Ali Stroker won this year’s Tony Award for Featured Actress in a Musical. She’s the first actress using a wheelchair to appear on a Broadway stage, and the first to win a Tony.
This history making win is more than just a first. It’s providing hope and a voice for people with this type of physical disability.
Jordan Schroeter is a local man who has spinal muscular atrophy, meaning he has to use an electric wheelchair. But that didn’t stop him from auditioning and performing on stage.
Jordan was involved with a production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” at Grafton High School, and even though he was in an electric wheelchair, and the play is set in the 1600’s, he was able to do such a convincing performance that no one though much of the anachronistic motorized wheelchair after the initial somewhat attention-grabbing entrance.
Other than the obvious logistical adjustment in the construction of the set to make sure Jordan could enter and exit easily, nothing much was done to change how the show was produced.
After a car accident at the age of two, Ali Stroker was paralyzed from the waste down. She is also in a wheelchair, (albeit, not a motorized one) and she’s taken it upon herself to be a wider voice for others with disabilities.
Schroeter says, “That is the news I’m just hoping to see. That real change in our society… it’s taking a while, but it’s not the change itself people fear, but the process. And to see it changing into this and seeing people with disabilities doing things like this really is a huge step forward.”