Kerri Quinn, Belfast Actor and Coronation Street star is to become the Patron of Skyzdalimit Theatre group for people with a learning disability, based in Omagh.
Kerri, who plays Vicky Jefferies in Coronation Street, went to see the Skyzdalimit show ‘The Prince of Africa’ in June at the Strule Arts Centre, Omagh and was so ‘blown away’ by the performance that she wanted to become involved with the group and their next show in 2020.
Kerri said, “I was just blown away. The production, the powerful musical score, the original humorous script, fabulous costumes, beautiful backdrops, lighting, exciting and exhilarating dancing, skilful acting – was incredible. The cast were so professional in their approach that you forgot they had a learning disability and just revelled in their performance. I really enjoyed watching everyone perform and I think what’s different about Skyzdalimit, is that along with the professionalism of the production, you also get to experience the sheer joy and happiness emanating from within each and every cast member. It’s electrifying and very infectious! These guys are inspirational and as their patron I want to ensure that they get the recognition they deserve and can perform to a wider audience.”
Kerri’s sister in law’s brother is a member of Skyzdalimit and his performance along with the rest of the cast impressed Kerri so much she instantly wanted to get involved, Kerri continued: “I was looking forward to attending the show and I understood that the performers all had a learning disability, however, the show surpassed any expectations I may have had. I was not expecting to witness such a powerful demonstration of performance, emotion and skill. I would love to raise the profile of Skyzdalimit and would encourage all to go and see these shows, they are so empowering and therapeutic, I left after the show feeling so uplifted and happy. This group is ground-breaking and will be an example to other groups and inspire them to do the same. I am very proud to be part of the movement that finally smashes the “learning disability” theatre performance barrier and public perception.”
Skyzdalimit are a cross community theatre group for adults with a learning disability and autism, they aim to empower people with disabilities through theatre and music. Skyzdalimit theatre group are a part of the Mencap network of local community groups.
Sheena McCooey, Skyzdalimit Chairperson said: “It’s a dream come true for us. For years, ten to be exact, we have been trying to promote our shows, highlighting the skills and enthusiasm of our members to attempt to persuade “mainstream audiences” to come to see our shows but we had limited success. The “learning disability” label meant it was usually a show supported by family, friends and carers of our members. To have Kerri support us and promote us will allow a wider audience to recognise the quality of our performances. Kerri being our patron will assist us in changing people’s perceptions and give validation to our members, focusing on their commitment and professionalism as performers. Kerri is the perfect match for us – she is a professional actor, she understands the theatre and performance, she has a natural affinity with our cast and volunteers. Kerri made the effort during her time off from Coronation Street to see our show. She is lovely, gracious, caring, and it helps that she is very well known. We are all very excited about Kerri being our patron”
Kerri will be formally inducted as Skyzdalimit Patron at the group’s Film Premiere Grand Gala Ball at the Mellon Country Inn, Omagh on 14 September 2019.
Skyzdalimit director/producer, Pearse McCloskey said: “Kerri will be amazing as our patron and starring as Lady Gaga in a cameo appearance in our upcoming production ‘The Greatest Showman’ and with the invaluable support of Mencap, we plan to take the show, first to Belfast in 2020 followed by a tour of the island of Ireland and the UK. It’s a watershed moment for musical theatre when people will get a chance to experience the power and magic of a Skyzdalimit production.”