Gather ‘round, pardners, there’s a new theater troupe in town. The Wild Westminster Players are premiering their first show at Winters Mill High School, Saturday, Dec. 2.

The Wild Westminster Players are a theater troupe built out of Recreation and Parks’ Adaptive Recreation program, built for individuals with disabilities from teenagers to adults. During the free show, the eight performers take on many different roles as they take audiences through a tour of the four seasons. Director Beth Burgess said that it’s been a learning experience for everyone as they try and get this off the ground.


“We’re all new at this,” Burgess said. “The idea was to find everyone’s skill levels and interest, and then start building a show organically without an agenda.”

Debbie Gemmill, therapeutic recreation specialist, said the idea for the group came about as an offshoot of the Barrier Free Theater productions, when they realized they needed a less complex production that could best fit with the actors’ passions and skills.

During the first rehearsal, they played games and picked out some interests that could be turned into songs and skits for the show.

Some of the ideas that came out of the concept stew included a love of Halloween, magic and excitement around the Disney film “Moana.” From there, Burgess weaved these ideas together into a series of segments based around spring, summer, autumn and winter.

One of the segments features Melissa Silverman and her father doing a short magic show built around the colors of spring. Silverman is no stranger to the stage, and frequently does self-advocacy public speaking engagements. She said she likes entertaining people the way a dancer or musician does with her magic. When it comes to being on stage, she and her father have simple motto.

“He’s nervous,” Silverman said. “I’m not.”

One of the most elaborate sequences in the show consists of the actors miming out actions to songs from “Moana” complete with elaborate screen-accurate costumes. Sean McCann, who plays Maui, said he’s excited to be playing the same role as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

“He’s a strong guy and he has a great voice,” McCann said. “That’s my man.”

During the show, it occasionally embraces some unique, abstract visuals. During a performance to Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” the eight performers are draped in darkness, with black lights making their bright white gloves glow on stage. They use this glow and their hands to act out and mime the lyrics of the song.

Ralph Gemmill said it’s exciting to come so close to the end of rehearsals.

“People are gonna come to the show and it’s gonna be a blast,” Gemmill said. “Everybody will like it. Just look at it. It’s beautiful.”

Burgess said this program has been hugely important both to the students and also to herself. By the end of rehearsals, she said, she felt like she got more than she gave out of the experience.

“For the students, this is a place to get more experience and have fun participating and learning and having a community gathering,” Burgess said. “They get to know each other and me and learn all these different skits and songs. It’s a wonderful program for people with challenges and disabilities, because through their own interests they become experts and contribute in many ways through theater.”

Burgess said she hopes the community takes a chance to come out and see the performance live on Saturday.


“It’s important for the community to acknowledge that we all have skills and interests and abilities,” Burgess said. “They should be engaged with that and that’s a good thing. Being around these guys is such a positive, encouraging, refreshing experience I hope everyone gets a chance to experience.”