Joe Bennett (33) from Harrogate who has lived with Asperger syndrome all his life. He has been picked to play the leading character of Danny Zuko in Kirkby Overblow Dramatic Society’s (KODS) musical performance of GREASE which is being staged at All Saints Church in the North Yorkshire village later this week.
Having impressed the Directors of the stage production with his singing skills and pure positivity it left them in no doubt that he was the one that they wanted to play the starring role. The cool and confident Danny Zuko character was originally interpreted on screen by John Travolta in the 1970’s.
Joe who works in the café at Sainsbury’s Superstore on Wetherby Road in Harrogate admits that this is one of the best things that has happened for him.
I have never let my condition get in the way of striving on in my life. I have always been upbeat and this opportunity gives me the confidence to perhaps take my acting and singing talents a little more seriously.
Operations Manager at Sainsbury’s Chris Palmer is delighted for him:
Joe is one of our most popular employees, despite his behavioural condition he pushes the boundaries. He engages with everyone no matter who they are and we wish him the very best of luck.
Linda Warren is a general teaching assistant (SEN) at Springfield School in Harrogate who caters for students with autistic spectrum conditions. She applauds Joe for taking on such a complex challenge and credits KODS for giving him a chance to shine.
Linda Warren said:
Asperger’s syndrome is a high-functioning development disorder that is part of the autism spectrum. Symptoms such as difficulty with social interaction, repetitive behaviours and having trouble making eye contact vary widely among individuals. But Asperger’s often bestows unique gifts too. Some of the most inspiring and influential people we know have Asperger’s.
Mary Kelly, the Director of the KODS musical performance of GREASE told us:
Our production ethos has embraced inclusivity, diversity and most importantly, a sense of fun. It has also demonstrated to me that there is nothing you can’t achieve through hard work, determination and a healthy sprinkling of star talent.
Joe will be taking to the stage alongside a 17-strong team of dedicated amateur performers from 4-7th December.