Sun Prairie theater group hosts June 26 UnOpening Night virtual fundraiser

Theaters are dark. Opening nights are cancelled. Yet, a local Sun Prairie theatre group decided not to let a setback stop it from finding a way for the public to celebrate its artists and mentors.

On Friday, June 26, The Penguin Project of SPCT will host a special UnOpening Night virtual fundraiser, on what should have been the opening night of the group’s production of Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man Jr.” But, the pandemic hit. And, the production was moved to late spring 2021.

“We were heartbroken to move the performance,” said program director Betsy Wolfe when discussing the reason for creating the event. “And, we knew we needed to mark the day with a special show of support for our Penguins as they wait for their chance to soar on stage.”

Those interested in attending Friday’s UnOpening Night are asked to buy a virtual ticket to a show that doesn’t exist, wear pajamas if they’d like, gather the food and beverage of their choice and stay home. The event includes a video that celebrates the artists and mentors involved with this year’s production that evening at 7 p.m. on Facebook. More information on how to watch the video will be sent to ticket holders prior to the performance.

Purchase tickets to The Penguin Project’s UnOpening Night at sunprairiecivictheatre.com/tickets.html. Ticket prices start at $15. All tickets are considered tax-deductible charitable donations.

The Penguin Project of SPCT is a performing arts program that makes theatre accessible to young people with special needs. Each year, a group of artists from the greater Madison area take to the stage to perform a modified version of a well-known Broadway musical. This production is unique because all the roles are filled by children with special needs: cognitive, learning, motor, hearing, and visual impairments, genetic disorders, and neurological disorders.

Artists are joined on the stage by peer mentors who volunteered to work side-by-side and guide them during five months of rehearsals and the final production. The mentors are responsible for knowing the lines, songs, and blocking of their partners but appear “in the background” to provide direct assistance if needed. Involvement in the program enhances social interaction, strengthens communication skills and boosts self-confidence. It also provides an opportunity to create lasting friendships and to be a part of the performing arts community

Established in 2004, The Penguin Project has evolved into a national program with 43 chapters throughout the United States. The Sun Prairie Civic Theatre chapter was the ninth chapter. The program provides a supportive environment for children with disabilities to explore their creative talents. Learn more about Penguin Project at penguinproject.org.

Sun Prairie Civic Theatre is a community of volunteers sharing their time and talent to educate people of all ages in the experience of live theater on stage, backstage and in the audience. SPCT celebrates its 50th anniversary this fall.

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