ICC’s Penguin Players Program Set to Begin June 5

       The Illinois Central College Penguin Players program is set to begin rehearsals June 5 with a few changes from previous years to give even more students with special needs the opportunity to perform on stage.

Artists and mentors from Godspell, Jr. go through a number on stage during a 2015 ICC Penguin Players rehearsal (click image for larger version of photo).

       This year, the Penguin Players course is being offered through the ICC Corporate and Community Education Office rather than as an academic course. This change means the enrollment fee for participants this year is only $40 rather than hundreds of dollars as in previous years when cost was based on ICC tuition rate for academic classes.
       Another change is that Dr. Andy Morgan, founder of the Penguin Project, will be the director of this year’s production. Morgan served as a consultant for the Penguin Players in the past.
       “We support the goals of the Penguin Project and recognize the tremendous impact that participation in a theatre production can have on individuals with special needs,” said Kari Schimmel, dean of the ICC Arts and Communication Department. “We’re happy to help these young adults develop their creativity and teamwork skills and want to meet the needs of those individuals who have either aged out of the Penguin Project or are simply seeking additional creative endeavors.”
       The Penguin Players was created as a collaboration involving Illinois Central College and the Penguin Project. The program gives individuals with special needs the opportunity to participate in the performing arts. It is patterned after The Penguin Project, the successful local program which provides such opportunities to individuals 10 to 21 years old, but the Penguin Players program does not have an upper age limit.
       During its first year, 17 individuals enrolled in the Penguin Players program. In addition to cast members, the production includes peer mentors who work with participants with special needs and are present with them on stage during productions. Peer mentors are responsible for knowing all lines, songs and blocking for their partners.
       Participants in the ICC Penguin Players must register through the ICC Corporate and Community Education Office either online at cce.icc.edu/youth or by calling (309) 690-6900. Registrants should be aware there are two listings for the course–for students who participate as an artist or as a mentor–and make sure to register in the appropriate section.
       Rehearsals take place on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30. Participants work on the preparation and rehearsing for staging for a musical theatre production.
       This year’s production is titled Once Upon a Penguin: The Musical Story of the Penguin Project. The show will be a retrospective history of the Penguin Project with cast members sharing their memories and telling stories of what participation in past productions meant to them. Shows will take place early August on the main stage of the ICC Performing Arts Center, located on the East Peoria campus. Tickets will be available soon online at ArtsAtICC.com or by calling the ICC Performing Arts Center Box Office at (309) 694-5136.

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