Bonnie Gleicher is all about celebrating one's differences.
And now, thanks to her show "Addy & Uno," her passion for showcasing what makes us each special is being recognized -- off-Broadway.
The musical, just signed for an extended run at Theatre Row -- it had been at the 14th Street Y Theater in New York City for most of September -- uses puppets and upbeat music to highlight the struggles of a child with autism as he competes in his school's math competition.
It also focuses on other children with (and without) varying disabilities (such as ADHD, visual, hearing and physical impairment) and how they rally and support each other. (See earlier Daily Voice story here.)
Gleicher, the show's 29-year-old composer and lyricist, said "Addy & Uno" -- directed by Emmy-nominee Donna Drake (Netflix's "Julie's Greenroom") and co-written by Nava Silton, Ph.D. -- has been affecting audiences in meaningful ways.
"After one of the performances, the kids raised their hands with their stories -- how they've been bullying their brother who has autism and how, after seeing the show, they're going to stop. Many also talked about how they themselves have ADHD, how their dad has ADHD," she said.
"This personal, honest conversation just poured out of them. When the kids left, two producers who were also in the audience [Tom and Michael D'Angora of "Newsical" and "The Marvelous Wonderettes"] stood on the stage and said that they had to produce this off-Broadway immediately.
"The producers see the big picture, how it changes and unites people, no matter their obstacles."
Gleicher, to an extent, feels like writing musicals is what she was born to do. The Armonk native said she spent her childhood singing in the woods.
"From a young age, I had a village of imaginary friends which, looking back, was a lot like creating the characters in a show," she said.
She was also a performer, going in and out of Manhattan to audition for roles. She travelled the U.S. in the Broadway tour of "Annie" and also served as a cast member in "Jane Eyre," the musical on Broadway. In high school -- she's a 2006 Byram Hills High School grad -- she started writing music, and in college, she wrote her first musical and fell in love with the process.
At the moment, in fact, she's working on another musical called "Little Things," about a tyrannical principal who cancels recess and the band of fourth graders who fight to get it back. But she's also seeking her next project and is open to ideas.
She said the biggest joy in this whole process -- "Addy & Uno" has been a year-and-a-half in the making -- has been the career validation and heartfelt audience reaction.
"The journey from creation to fruition can be so difficult, full of so many ups and downs," she said.
"It takes a great belief in what you're doing to fuel you through the challenges.
"Once I saw how adults and kids responded to the show, I was hooked.
"People with disabilities are so unseen and unheard. I'm so happy they have a story on a stage and a song to sing."
Tickets for Addy & Uno are on sale through Jan.14 at the Kirk Theatre at Theater Row. The show is suitable for all ages but best for those four to 12. Go to www.addyanduno.com.
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