by Frances Edstrom
My granddaughters were disappointed to hear that the annual musical produced by Home and Community Options, which this year was to be “Annie,” was postponed until next year because of the pandemic. They were thinking about auditioning, and even if they hadn’t, they always love to see the shows put on by HCO.
I was beyond disappointed! The HCO shows have been my treat for an annual family outing for many years. Before I had grandchildren, I would search for kids my friends knew who would like to see the shows. I have fond memories of those early shows. One in particular, “Children of Eden,” sticks in my mind. It’s based on the Book of Genesis, with good musical acts and some humor thrown in. However, at the end of Act I, the audience is shocked into silence (even though they know the story) as the conflict accelerates and Cain kills Abel. In this silence, the little boy sitting in front of me said, in a voice that could be heard throughout the theater, “Uh-oh!” The silent tension was broken, and the audience began to giggle. Uh-oh! Isn’t that the truth.
Last year’s “My Fair Lady” was a huge hit. I knew some of the individuals served by HCO who were in the play, as I had interviewed them for stories in the HCO newsletter. I loved seeing them up there on stage, so excited to be singing, dancing, and acting. And I loved to see the audience reaction, mirrored by my granddaughters, of accepting without question or reaction the fact that many members of the cast and crew were individuals who not so many years ago would have been languishing in institutions.
In addition to being a perfect family outing and a great way to mesh people with developmental disabilities with the greater community, the annual musical is a major fundraiser for HCO. HCO relies on government funding and donations. Government funding can be extremely volatile, and especially so in times of economic strife. We don’t know yet what this pandemic will mean for HCO funding.
But guess what!? For those of us who are used to enjoying the musical at the end of June and will be going through withdrawal, HCO offered short videos featuring different people who would have been involved in “Annie.” The videos are available on HCO’s Facebook page and on their website, hco.org. The effort is being called, “The Show Must Go On.” Letters have gone out asking those of us who supported the musical with ticket purchases, patronage, and advertising to find it in our hearts to support HCO even in the absence of “Annie.”
Please enjoy the videos and help HCO weather the pandemic. Let’s pack HCO’s mailbox with donations the way we packed the theater to see their shows!