Rick Woods will be starring as Daddy Warbucks when Annie opens next month at the Open Door Theater in Akton, Massachusetts. And Rick's 22-year-old autistic son Lee will be singing and dancing onstage with him, playing a butler:
“Lee loves musicals. He has the spotlight gene and loves the attention,” said Mr. Woods, who is no stranger to treading the boards locally. He has performed with the Stratton Players and Theater on the Mount, and has even taken a turn directing.
Starting Jan. 11, they will be onstage again in “Annie,” with a first-ever performance designed to be autism-friendly on Jan. 19.
“Autism-friendly performances have been successful on Broadway with 'The Lion King' and 'Mary Poppins.' They do many things, including keeping the lights on, and the audience being restricted to families with children with autism,” said Mr. Woods.
Rick and Lee performed together previously in Tom Sawyer and Fiddler on the Roof:
“By the third show, this one, he did not need me to shadow him anymore. There are caring people who take care of him. All of the children and people with special needs participate at the level that they can manage. We have a blind girl, one with Down syndrome, others with physical and developmental disabilities. And it's not just the cast — this includes the backstage crew,” said Mr. Woods.
There are children with special needs with “buddies.” And there are children with no special needs who are interacting with the children who have needs. Mr. Woods said it's sometimes like “herding cats” with so many people involved in the production.
“It's going to be a wonderful production with lots of talented people,” he added.
This is a song for everyone who has been rejected for being different.
Remember you are swans, all of you.
Danny Kaye sings "The Ugly Ducking" by Frank Loesser in the movie Hans Christian Anderson.
Today is my mother's birthday.
This is me, singing the song "Proud of Your Boy" for her, and for my dad, for Father's Day.
I imagine many of us would like to say these words, or something like them:
Someday and soon
I'll make you proud of your boy
Though I can't make myself taller
Or smarter or handsome or wise
I'll do my best, what else can I do ?
Since I wasn't born perfect like Dad or you
Mom, I will try to
Try hard to make you
Proud of your boy
Today is my birthday.
And this is the song I Iisten to every year on my birthday.
And I don't what's coming
But I am my own design
And my whole life is a poem
And the words and the rhythm are mine.
This is the day I was born.
This is the day I begin.
I have learned to celebrate myself.
I'm in a very nonverbal space right now.
Sometimes words just don't work for me, at least not the ones that come without music.
Because the thoughts and feelings I have are too complex and unusual for the language I am capable of.
I wish I could sing with you, but I can only do that in person.
So I give you these videos sometimes, it's my way of singing to you.
I don't know why, exactly, "Wicked Little Town" is how I feel today, but it is.
You think that luck has left you there
But maybe there's nothing up in the sky but air
And there's no mystical design
No cosmic lover pre-assigned
There's nothing you can find
That cannot be found.
For all the changes you've been though
It seems the stranger's always you
Alone again in some new
Wicked little town
And when you've got no other choice
You know you can follow my voice
Through the dark turns and noise
Of this wicked little town.