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    Posted August 20, 2008

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SF/Bay Area Equity Members Make A Dream Come True

By Stephen Pawley

With the special permission of AEA, several San Francisco Bay Area members were able to join with "El Gato Family Theatre" and the "Make A Wish Foundation" to bring a most remarkable dream of seven year old Rio Popper to life. Rio was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, eye cancer of the retina, when she was 6 months old. Two years of chemotherapy stopped the tumors growing, but finally surgery was required to remove them which also resulted in blindness. When the Make A Wish Foundation met with her, she surprised everyone with her wish to play Ginny Weasley in a play based on a specific scene from the final book in the Harry Potter series. After gaining approval from JK Rowling and Warner Brothers, the project took shape. Harry Potter and the Sword of Gryffindor, adapted for stage by El Gato Artistic Director Shawn Ferreyra, took place for one performance only in Redwood City on August 16, 2008.

Director Rebecca Longworth tailored rehearsals to assure that Rio felt comfortable onstage and was well supported by the experienced cast of actors and professional crew. The opportunity to fulfill Rio's vision was truly a gift to all who participated.

Back Row left to right: AEA Members Stephen Pawley, Molly Coogan, Paige Perez, Amy Cole (producer) and Bill Farhner. In front, Rio Popper.

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