East End Disability Associates Will Present THIS IS ME: SONGS OF HOPE

East End Disability Associates Will Present THIS IS ME: SONGS OF HOPEThis is Me: Songs of Hope and Heart includes both classic and contemporary Broadway show tunes, with joyful dancing and touching monologues that will be performed in The Gateway's professional theater in Bellport, NY on Friday August 24th at 11:30 am and 6:30 pm. This historic show deepens a six year relationship between EEDA and The Gateway, allowing performers with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be truly integrated into one of Long Island's oldest and most legendary performing arts community.

"EEDA and The Gateway began working together six years ago introducing members of the oldest Long Island professional working theater to members of a Creative Arts Program. The response from The Gateway members was that of immediate acceptance and appreciation of everyone's unique ability to bring value to the arts. The Gateway did not view the EEDA members as a limited arts program but as active participants in the arts community with limitless possibilities fostering true community integration," Lisa Meyer Fertal, CEO of East End Disability Associates.

Michael Baker, Director of The Gateway School of Performing Arts, is "proud The Gateway is committed to creating a safe, inclusive, and diverse artistic community of students and teachers. Our relationship with EEDA has only strengthened that mission by providing opportunities for people of all abilities to thrive and flourish in their creative selves while giving them a true foundation of technique and expression by learning from industry professionals with vast experience in theater, television and feature film."

For the first time, this cabaret-style variety show will be directed by The Gateway's Megan Minutillo, a professional director and theater educator who is also on staff at the Gateway's School of Performing Arts - an educational institution that offers a comprehensive array of classes, workshops, and intensives for students of all ages and skill levels in acting, musical theater, improvisational technique, scene study, and comedy classes.

Rehearsals and performances for This is Me: Songs of Hope and Heart will happen at The Gateway Playhouse in Bellport, NY - Long Islands oldest professional theater. The Gateway has been home to the professional performing arts since its inception in 1950, featuring union actors and stars such as Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman, Sally Struthers, Joe Piscopo, Andrea McArdle, Leslie Ann Warren, Betty Buckley, and Loni Ackerman to name a few.

'Songs' will feature EEDA performers including: Alissa Slade, one of the original CAP participants who has been attending the program for the past six years. As a performer she has had starring roles in The Who's Tommy, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and The Wizard of Oz. Other artistic pursuits Alissa has engaged in at CAP include creative writing, cartooning and song writing in collaboration with EEDA staff.

The Gateway and EEDA also partner on a class called, "All the World's a Stage." Designed for people of all abilities, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, this class is an introduction to acting workshop. It serves as both a stepping stone to placement in mainstream acting classes at The Gateway, and an opportunity to strengthen self-esteem, communication, and social skills. Students will have an opportunity to discover their unique voices and inner natures by participating in environmental, character, and situation-driven improvisations highlighting social skill development, as well as serious and comic acting exercises. On the final day of class, students of "All the World's a Stage" have an opportunity to showcase their talent to present to family and friends.

For a successful experience, students must be able to interact with fellow classmates and instructors as they work as a team, taking turns and following directions given by the instructors.

For more information on the show and for tickets please visit TheGateway.org.

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