Mesa's Adaptive Program puts on off-Broadway performance of the 'Lion King Jr.'
The city of Mesa’s Adaptive Program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is partnering with a local high school to perform "The Lion King Jr."
Bella Walpole got bit by the acting bug a few years ago after her mom signed her up Mesa’s Adaptive Program, which includes Special Olympics, cooking classes and off-Broadway theater.
"I am Bella Walpole and I am a student slash actress in the upcoming show 'The Lion King' and I play Timon," she said.
Bella has autism, and she wanted to get out of her comfort zone.
"It has changed me so much," she said. "I am now able to, for three years, I am able to perform in front of thousands of people. I am able to talk and do skits and do all of this fun stuff."
Matt Erickson is the theater director at Red Mountain High School.
"So, this is open to anybody: anybody with a disability, anybody that may not have had the opportunity to be in a regular production," Erickson said.
And they make modifications as needed.
"So, if they need a little prompt on their line, or they need a little help with choreography, they have a buddy there to give them the energy, give them a boost and push them forward," Erickson said.
This will be the troupe’s first performance since the pandemic started. "The Lion King Jr." is playing through Saturday.