CATA gala showcases — and celebrates — performers talents

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LENOX — Community Access to the Arts has a two-pronged mission, according to executive director Margaret Keller: The initial goal is to teach and nurture artistic ability to their disabled clients.

The other is to celebrate those abilities, which was the focus of Sunday's performance at Shakespeare and Company.

"It's our duty to make people with disabilities more visible in the community," she said.

The weekend really isn't a fundraiser as much as it's a showcase, said Keller, of the talented individuals who are in the program.

CATA annually hosts more than 1,000 workshops for about 600 clients, said Keller.

Sunday's show attracted about 325, according to Liana Toscanini, marketing director at CATA. The gala on Saturday night pulled in a packed house of 370, she said.

"We could not have gotten anyone else in here with a shoehorn," she said. "We are so grateful for their support."

Sunday's performance theme was "Ready, Willing and Able." Each of the performances had that as a part of it's theme, said Toscanini.

There were comedy skits, songs, dancing and a stand-up comedy act by Scott Thomas of Great Barrington.

Thomas did about six minutes of stand up.

"It takes a while to develop [a routine]," he said. It was, said Thomas, only the second time he's performed in front of people.

"I enjoyed it," he said.

There was also a juggling act. David Zahorian, of Great Barrington, was one of the jugglers.

"I've been juggling for a while," he said. "It's one of my favorite things to do."

Zahorian's juggling teacher is Roger Reed, known popularly as Roger the Jester. He's been teaching juggling at CATA for about 14 years.

"They learn things from me, I learn things from them," he aid. "It's been a rewarding experience."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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