Adaptive Program Partners with School for Performance of Lion King Jr.


The City of Mesa’s Adaptive Program has again partnered with Red Mountain High School for the inclusive Adaptive Off-Broadway Theater program. It pairs individuals with intellectual disabilities with theater students from the high school. The group will perform “Lion King Jr.” Thursday, June 9 and Friday, June 10 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, June 11 at 2 p.m. at Red Mountain High School, 7301 E. Brown Road. It is their first public performance since 2019 due to the pandemic.

The City began partnering with Mesa Public Schools in 2015 to implement Adaptive Off-Broadway Theater, allowing theater students to act as a shadow to an individual with an intellectual disability while performing. The inaugural season had seven adaptive participants and six theater students. The program has more than tripled in size and now offers a fall and spring session.

“Mesa’s Adaptive Off-Broadway Theater allows individuals with disabilities to enjoy gaining peer relationships with the student volunteers and improve their skill levels because of the one-on-one attention and support they get from the volunteers,” said Oscar Venegas, Mesa Recreation Supervisor. “It is very rewarding to see children of all abilities work together, adapt to each other’s strengths and learn to understand and accept each other. The adaptive theatre members and our staff are extremely happy to resume the program after being unable to perform the last two years.”

While the adaptive participants are in the cast, the theatre students help with all of the production such as lighting, choreography, props and helping the adaptive individuals with their speaking lines. 

Tickets for the performances are $7 and can be purchased at the door. All proceeds benefit the City of Mesa Adaptive Program and Arizona Disabled Sports.

The social and recreational opportunities provided by the City’s Adaptive Program focus on abilities to enhance independence, improve social skills, increase self-esteem, connect people and families with community resources, provide opportunities to contribute to society, promote community integration and increase disability awareness.