Confidence Blooms in 'Christmas Carol'

Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Brian prepares for his stage debut as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Someone once told Brian Loughary he would make a good actor, but he didn't believe it.

Now, as he is preparing to take the stage for "A Christmas Carol" in less than a week, he is proving to himself and others that he does possess the talent to act. In his first role, Brian will be portraying Ebenezer Scrooge.

He, along with dozens of developmentally disabled adults, will perform the Dickens' classic on Saturday at the Shuck Recital Hall at Southeast Missouri State University. The performers are part of Project Stage Light, the new cultural arts program for children and adults with special needs, sponsored by the Association for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (AID), a division of VIP.

Brian, who has never acted before, said he is glad the opportunity came about and wanted to take part in the new project because it sounded like fun. While his experience has been just that, he also has taken away much more.

"I think I have more confidence that I can do anything I put my mind to," Brian said.

Andy Holland, production supervisor at VIP Industries, could not agree more.

"He's a lot more confident in everything he does," Holland said.

The supervisor recalls when Brian first started at the workshop he hardly talked to anyone. Throughout the years, he has opened up more and now he is one of the most talkative employees.

He has also seen positive changes in the other cast members he works with, noting that their confidence has increased as well. Holland believes Project Stage Light is an excellent opportunity for these individuals to be able to pursue activities they would not otherwise attempt.

"But now maybe they will," he said.

Jim and Carolyn Andrews echoed Holland's enthusiasm for the project. The couple's son, Patrick, is in the upcoming play.

"I think it's really great," Jim Andrews said. "We are enthused."

The couple recently got to see a sneak peak of the performance while attending a Thanksgiving feast at VIP with their son.

"I was really impressed with the whole thing. I love the way they did it," Jim Andrews said. "We were both flabbergasted by the costumes."

He went on to explain how he thought having a narrator throughout the play was a good idea, as he was able to jump in when needed or prompt them if they got stuck with a line.

Meagan Edmonds, director of the play, was also happy with the rehearsal, which was the first one done in front of an audience.

"We had a few spots that didn't go as planned, but that is live theater for you," Edmonds said. "Our actors handled everything gracefully."

That grace is exactly what the Andrews saw, as they never noticed any problem areas and said the performance ran smoothly.

"It was better than I expected," admitted Carolyn Andrews, adding that she had expected to see some stage fright.

She was also impressed to see how many people were involved in the play, adding that she is sure Edmonds had no idea just how many would be interested in acting.

"I'm so tickled to see it," Carolyn Andrews said. "I think VIP is going in the right direction."

Additional theater and cultural arts opportunities, such as art and music programs, are slated for development next year. If you, or someone you know, is developmentally disabled and is interested in participating in Project Stage Light, please contact Lori at 573-334-1166 for more information.

If you are interested in volunteering as a peer mentor, guiding a performer through the rehearsals and performances planned for next year, please contact us. Mentors of all ages are needed. To find out more information, our new website currently under construction, is located at

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