High school musicals are a big deal at many high schools in our region, but Baldwin High School has an extra-musical this year. They are performing a brand new musical that was commissioned by Beacon College in Florida which is accredited for students with learning disabilities. The musical called “Normal-C” is about three special-needs teenagers, and it was written by a local playwright whose own teenaged children have special needs.
The performers in the show at Baldwin High School have embraced their characters. Chris Storms plays Ben who has Asperger Syndrom. “It’s different because, for me, I’m a very social person. My character is the complete opposite of what I am. So just being able to put myself in Ben’s shoes… it’s just all different,” Chris says.
Abbey Stark plays the character Chloe who has dyslexia. “This definitely gave me a different perspective to understand that everyone’s going through their own thing and to just not judge anyone if they seem a little bit different.”
Quintin Michalski plays Eddie who has non-verbal autism. “I feel as though this show shows you that normal is just being yourself.”
The story is about not only them but the struggles their families face too. Playwright J.R. Hall wrote from personal experience. He has a teenaged child with ADHD and another with non-verbal autism. “It’s a 24-hour job just keeping him safe,” Hall says.
J.R. and his wife and children met with the students for them to get a first-hand understanding of what it’s like.
Composer Jason Coll wrote all the songs and says Baldwin High School has an exceptional inclusion program for students with special needs. Many of the performers already had experience with fellow students with special needs, and many expressed they have their own individual challenges.
The show’s message is that maybe there is no normal or that we’re all normal. “Basically it’s about how teenage fears are all the same, no matter whether you have a disability or you don’t,” Coll says.
J.R. adds, “Sometimes we’re all trying to push people to the center… when maybe we should celebrate the people on the edges.”
You can see the musical “Normal-C” at Baldwin High School November 7-9 at 7 pm Tickets are $6 for students and $12.