VENICE, Fla. -- We see some great theatrical productions here on the Suncoast, but one coming up this weekend is really special.
The Loveland Center in Venice is dedicated to helping adults with developmental disabilities live their lives to the fullest, learn new skills, and have new experiences. And this weekend Loveland is partnering with the Venice Theatre to bring you the 19th Annual Loveland Follies.
The 2014 Loveland Follies, "The Century of Music," is written especially for the Loveland cast. "It takes place from the early 1900’s to the present time, and that includes 4 generations of one musical family," says director Becky Holahan.
There are some 50 performers from Loveland in the show. "They have to audition every year. We cast the people that are picked, we have understudies, we began rehearsals after Christmas."
And Holahan says they are going to put on the best show in town. "It's the best show because it's real, it's authentic, there's no pretense with the actors."
She says they give their all. "They are as professional as any professional group, and their talents come through stronger and bigger and they fill us with surprises and new challenges every year."
And for the performers, the show is one of the highlights of their year. "Gives them self-esteem, confidence, and so much joy."
"It makes me feel free enjoying myself and having fun…it's my passion."
They love the applause. "They cheer for you and you're like ‘wow, isn't it cool?’ It's awesome."
Two young actors well known on local stages are working with the Loveland performers. "I have learned differences don't matter. Everyone is pretty much the same on the inside…even if they have difficulties, they can overcome them," says 10-year-old Logan Schultz.
"I get it how they're very smart. They're very easy to teach, it's very fun," says 12-year-old Bailey Scott.
The audience is the biggest winner. "It will move you like no other theater; it's heart through and through.”
The Venice Theatre presents the 19th Annual Loveland Follies. It'll make you laugh, cry, you'll be on your feet applauding. The show runs Thursday through Saturday nights at 7pm, with a 2 pm matinee on Sunday.