change from the initial year, when the Penguin Players course was offered as a class for college credit and cost was based on the tuition rate for ICC’s academic classes. Participation in the Penguin Players no longer earns college credit; enrollment in the Penguin Players program is now offered through the ICC Corporate and Community Education Office.
               Participants in the ICC Penguin Players must register through the ICC Corporate and Community Education Office either online at or by calling (309) 690-6900. Registrants should be aware there are two listings for the course – for students who participate as an artist or as a mentor –and make sure to register in the appropriate section.

               Rehearsals begin May 13 and take place on Monday through Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. Most cast members will rehearse two to three times a week; a detailed schedule will be available during the first week. Participants work on the preparation and rehearsing for staging for a musical theatre production.

               This year’s production is Fiddler on the Roof Junior, an adapted version of the play of the same name, which tells the story of Tevye the Dairyman who struggles to hold on to tradition as he and his wife raise their daughters in a changing world.
               Performances will take place on July 26, 27 and 28 on the main stage of the ICC Performing Arts Center, located on the East Peoria Campus. Tickets are available at or by calling the ICC Performing Arts Center Box Office at (309) 694-5136.
               The Penguin Players program is presented 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.


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