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Garland Wins 2016 Excellence in Programming Committee's Choice Award

Garland received the 2016 Excellence in Programming Committee’s Choice Award for “Dramapalooza,” a theater arts program for adults with special needs.

The award was given by the Texas Recreation and Parks Society North Region at their annual conference at the Plano Centre on Nov. 4.

Dramapalooza, created in 2003, gives adults with various disabilities the opportunity to learn all about musical theater performance and production. Each year a group of 15 to 20 performers embark on a journey to learn lines, songs, dances and more in an intense three-week program culminating in a public performance at the Granville Arts Center. 

Lory Stewart, a teacher in the Garland Independent School District, adapts or creates a different musical each year for the group. The performers are exposed to the full cultural arts experience through this class. Productions include costuming, scripts, solos, group musical performances, choreography and teamwork. Each element of this unique program helps to promote independence, self-confidence and a sense of belonging. Accommodations are made to meet the needs of each performer, which include individuals who are non-verbal, individuals who use wheelchairs and individuals with social anxiety. No part is a small part in Dramapalooza—every participant is given a chance to shine bright on stage regardless of ability.

The inaugural performance was The Wizard of Oz and held in the small theater at the Granville Arts Center. The shows over the years have included major musical hits as well one-of-a-kind shows created around the performers themselves. As the years have passed, the performances have grown, evolved and been moved to the large theater, drawing in close to 200 audience members each year. Dramapalooza has been featured on the cable show Arts in Action, highlighted in The Dallas Morning News, Guidelive.com, Neighbors Go, Garland City Press, social media and various email newsletters. 

“Anyone who has seen or been involved with the program will tell you that from the moment it starts, you can't help but smile and immerse yourself in the joy and excitement that radiates from the stage,” said Recreation Services Supervisor Heather Lambert, who nominated Dramapalooza for the award.

Dramapalooza’s next performance is at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Granville Arts Center, 300 N. Fifth St.