Arms Wide Open cast members extend their reach to the Lyceum Theatre

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Arms Wide Open is a non-profit organization and a labor of love conceived by Yvonne Rubio, owner of Rubio’s Performing Arts in El Cajon. Arms Wide Open is premiering what co-founder, play director, Chris Rubio, described as a “technically advanced” production of “Aladdin” at San Diego’s Lyceum Theatre, May 15-19.
Chris Rubio saidthe cast, consists of children and adults with special needs. They worked eight months on the production .

Arms Wide Open is a non-profit organization and a labor of love conceived by Yvonne Rubio, owner of Rubio’s Performing Arts in El Cajon. Arms Wide Open is premiering what co-founder, play director, Chris Rubio, described as a “technically advanced” production of “Aladdin” at San Diego’s Lyceum Theatre, May 15-19.
Chris Rubio saidthe cast, consists of children and adults with special needs. They worked eight months on the production .

The performance includes green-screen special effects, a live camel, two lambs, a goat and a live band.
“We’ve got kids involved from different parts of the county, including Escondido and La Jolla,” Chris Rubio said.
Cali Williams landed the female lead of Princess Jasmine.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Williams. “I auditioned and before I knew it, I got the callback. I was so excited.”

Her mother, Becky Williams, said the influence in participating in Arms Wide Open had a profound effect in her daughter’s life.

“Cali used to go to school dances and used to sit alone at the table,” she said. “She was too shy to participate. Now she has blossomed. If it weren’t for Chris Rubio, she would still be in her shell.”
Myra Johnson expressed her gratitude for the organization for its wide reaching, transformational impact.
“The coolest part is to see how everyone involved loves it,” said Johnson. “This place gives these individuals a chance to shine and celebrate their special talents. The self-esteem that they experience is huge and it transforms their lives.”

Yvonne Rubio said her other son is the seed from which the concept stemmed.
“Joshua is severely autistic,” she said. “Although he can’t participate, this program is a result of having him in my life.”

Her program, she said, helps to connect these kids and adults with one another, lifting them from isolation and fostering a sense of belonging through the transcendent power and joy of the performing arts.
Excitement of being involved in such a lavish production extends beyond being center stage for the highly enthused cast of 63.

“Arms Wide Open provides the opportunity for these individuals to not only be in the limelight, but it gives them a sense of being connected,” said Chris Rubio. “Here, they express themselves as a family. The program has fostered confidence, acceptance and it provides a much-needed social outlet for them. Often times, they’ve experienced seclusion and a sense of being separate from social activities. Here they interact, forming friendships and special bonds. I forget that they’re special needs. They’re just like everybody else.”

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