The past two winters in San Jose haven't produced much precipitation, but inspiration has been raining on me. Little did I know when I opened the San Jose Mercury News that chilly December morning, I would read an article that would change my life. The feature told the story of this remarkable institution of higher education called the College of Adaptive Arts and how it was giving adults with varying disabilities the opportunity to perform, create, sing and dance.
As I read the story, I felt a tangible tug on my heart and a voice almost audibly whispered in my ear, "you need to direct a musical for them." Eagerly, I found the contact information embedded in the piece and contacted Pam and DeAnna. Our first-ever meeting at the Cup and Saucer Restaurant was more like a reunion! Three old friends who had never met before. It was magical! It was like I had known these women all my life as we talked and cried and planned and talked and planned and cried some more. I honestly felt that God has sent me to work with this college, and that's what I set out to do.
We planned our first summer show, Footloose, and set the wheels in motion to make it happen. I picked the songs, acquired a choreographer and secured the performance space at Pioneer High School. As rehearsals began at the CAA campus, I was overwhelmed by the energy, love and dedication of the the CAA actors, dancers and singers. I remember Amber, our choreo, coming to me on that first day saying she was out of material to teach. I asked her why, and she said she had only planned on doing one number the first day, and that the cast had learned it in 20 minutes instead of the 90 she had in mind! So, she improvised and taught the students two more songs.
The energy and excitement of opening night was palpable and the show was an over-the-moon, sensational hit; but something that happened midway through the rehearsal schedule convinced me I had finally found a home for my talents. A young, wheelchair-bound actor had impressed me during rehearsals with her energy, enthusiasm and drive. But, on this day, she wasn't there her usual 15 minutes early. As I was preparing for the day's work, I looked up to see her literally crawling towards me on the floor, pulling herself with just her arms. I called her name and said "what's wrong?" She looked up and me, smiled and simply said..."the elevator is broken and NOTHING is going to keep me from rehearsal!"...