Mamma Mia! What a show from Special Needs actors

by Sylvia Pownall
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A group of adults with special needs had the audience dancing in the aisles with their performance of the ABBA-inspired musical Mamma Mia recently.

The 11 service users from The Westenders and Stepping Stones in Dublin 15 tapped into their creative side to put on a spectacular show at Huntstown Community Centre.

TU Dublin drama lecturer Maria Kenneally said she was blown away by the group of five men and six women aged in their 20s and 30s who were ready to take to the stage after just seven rehearsals.

She told Dublin Gazette: “I taught them drama for eight weeks and the focus was to improve their imagination, confidence, concentration and communication skills – and just to have fun and work as a team.

“They chose Mamma Mia themselves. It was about giving them self-belief and by the end of it they had so much confidence that they wanted to do solo performances.”

The performance was staged on May 30 with children from the local creche among the rapt audience.

Maria revealed: “It was an absolutely amazing performance with both adults and children joining in the celebration.

“They were up on their feet dancing and singing. It was a brilliant example of community integration, respect and diversity.

“My special needs actors were brilliant – and it was a very emotional day for them and their families.

“We want to do it again because it was so successful and are thinking about a talent show later in the summer.

“The participants in this drama group have special needs but also special talents, and this project combined music, drama and movement in a hugely entertaining, educational way.”

The cast of 11 were Fiona Blake, Lauren Byrne, Mary O’Connell, Adam Eglington, Stevie Ford, Margaret Curtis, Conor Howe, Jerome Moran, Alicia Power, Muanait Kennedy and Stephen Bradley.

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