Studio for Disabled Actors Staging Rock Musical

Performing Arts Studio West’s “Recovered” features actors who have appeared on “Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “Legit.”
Performing Arts Studio West

An ambitious, colorful and deeply personal stage production will hit Torrance Friday, when Performing Arts Studio West unleashes its original rock musical Recovered.

The performing arts studio works exclusively with actors with development disabilities, though Recovered’s creators don’t want that to be the focus of the show.

“We never want people to go ‘oh, that was a good show for people with disabilities,’” John Paizis, founder of Performing Arts Studio West, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We want people to go ‘God, that show just kicked ass.’ And we’ve gotten that consistently.”

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The conceit of Recovered is that a man (Nick Daley, who plans Rodney on FX’s Legit), returns to an abandoned theater and begins recalling memories from his life. Those recovered memories are manifested in the form of elaborate stage versions of songs by The Doors, Annie Lennox, The Beatles, The Police, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Duran Duran, The Animals and more.

Many of the songs were chosen to reflect the intense loneliness that can accompany a disability. Molly Patterson, who sings Radiohead’s “Creep” in the show, explains the lyrics speak to nagging feelings that everyone else is perfect while her character is not.

In the show, Patterson sings the song while looking into a fake mirror in which other actors appear and pose as her reflection. Mostly they are the types of famous and glamorous people she wishes she could be.

“It’s all about telling a story about a girl whose came from London or a different country not knowing where she is or what she’s doing,” Patterson says. “She feels like she’s just a total freak – a total weirdo and no one wants to be her friend.”

Among the actors featured in the show are Luke Zimmerman, who recently wrapped five seasons on Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Isaac Leyva, who has been tearing up the film festival circuit with his starring role opposite Alan Cumming in Any Day Now.

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“So much of the philosophy of our studio is we treat these guys like peers. We treat them like people we enjoy having in our life. We don’t pull any punches,” says Paizis of working with the actors. “We love them when we have to love them. We do the tough love when we have to do the tough love.”

Recovered will be performed for one night only Friday at 8 p.m. at Torrance Cultural Arts Center's James R. Armstrong Theater. Tickets can be obtained by making a tax-deductible donation of $25. Tickets include a studio recording of the music performed at the show. Tickets can be purchased by calling 310-674-1346 ext. 202. 

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