OWOSSO, Mich.–– Owosso Community Players will present The Boys Next Door this January. Audiences can head to the Lebowsky Center Jan. 15 – 17 and Jan. 22 – 24 to be filled with laughter and compassion as characters experience every triumph and tear life throws at them.
This funny yet touching story focuses on the lives of four men with disabilities, Arnold Wiggins, Norman Bulansky, Barry Klemper and Lucien P. Smith, who live under the watchful eye of Jack Palmer, a despairing social worker. The play, taking place over a two-month period, consists of brief vignettes and provides a humorous commentary on each of the men’s lives, with a few surprising turns.
Long-time OCP veterans Jerry Ciarlino, Michael Windnagle, Spencer Perrenoud and Artis White star as Arnold, Norman, Barry and Lucien. Quentin Brainerd rounds out the leading cast as Jack Palmer.
“This show speaks to me on a very personal level, as both of my handsome nephews and beautiful niece have autism,” says Windnagle. “We have never seen them as anything but blessings. That kind of love exists everywhere if we simply take the time to visit The Boys Next Door.”
Linda Keenan and Anna Owens both play a hand in the direction of the show.
“Being a part of the cast has definitely been an eye-opener and holds a special meaning for me,” explains Ciarlino. “I work as a school counselor with children of different abilities. This play has given me the ability to look through their eyes and see the certain struggles they experience every day.”
The Boys Next Door is presented in celebration of the 60th anniversary of The Arc Shiawassee County, a nonprofit that advocates and assists people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“The individuals I work with every day are the most accepting, generous individuals I know,” says Lynn Grubb, executive director of The Arc. “I’m hoping that The Boys Next Door will bring more awareness about individuals with disabilities in our community and create a greater degree of acceptance.”
Director Anna Owens and the cast spent time with members of The Arc at their annual Christmas party on Dec. 14 to get a better sense of their upcoming roles.
“Our hope with The Boys Next Door is to create awareness of the joys and blessing that people with disabilities can add to our lives,” says Keenan. “The show is highly entertaining, extremely funny and incredibly poignant.”
The Boys Next Door runs Jan. 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. and Jan. 17 and 24 at 3 p.m. at the Lebowsky Center in Owosso. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13.50 for seniors and students and $7.50 for children 13 and under. Tickets are available by calling 989.723.4003 or online at www.owossoplayers.com/tickets. The Boys Next Door is generously sponsored by Welcome Home Assisted Living.