Hard work pays off for Columbiana actors with special needs

Actors with special needs perform 'The Little Mermaid'

COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – Two months of rehearsals for two big shows.

Saturday night Columbiana students with special needs put on a version of Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ at Main Street Theatre, singing and dancing in front of a packed house and not nervous at all.

Ian Cole is playing the role of Sebastian in ‘Little Mermaid Junior.’

“I think making people laugh was probably my favorite part out of the whole thing. I like to make people laugh,” he said.

The theater version of the popular film about a mermaid dreaming of becoming a human was the first of its kind for Crown Theatre productions.

“We put on one heck of a show,” Cole said. “I’m very proud of our guys. We all worked as a team, as a unit, together.”

The 15 actors all have special needs.

“A very big challenge for me, but the challenges that these guys overcome on everything they do…they work at it very hard and it’s really paid off,” said director Erich Offenburg.

Offenburg has directed many plays but says this one sits close to his heart.

“It’s just an amazing group of kids that put forth so much effort into everything they do,” he said.

Getting ready for the show took a lot of work; two months of rehearsals.

Each actor has an assistant to help learn lines, where they need to be on stage and cues.

“I’ve worked with special needs kids my whole life. This was a privilege,” said assistant Bobby Levine.

Everyone involved in the play, the actors, staff and crew, are all looking forward to more opportunities like this.

“I hope it’s going to open up a lot of doors,” Levine said. “We thank God that Crown Theatre did open up this door to benefit the kids and the families.”

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