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Local actress returns to the stage despite challenges

Loralee Myers plays the role of Ursula in the Canton Players Guild's production of "The Little Mermaid."

Submitted

"Some people don't care if I'm sitting or standing. I'm still the same," Loralee Myers said.
Myers, who has numerous chronic illnesses including severe rheumatoid arthritis and a genetic bone disease, plays the role of Ursula in the Canton Players Guild's currently running production of "The Little Mermaid."
A multitalented artist, Myers does not like the word "disabled." "DIS is nothing but negative, like saying dislike, discourage, disown or disable. So instead of disabled, I use differently abled," Myers said.
It's all about perspective, she explained. "I had no choice in becoming disabled, but how I live with it is my choice."
That choice is how she landed a plum role in the Player's Guild production. Myers' son first suggested she audition. A trained dancer and musical theater performer, Myers appeared in numerous productions prior to the change in her health. Since her diagnoses, however, she had decided her performance days were long gone.
The ironic situation Myers found herself in happened because she had recently encouraged her son to try moving out from backstage work to showcase his talent by stepping into the spotlight.
"If you have been blessed with a gift and if you have the ability to share that gift," Myers said, "it's your responsibility to share it. That is what I have always tried to teach my kids."
As so often happens, Myers ended up learning from her son the lesson she had worked so hard to pass along to him.
"He called me on it," she said. "He told me, 'You know [the Players Guild] is doing 'The Little Mermaid,' and you should audition.' My immediate response was 'don't be ridiculous.'"
Although Myers thought about how fun it would be to perform again, she kept hearing the internal message that it just wasn't something she could do anymore. "The reality slaps you in the face and says that you can't because that's what society tells you."
Prior to becoming differently abled, the theater had always been a place of belonging for Myers. "I would have to say that it is a source of healing that I have always turned to. Whatever situation I found myself in, I would go to the theater and would feel better."
Myers also had tried other creative outlets over the years and found that her talents went way beyond stage performance. "I picked up a paint brush and started painting."
Painting led her to pottery, which led to crochet, which led to a myriad of other artistic endeavors. "There are just so many things to do," Myers said. "It could be meeting someone at the open-air market downtown and learning how they grow their flowers."
Ultimately she decided that after accepting being differently abled, it was time to find a way to do the things she loves. The entertainer went to the audition for "The Little Mermaid" and was cast in the prominent role of Ursula.
Myers decided to share her story in the hopes of connecting with others in a similar situation. "I'm doing this because I want somebody who still has so much to give see that it's possible. I still have a voice left to speak out and say, 'Look at all the things you can still do, only in a different way.'"
The Players Guild Theatre, 1001 Market Ave. N., Canton, supports nontraditional casting. "The Little Mermaid" runs weekends through May 28 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.playersguildtheatre.com/the-little-mermaid. Tickets are $27, Seniors are $24, and 17 and younger are $19.
"My spirit isn't disabled," Myers said. "I am no different than anyone else. Everyone has challenges. They come in all shapes and sizes. I don't know how much time I have. None of us do. It's like a shooting star. I know it's going to be fast, but I might as well live brilliantly."

Published: May 16, 2017
New Article ID: 2017170519985