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Denver Theater Featuring Disabled Cast Gains Popularity

NewsHour correspondent Betty Ann Bowser reports on a unique theater troupe in Denver that employs actors with mental and physical disabilities.

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  • BETTY ANN BOWSER, NewsHour Correspondent:

    It's less than 30 minutes to show time. The scarecrow is getting last-minute touches to his makeup.

  • JULIET VILLA, “Dorothy” (singing):

    Strong and tall…

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Meanwhile, Dorothy and the rest of the cast go up to the stage for last-minute vocal warm-ups. The PHAMALy Theater Company of Denver is about to perform "The Wiz," the 1979 musical based on the story of "The Wizard of Oz."

    DON GABENSKI, "Uncle Henry": Now, as far as I can tell, there's a cyclone a-brewin'.

  • JULIET VILLA:

    Ah, Uncle Henry, I know where I'm going.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    But that is where all similarities to all other productions of this show end.

  • JULIET VILLA (singing):

    You're standing strong and tall…

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    In this "Wiz," the Cowardly Lion and Dorothy are blind. Her service dog plays Toto. The scarecrow is nearly deaf, and the Tin Man is a Tin Girl in a wheelchair.

    REGAN LINTON, "Tin Girl" (singing): Come on, slide some oil down my throat…

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Twenty-four-year-old Regan Linton was paralyzed in an automobile accident four years ago.

  • REGAN LINTON:

    I sing one song, "What Would I Do If I Could Feel?"

    What would I do if I could feel?

    It resonates with me on so many different levels, not just because of the fact that I'm paralyzed, but more just kind of some of the emotional challenges I've gone through in the past few years with my accident and, you know, wondering, am I still a whole person? Am I still who I was before? And realizing that I am.

  • BETTY ANN BOWSER:

    Linton is not the only actor in the musical who's been testing their mettle because this may be the one theater company in the world where you have to have a physical or mental disability to get a role.

  • GROUP OF PERFORMERS (singing):

    Can you see the brand new day?