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‘Wonder’ Moves Audience

The Town of Oyster Bay’s “One Town, One Book” selection Wonder was performed live by The Patio Players, a Plainview-based theater group, and sponsor of the Men’s Club of the Plainview Jewish Center, last Thursday evening at the Plainview Library.

Presented by Town of Oyster Bay Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia and Plainview Library Director Gretchen Brown, the free performance featured Jimmy O’Neal as August (Auggie) Pullman, a fifth-grade boy who suffers from Treacher-Collins syndrome, a rare facial deformity; as well as Megan Pascal, Joseph Dowd, Elisa Weiss and Robert Cohen, a Plainview resident and executive producer of the Patio Players.

Councilwoman Alesia and her mother, Toby Hess, sat in the front row.  At one point during the audience-interactive performance, Alesia got out of her seat and walked on stage to embrace O’Neal as Pullman, who sat with his back facing the audience until the finale.

“I thought the play was wonderful,” Hess said.  “It was very meaningful.”

The cast members were not new to the subject matter, as Weiss is a teacher assistant for SLCD (School for Language and Communication Development) and Pascal is a behavioral specialist for the Maryhaven Center of Hope, which assists children, adults and senior citizens with disabilities.

Dowd’s closing speech asked the audience: “Who will come up and touch him?” daring the audience to break down the barrier between individuals such as August Pullman and those who do not have his disability.  A group of young students walked up on stage, and gathered around the cast to celebrate unity.