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Performances at Northampton High School a benefit for children-centered nonprofits

NORTHAMPTON — A therapy session with Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie will be part of a night of entertainment Friday at Northampton High School where the school’s two improv troupes will join forces with Best Buddies and Whole Children of Hadley in support of a good cause.

The event, slated for 7 p.m. in the high school cafeteria, will feature improvisational theater games involving audience interaction by the high school’s comedy troupes Funktionlust and The Unusuals, as well as performances by Best Buddies and Whole Children.

Based in Hadley, Whole Children offers programs and classes for children from toddler through teens with a range of abilities, including children with special needs.

Best Buddies is an international nonprofit organization that creates one-on-one friendships for people with intellectual and development disabilities. Students from the club at the high school will perform various pieces with their buddies.

“I think that today people just need to laugh, there is often so much bad news,” said Heidi Haas, the organizer and coach of the improv troupes, in a telephone interview.

It is the second time for the collaborative performance that drew a diverse crowd of 200 last year, the first time the show was held. All of the proceeds benefit Whole Children and Best Buddies. Last year, $500 was raised for each group. Haas said that her goal for this year was simply to raise more.

Performers from Whole Children’s theater program will preview two songs from their upcoming show “Charlie Brown and Pals” in March.

“It will open your heart, it is amazing to see what the kids can do, it is so fun,” said Kim Holden, program director at Whole Children, which offers an enrichment program for people of all ages and special needs.

The show will be March 22 and 23 at Hallie Flanagan Theater at Smith College and will feature songs and sketches from various “Charlie Brown” shows. In addition, Friday’s show will include performances from Whole Children’s Joyful Chorus and their Hip Hop class.

Holden said she is grateful for the performance opportunity that the show gives. Holden’s son, Cade, 16, will be one of the performers Friday, when he will be playing Snoopy.

“I haven’t seen him that happy seen he was little. It’s the best,” Holden said of her son performing last year.

Friday’s show starts at 7 p.m.; tickets are available at the door for $5.

Haas said the improv troupes will call on the audience to provide “fun ideas” to prompt their pieces.

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