Actors living their dreams in ‘Wizard of Oz’ in Greensboro

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Two actors in the Community Theatre of Greensboro’s “The Wizard of Oz” may have disabilities but that’s not keeping them from taking stage.

"Stop being what others expect you to do,” said Gabriel Allen, who has cerebral palsy. He’s been living his dream of acting for six years now despite being in a wheelchair. “Just go for it, live your dreams."

For 21 years, the show has included actors with special needs.

"I don't treat them any different, they don’t want to be,” said Executive Director Mitchel Sommers, who believes in casting people with talent no matter their disability. “You got to be here on time, learn your lines and do your thing."

Sommers says community theatre should always reflect the community and for many, seeing people with special needs on stage is inspiring.

"I always tell people if you give him an opportunity he’s bound to surprise you," said Connie Bissell. Bissell’s son Luke, who has Down syndrome, is performing as a munchkin and says he’s more like all the other children than he is different. "He's just like God wanted him to be ... and he's great."

"Do what you want to do to make yourself happy,” said Allen. “Otherwise you'll be miserable the rest of your life."

The show starts on Saturday.


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