Armonk, New York — Bonnie Gleicher, a distinguished 2006 graduate of Byram Hills High School who starred in school musicals as a young student, returned to Wampus Elementary School on Friday with her off-Broadway production “Addy & Uno.”
Ms. Gleicher is the composer and lyricist of the show, which bills itself as the first family musical about disability. Friendship and kindness also play starring roles.
The musical tells the story of Uno, a boy who has autism and loves math, and his four friends, who each have a different disability. Together, they support Uno all the way to the math competition, facing bullies who call them losers along the way.
Ms. Gleicher, a 29-year-old singer-songwriter who has appeared on Broadway, said she instantly fell in love with the story and the characters in “Addy & Uno” after being recommended for the project.
“These are characters that face so many obstacles every day, and yet they face them with so much humor and fun and true friendship,” she said in an interview. “I was so inspired by them, so much that I wrote the first song the next day.”
She was thrilled to have the show on stage at Wampus, where it was enjoyed by the third and fourth graders.
“So much of my love for theater and performing began at Wampus when I was a kid,” Ms. Gleicher said. “I’m so excited to share this story that is so feel-good with these kids. They’ll learn about being kind to people and not bullying people and understanding what people are going through without even realizing it. I’m so excited to help that next generation to get there.”
The show is a chance for young children to learn “the value of being different and of being kind,” Ms. Gleicher said. She hopes it will inspire Wampus students.
“I hope they feel like when they see someone, that they’re more understanding of what they’re going through when someone is different from them, that they feel empowered to be friends with them, instead of fearful of them,” she said.
Standing before her Wampus audience, she recalled her elementary school days.
"So many of my memories here were about friendship, Ms. Gleicher said. “This show is about best friends, it's about kindness, it's about strength and courage. You're going to see a lot of people who are super brave, and they're just like you."
Ms. Gleicher has always loved theater. In fact, she sang before she spoke. At 10, she was in the national Broadway tour of “Annie,” and her Broadway debut came at age 12 in “Jane Eyre.” In high school, she began writing music and performing her original songs in New York City.
She majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has written the music and lyrics for five musicals.
Wampus Assistant Principal Judy Brewster, who directed Ms. Gleicher in school musicals, remembers her as a talented performer. Ms. Gleicher was Peter in “Peter Pan” in third grade; she played Dorothy in her fourth-grade production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
“As a third grader, she was amazing,” Ms. Brewster said. “She had this huge voice. When she auditioned, the whole room became silent because her voice was a Broadway voice. I knew as soon as she opened her mouth in third grade that she’d be famous someday. That’s how talented she was, and still is.”
After Friday’s performance, Evan Latainer, the director of Westchester County’s Office for People with Disabilities, and Anna Masupost, CEO of the agency, presented Ms. Gleicher with a proclamation from County Executive George Latimer that recognized her commitment to musical theater and honored her as an outstanding citizen.
With thanks to the Byram Hills Parent Teacher Student Association, which funded this production.