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Gallaudet alumni participate in Broadway revival of “Children of a Lesser God”

February 14, 2018
By Andrew Greenman, ’10

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From left: Caverly, Santimyer, and DiMarco.

An upcoming Broadway revival of Children of a Lesser God, directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon, starting April 11, 2018, at Studio 54 in New York City, will feature two alumnus, Tami Santimyer, G-’05 and James Caverly, ’11. Santimyer will understudy for the characters Sarah Norman and Lydia, and Caverly for Orin Dennis. This revival is produced by Nyle DiMarco, ’13, who was the winner of 2015’s America’s Next Top Model and Dancing With The Stars in 2016. Lauren Ridloff, a graduate from Model Secondary School for the Deaf, also is involved in the revival. Ridloff, who was born deaf, will sign onstage opposite Joshua Jackson.

Children of a Lesser God tells the story of James Leeds, a teacher at a school for the deaf, and Sarah Norman, former star pupil, and how they connect and embark on a journey that will forever change their lives.

Santimyer called her selection an honor.

“The fact that this is Broadway and that I get to work with an amazing team, including Joshua Jackson who starred in Dawson’s Creek, is humbling,” said Santimyer. “Knowing that I can go on stage at any moment for either character is nerve-wracking, as I enjoy a good challenge. It is my responsibility to know the ins and outs of the job and to always be ready. At the same time, I need to honor the main actors’ work.”

Caverly agreed, saying that historically, there were not many productions on Broadway with deaf actors.

“Previously, Runaways with Bruce Hlibok, Big River and Spring Awakening with Deaf West Theatre, Prymate with Phyllis Frelich, and a brief appearance of Arsenic and Old Lace by the Dramatic Club of Gallaudet College featured deaf actors,” said Caverly. “For too long, the deaf community has been underrepresented on Broadway shows. I am happy to be an understudy for this because not only this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me but it is a chance for the deaf community to be ‘heard’ in the theatre world. And in doing so, I’m hoping more theatre companies will take notice and produce plays with deaf actors in them.”

Santimyer believes there is a connection between the original Children of a Lesser God production and the need to bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing communities.

“The story reminds everyone that deaf people have the same aspirations as everyone and that communication can be made if both parties make an effort,” said Santimyer. “Thanks to the Internet, we can bridge the gap, though I have to say it is far from over. We have made many strides since the 1980s, but we have more work to do.

“I think the deaf community will appreciate how far we have evolved as a community.”

Dr. Phyllis Frelich, ’67, was the original Sarah Norman in the 1980 Broadway show, in which she won a Tony award. Santimyer looks forward to carrying Frelich’s legacy. “Frelich was a wonderful teacher who gave me many lessons about acting in particular. She taught me why sharing stories are so vital to help us understand our place in the grand scheme of things,” said Santimyer.

You can buy tickets and view more information about the production here.

14 February 2018
By Andrew Greenman, ’10

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Andrew Greenman, ’10

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