Northampton academy's version of the Greatest Showman 'missed opportunity' to include disabled performers, parents say

Parents of a Northampton trampolining club have spoken at their disappointment knowing a production of the Greatest Showman this weekend will only feature one performer with a disability.

Friday, 30th November 2018, 3:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 8:20 am
Northamptonshire Trampoline Gymnastics Academy is set to host its version of The Greatest Showman on Sunday.
Northamptonshire Trampoline Gymnastics Academy is set to host its version of The Greatest Showman on Sunday.

The Northamptonshire Trampoline Gymnastics Academy, which meets at the Benham Sports Arena in Moulton Park, is set to stage its interpretation of the hit musical on Sunday.

But it will only feature one performer from the academy's Ability Zone for children and young people with special needs, learning difficulties and disabilities.

The trampolining academy says the cast of the show was gathered through an open audition in June.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But a group of parents whose children attend Ability Zone classes say an opportunity has been missed.

"The Greatest Showman is a film all about recognising people's differences and accepting them," said one parent, who did not wish to be named.

"It could have been just like the movie, this just blows my mind."

The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman, celebrates the life of PT Barnum and the creation of the famous Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Performance director at the trampolining academy, Harvey Smith, said the audition for the show was advertised on posters around the Benham Sports Arena.

All proceeds from the tickets sales will be donated to the Northampton Trustee Fund, to help support the building of an assembly area in Penyem Village, The Gambia.

"It was an open audition, so the gymnasts that turned up to the audition are the ones that we used in the show," Mr Smith said.

"We had to work with who turned up on the day.

"Unfortunately no one from the Ability Zone came. We do have a spread of abilities across the shows and we can only work with who comes to the audition.

"We can't go out, at the end of the day, and force people to take part in the shows."

NTGA is one of the largest providers of disabled sport in the county, offering 23 hours of dedicated disability classes every week, with many other members with additional needs integrated in other sessions.

The club also says it has 90 members with wide-ranging disabilities attending weekly.

The Academy employs two Ability Zone coaches who work with organisations such as the National Autistic Society, Richardson Partnership for Care and Sense.

However, some parents believe the academy missed an opportunity to actively involve youngsters with disabilities or learning difficulties - to coincide with the message of inclusivity promoted by the film.

"I think they definitely could have been more proactive," said a parent of one of the children attending the Ability Zone.

"I thought they would have noticed that no one from the Ability Zone had auditioned, that's my question.

"There are people with certain conditions that might have needed the posters explaining as well."

The show is set to take place at the Benham Sports Arena at noon on Sunday, December 2.