Penguin Project

The Penguin Project at Old Town Playhouse will be performing Annie Jr this June at Milliken Auditorium!

With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone's hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. Annie is determined to find the parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of an orphanage run by the cruel Miss Hannigan. Annie eventually foils Miss Hannigan's evil machinations, finding a new home and family in billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary, Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy.




The Penguin Project was conceived in 2004 by Dr. Andrew Morgan to give children with special needs an opportunity to participate in the performing arts. "Dr. Andy" is a developmental pediatrician and the former Head of the Division of Child Development at the University of Illinois in Peoria. He created The Penguin Project recognizing that theatre not only provides children with a valuable recreational experience and an opportunity to display their creative talents, but also enhances social interaction, communication skills, assertiveness, and self-esteem.

The Artists, who are children and young adults with special needs, take th stage to perform a Broadway Junior production.

The Penguin Project strives to demonstrate that individuals with special needs are fully capable of participating in community activities with the same dedication and enthusiasm as others, if given opportunity and support. The origin of the name "Penguin Project" comes from the unique characteristics of penguins. They are extremely playful and curious, and work well together. More importantly, they have a disability that distinguishes them from other birds - they can't fly! Instead, penguins waddle and toboggan on their bellies of the snow, and are excellent swimmers in the water. So like our young artists, they have adapted to the challenges of their environment, and have not allowed their unique difference to interfere with their lives. Our Penguins SOAR!



The Penguin Project is open to any individual age 8 - 20 with special needs. This includes those with cognitive, learning, motor, hearing and visual impairments as well as genetic and neurological disorders.


The Penguin Project utilizes a peer mentor system, linking each young artist with an age level peer (8-20) and interest, who does not have special needs. 

Peer Mentors work side-by-side with their partners, assisting them throughout the entire rehearsal and performance process. Mentors are responsible for knowing all lines, songs, and blocking of their Artist partners. Mentors are onstage during the production, costumed to match or complement their partners.


This program is made possible through the support of The Worthington Family Foundation and is FREE for all participants.

How do i join otp's pENguin project

Artist and Mentor applications will be available for online registration and in a downloadable pdf format soon.


Old Town Playhouse

Main Stage Theatre
148 E. Eighth Street
at the corner of
Cass & East 8th St.