Valley audiences have an opportunity to see a special performance by Detour Company Theatre this weekend, when Detour returns to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts with “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.”
An adaption of the play “Beauty and the Beast” that ran on Broadway for 13 years, “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” is the tale of Belle, who yearns to escape her provincial life, and the Beast, who is really no Beast at all. If he can learn to love and be loved, the spell will be broken, and he’ll be transformed.
A tale of transformation and finding strength in one another seems especially apropos. Founded in 2000, Detour Company Theatre’s mission is to create authentic, accessible theater opportunities for adults and youth who have developmental disabilities.
“I was looking for a real theater program that would accept my son,” says Sam, Detour’s founder and artistic director. (Sam goes by one name, like Cher.) “When I couldn’t find one, I gathered up a few caring friends, my son and his friends, and we began.”
Detour performs two shows annually — each taking 16 weeks to produce. A dedicated professional production team is assembled to meet the actors’ needs (sign-language interpreters, audio describers, acting coaches, etc.) and takes the participants, usually 40 or more, through a full rehearsal schedule. In addition each season, more than 75 volunteers help out by serving cast meals, applying makeup, painting sets or making costumes.
The productions — including rehearsals, staffing, coaching, wardrobe, volunteers and cast resources — are organized by Sam and Detour, but Scottsdale Arts acts as a partner and provides a venue for rehearsals and performances, tech and stage support and marketing. It’s a natural fit, as the program aligns with Scottsdale Arts Education initiatives and provides an opportunity for the community to enjoy the production and for the actors to experience a professional theater environment.
“A pillar of our education and outreach initiative is to ensure the arts are accessible to all regardless of age or ability,” says Natalie Marsh, director of education for Scottsdale Arts. “From school programs to adult tours, we work with teachers and community groups to provide experiences for children and adults with diverse learning needs.”
Detour “began with a dream,” says Sam, and the journey since then has been filled with both challenges and rewards. One current challenge is that the nonprofit Detour wants to continue to say yes to every actor who asks to join, and to do that, “We could use more time, more space and more transportation, which means we need more money,” Sam says.
Detour’s productions are made possible by the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations, including the Scottsdale Arts Community Arts Grant Program. As for rewards, that’s simple, says Sam, starting with the joy on the faces of the actors.
“There is nothing like that pride, confidence and sense of wondrous excitement. I’m tremendously proud that we work as a team, a family,” Sam says. “Detour is what it is because of every single person involved. Each adds something unique, and all of that creates the magic.”
If you go: Friday-Sunday Jan. 6-8; 1 and 7 p.m. Friday; 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. Second St., Scottsdale. Free admission; donations appreciated. 480-499-8587 or scottsdaleperformingarts.org.