The outfit — a program of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta — has worn the distinction of being Georgia’s only theatrical company directed and produced by professionals, featuring actors with developmental disabilities like a badge of honor.
Those out in front and behind the scenes will celebrate the landmark entity’s anniversary with its production of the 50s-style musical “Grease: The School Version.”
Laura Dinerman, a co-chair of Habima Theatre’s 20th anniversary, has also been around since its inception.
“I don’t think we had any idea of what kind of impact it would have on the actors and how they would grow from the experience over the years,” said Dinerman. “Seeing the change in their confidence has been a phenomenal thing to watch.”
“Grease” will run March 7 through 17 at the center’s Morris and Rae Frank Theater in Dunwoody.
Like other Habima Theatre productions, the show is professionally directed by Dina Shadwell and features local theatre artists as well as interns from the community center’s theatre company, Company J.
Saba Silverman, Habima’s founding chair, marveled at its progression. “Twenty years ago, I had to beg my friends to come and donate some money to support the show,” Silverman recalled. “Now, Habima is a nationally-acclaimed, annual event that is a go-to for Atlanta audiences. It has gone beyond my wildest dreams. I am so amazed and awed each time I see a performance … leave every show with a huge smile on my face.”
The Habima project has also been on the receiving end of its fair share of recognition.
It was the 2007 recipient of the Spirit of Suzi Bass Award for its “long-term and consistent contribution to professionalism” in Atlanta theatre.
“The focus is on abilities,” Dinerman noted. “For the [developmentally disabled] population to be able to get up there and perform and for them to get that warmth from the audience … it’s a win-win for everybody.”
General admission tickets for “Grease” are $35; $25 for center members. Tickets for children 12 and under range from $10 to $12.