Pyramid Studios presents rousing performance in ‘Hotel 99’
By Anjelicia Bruton
For 15 years now, Pyramid Studios has been staging an annual play with a cast made up of people with disabilities.
Audiences have been captivated over the years, and that’s exactly what director Jilian Wesolowski strived for long before the actors hit the stage. She uses different learning techniques, such as rehearsing orally for those who are not able to read.
“Some of our students also have vision impairment,” Wesolowski said. “I make a CD for them of an audio of me reading their lines out with someone else reading everyone else’s lines. So when they hear my voice they know that’s the line I need to memorize and they take it home and listen on their headphones and that’s how they learn the script.”
It all came together this past Saturday on the stage in a presentation of “Hotel 99”, a musical comedy about a rock star who scheduled his farewell performance at the upscale hotel. The packed house at The Moon also participated in a silent auction and art gallery that featured pieces from all branches of Pyramid Studios.
Each actor in the play performed their part to the letter. As the story goes, a journalist covering the rock star’s last concert threatens to write a bad review because of his discourteous attitude towards hotel staff.
A bad review would have resulted in the rock star not being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame unless he is able to fix the mess he had created.
The performance brought the audience to its feet, everyone cheering and applauding. City Commissioner Curtis Richardson was right there in the midst.
“I developed an affinity for work for persons with disabilities as a school psychologist over 30 years ago,” said Richardson, who hasn’t missed a performance since the production began. “I’ve made it my passion and my work to support organizations that provide programs and services for those children and their families.” he added.
“The performance met every expectation that I had as they do every year. It’s just a wonderful family environment.”
Unlike Richardson, witnessing the performance was a first for Barbara Cohenour, who said the play was like none other she’d seen.
“I’ve never seen a play where the audience was so involved,” Cohenour said. “What a response! Everyone is cheering and clapping and I think that everybody here is in 100 percent support of those that are on the stage.”
Nancy Grieve was just as impressed.
“This will not be the last time I come to see one of their shows,” Grieve said. “This just opened a new opportunity to help them out and support them and come to the shows each year that they perform.”
Studio players said they love preforming because of the positive reaction from the community and the support at Pyramid. Richard Carton has been in plays for 12 years and co-wrote this one.
The experience has been helpful in developing social skills and expressing himself.
“I enjoy Pyramid because it’s a place where I can hang out with friends and really be able to express my feelings to people through music,” he said.
Elizabeth Haines, who has Down Syndrome and had a main role, said she isn’t driven by the accolades, but by her love for theater.
“My range is theater and I want people to notice that,” Haines said. “If people notice my disability that doesn’t bother me either, but if they don’t notice it right away I’ll be grateful for that too.”