MARCH 4, 2011 – In the first performance of its kind in the St. Louis area, fourth-graders at Marvin Elementary School in the Ritenour School District will take the stage in the production of "No Such Thing as Normal," a musical about autism. A free, public performance will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 10 in the school's gymnasium. Marvin Elementary School is located at 3510 Woodson Road.
"No Such Thing as Normal" is a fun, age-appropriate musical about a young boy with autism on a field trip at a museum. The script and lyrics educate audiences about autism, how it exhibits itself in some people's behavior and how we can learn about the needs of those who have autism.
The performance is the result of a collaboration between Marvin Elementary, Stages St. Louis, and VSA Missouri, a statewide organization promoting access to the arts for people with disabilities.
"This is a great way to share information about autism with our students, families and community," said Marvin Principal Mary Beth Fortney. "This play is very relevant for our students because all autism classrooms in Ritenour are located at our school. Through this musical, our students can learn new ways to interact with their peers and important life lessons outside of the classroom. It is something they will never forget."
The performance is the culmination of nearly six months of work. More than 90 fourth-graders worked with representatives from Stages and VSA Missouri to prepare for the show.
"Working in the classroom each week with these fourth-graders has been a real joy," said Rob Grumich, Director of Education and Outreach for Stages. "The students have certainly learned more about autism. The conversations and questions that have come up have been a wonderful way for the students to learn about a sensitive subject that may not otherwise be addressed. It's been an education, couched within the fun of singing, dancing and acting!"
After the musical, parents and the community are invited to participate in a 30-minute panel discussion with an autism expert. For more information, call 314-493-6430.
Photo: Rob Grumich (right), Director of Education & Outreach for STAGES St. Louis, works with fourth graders at Marvin Elementary as they prepare for the performance of "No Such Thing as Normal" - a musical about autism - on Thursday, March 10. The musical is free and open to the public. Photo courtesy of Ritenour School District.