On April 3rd, The Help Group once again hosted a Music for Autism concert on the Sherman Oaks campus. Music Director and pianist Ryan Cantwell joined The Help Group stage for the fourth time, and brought a few of the multi-talented cast members of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory – currently enjoying a terrific run at The Pantages Theater – along with additional seasoned performers.
For this special assembly, students from Bridgeport, Sunrise and Village Glen schools filled the Autism Center with excitement as they awaited the concert’s start. Dr. Barbara Firestone, Help Group President and CEO, kicked off the hour with a few remarks and introductions of performers.
Sabrina Harper, a Broadway singer who has performed with Music for Autism before, gave a warm welcome to all the students. The cast then opened the show with “Pure Imagination” – a memorable classic from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
The rest of the concert included Disney songs like “Part Of Your World” from The Little Mermaid; “Let It Go” from Frozen; “Practically Perfect” from Mary Poppins and “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King.
In a touching and uplifting moment, Collin Jeffrey, who plays Charlie in the show, sang “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman. He was joined on stage by members of The Help Group Children’s Choir who had recently performed the powerful song at this year’s Teddy Bear Ball.
“It’s so fulfilling for us to share our voice with the children, to see the happiness on their faces, and listen to them sing right along with us. What a beautiful way for them to express themselves. To bring the arts and music to the students of The Help Group today was really special,” said Sabrina.
One of the performers, Brynn Williams, remarked, “I have three brothers and two are on the autism spectrum. It was so wonderful to be able to be here, and sing and share music with the students the way I do with my brothers back home.”
The concert ended on a high note – with Ryan Cantwell teaching the students a lesson in conducting and percussion. Everyone in the audience joined in during this interactive portion of the show.
“How special that Ryan and such a talented group of performers could join us as we recognize National Autism Awareness Month. We are so thrilled that they could share their artistry and warm hearts with some of the young people of The Help Group. The opportunity for our students to dance and sing along with them was truly a gift,” said Dr. Firestone.
Brad Shahine, Director of Public Affairs, and Dr. Firestone presented the musical guests with special presents for each to take home. The performers even stayed after the concert to take photos with the enthusiastic young people.
Our heartfelt thanks to our Music for Autism friends, performers Sabrina Harper, Jennifer Jill Malenke, Brynn Williams, Rasmus Borkowski, Henry Boshart, Collin Jeffrey, Clyde Voce, Greg German, Music Director Ryan Cantwell and the amazing faculty of The Help Group for making this concert such a wonderful afternoon for the children.
2.Help Group Children’s Choir Members Bella and Jett, Dr. Barbara Firestone, and Collin Jeffrey
3.Sabrina Harper, Brynn Williams, Jennifer Jill Malenke, Henry Boshart, Rasmus Borkowski
4.Henry Boshart, Rasmus Borkowski, Collin Jeffrey
5. Dr. Mary Bauman, Clinical Director at The Help Group, and a Help Group student
6.Henry Boshart sings with a Help Group student