Song and dance, card tricks and comedy, storybook tales brought to life, it all came together in a vaudeville show called “Way Off Broadway.”
The performers — some in wheelchairs, some who used their hands or vocal sounds instead of words — brought down the house and evoked tears in an appreciative audience.
Wednesday night’s talent show was staged by All Aboard. The Everett-based nonprofit provides social and educational activities for adults with special needs.
“Performing is good for everybody’s self-esteem,” said Seanna Herring-Jensen, All Aboard’s program manager.
With a motto of “the sky’s the limit,” about 25 people each weekday meet in the lower level of the Knights of Columbus hall on W. Marine View Drive. There are classes in art, drama, science and yoga; life-skills sessions, karaoke sing-alongs, and show-and-tell. On Tuesday mornings, the group bowls at Bowlero in Lynnwood.
“Overall, we have about 350 people,” said Marie Waller, a board member with the nonprofit who with her late husband, Gene Rogoway, helped start All Aboard in 2002. “It’s fun to do this,” Waller said of the talent show.
For Waller, an extra-special part of the show was a performance of the feel-good anthem “I Believe I Can Fly,” by her son, Mike Rogoway, and Aaron Radabaugh.
Calling their duo the American Crooner & the Corkscrew Kid — one wearing a shirt and tie, the other in wildly colored tie-dye — Rogoway and Radabaugh were the last act before Herring-Jensen and other All Aboard staff had everybody up and dancing with their wacky rendition of the Go-Gos’ “We Got the Beat.”
Raucous rock and pop performances were interspersed with poignant songs and bits of comedy and melodrama.
Calling themselves the Bravest Kids in Town, a troupe of players acted out scenes from “The Three Little Pigs” and “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” as All Aboard art and music teacher Shannon Leah Danks read the stories.
Like a clip from an action movie, bandit Edward Barnhart, in prison-garb stripes, was chased down by Sam Lu. Dressed as a snappy policeman, Lu went on to sing “Bad Boys,” the theme song for the TV show “Cops.” At All Aboard, Herring-Jensen said, Barnhart is an all-around good guy, helping with bingo and acting as the organization’s disc jockey.
There were sweet songs and touching moments, among them a solo by Beth Anderson. Billed as the Divine Songbird, she bravely performed “Bring Him Home,” a plaintive tune from the musical Les Misérables.
The show, directed by Heidi Heimarck and Heather Wandler, was supported by donations from the Nysether Family Foundation and Brent’s Fund for Disabilities and a grant from Everett’s Cultural Arts Commission. Proceeds from a silent auction during intermission were to be used for art supplies.
All Aboard has all kinds of needs, including donations to help pay fees — $19 per session or $10 for bowling — for people attending its programs. The greatest need is a bigger meeting place.
“We rent the downstairs” of the Knights of Columbus building, said Herring-Jensen. “We’re bursting at the seams. We’re looking for a larger space, and want to stay in Everett.”
Waller agreed. “Most definitely, people are waiting to come in. We’re really at capacity,” she said. Waller added that All Aboard outgrew a previous space on Broadway in Everett several years back.
With two other board members, Kathy Burke and Renee Jones, Waller got in on the act. The trio, part of the organization’s seven-member board, marched to the buzz of a kazoo and sang “hurrah, hurrah” in an adaptation of the kids’ song “The Ants Go Marching.”
Before the show, Burke talked about how valuable All Aboard has been for her son, Andy Burke, now 31. “He’s been in the program 10 or 11 years,” she said. After finishing special education in school, All Aboard became a new place for him to find friends and purpose, Burke said.
When Andy first joined the group, his mother said, he’d sit in a chair by the door. “All of a sudden, he was helping with art supplies and projects,” Burke said. He later became a storyteller with the group, she said.
Helena Springer’s Wednesday night performance was a patriotic crowd-pleaser.
Wearing a Statue of Liberty headdress and sitting in a wheelchair, Springer waved a red paper torch and sang “This Land Is Your Land.” Small American flags were handed out for the audience to wave during her song. And Woody Guthrie’s lyrics emphasized the evening’s message — inclusion for all.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; email@example.com.
All Aboard, a nonprofit serving adults with special needs, meets weekdays 9 a.m.-noon and 12:30-3:30 p.m. in the lower level of the Knights of Columbus building, 2913 W. Marine View Drive, Everett. On Tuesdays, 9:45 a.m.-noon, the group meets at Bowlero Lanes, 1222 164th St. SW, Lynnwood. Weekday sessions are $19 each; bowling $10.
All Aboard is seeking a larger meeting place.
Information: 425-327-5533 or www.allaboardwa.org