Something truly magical takes place on Monday evenings at the Media Theatre.
While all of the theater’s musicals, concerts, classes and special events are all wonderfully creative and entertaining, the theater breaks down barriers for people with intellectual disabilities when they hold special rehearsals for a troupe of adults with intellectual disabilities.
The Media Theatre State Street Miracles, a performance troupe of 14 adults with intellectual disabilities, have a mission to spread the joy of music and dance while increasing awareness of the talents and abilities of people with disabilities.
2016 marks their 10th anniversary of performing and remarkable strides have been made in those 10 years. The troupe has grown from eight to 14 performers, they’ve learned the music, lyrics and choreography for 14 songs from classic musicals to pop and rock, and they’ve played to audiences from Harrisburg to Washington, D.C.
The Miracles are ambassadors in song who use their vocal and dance talents to show that people with disabilities have many abilities. Their performances are professional, yet spontaneous as the Miracles introduce themselves and perform a repertoire of songs from show tunes to modern hits including the Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Wherever they perform, smiles instantly appear on people’s faces as they are inspired and entertained by their lively dancing and singing.
The Miracles are directed by Roger Ricker and trained and accompanied by Tim Haney under the guidance of Media Theatre Director Jesse Cline. Members of the State Street Miracles are: John Abrams of Swarthmore, Aaron Brooks of Folsom, Patrick Clark of Springfield, Peter Crumb of Upper Providence, Maryjo D’Allesandro of Divine Providence Village, Springfield, Nakisha Edwards of Media, Ted Harris of Rose Valley, Erin McGivney of Wayne, Brian Short, Jake Spencer, Kimiko Iizuka and Kim Watson, all of Middletown; Brittany Roberts of Edgmont; and Erin Perry.
Since they were organized in September, 2006, the State Street Miracles have earned standing ovations for many performances, including concerts at the Rose Tree Summer Festival, the Pennsylvania Special Olympics Fall Festival at Villanova University. They’ve also traveled to Harrisburg where they were recognized by the state Senate and performed in the Rotunda, and to Washington, D.C., where they performed in the Senate Rotunda.
The troupe, which is sponsored by the Media Theatre, features 14 adults who have various developmental disabilities from autism to Down syndrome, but love to sing, dance and perform. The emphasis at Monday night rehearsals goes beyond performing. Since they joined the group, all members have experienced improved speech and articulation, better independence and decision-making, increased self-esteem, and most importantly, they’ve formed friendships with their fellow performers, the Media Theater staff, and members of the overall community.
Their repertoire includes a rousing rendition of “God Bless America,” a meaningful version of “Getting to Know You,” their theme song, and a hip-shaking version of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog.” The group enjoys singing “Lean On Me,” which communicates an inspiring message of support for each other.
Their message is also embraced in “That’s What Friends are For,” “Sing A Song” and “We Are the World.”
The mission of the State Street Miracles is to provide people with disabilities an outlet to express their musical and artistic talent while raising awareness in the community of the creative abilities of people who have a developmental disability.
While people with disabilities are more included today in the school and work environment, there are still many barriers preventing them from participating in the arts community. The Media Theatre, a professional music theater, provides a bridge to performance opportunities.
The State Street Miracles are taught in weekly sessions that provide them with affordable access to performance classes, plus the opportunity to perform.
During their introductions, the members tell a bit about themselves including their jobs and athletic accomplishments, and they stress that they are registered voters and they hold jobs.
The State Street Miracles are available to perform one or all of their songs at community functions. They are also available to open events with the national anthem or “God Bless America.”
For information about the State Street Miracles, contact Trish Cofiell at 610-322-6806.