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Ridgewood Woman Makes History On Broadway

Ali Stroker, center, formerly of Ridgewood, with Deaf West's "Spring Awakening" choreographer Spencer Liff, left, and Stroker's friend and cast-mate, Krysta Rodriguez. Photo Credit: Ali Stroker
Ali Stroker Photo Credit: Ali Stroker
Stroker and actors of Deaf West's company sing and sign along. Photo Credit: Ali Stroker

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — Former village resident Ali Stroker says her wheelchair has never set limitations on her career as a professional New York City actress -- it propels her.

And this time, she's headed toward Broadway.

As the first person in a wheelchair to take a Broadway stage, Stroker is uniting with other disabled performers for Deaf West’s production of “Spring Awakening” at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

Stroker, 28, recently completed a two-month run as Anna in the Tony Award-winning rock musical at a small Los Angeles theater. She and the company — which includes several deaf actors — are singing and signing their rendition of the play at the Brooks through early January 2016.

“Without my disability I wouldn’t understand this production in the same way,” said Stroker, who was paralyzed in a car accident when she was 2.

A graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, she guest-starred as Betty on the Fox TV show “Glee.”

Being "differently-abled" has only motivated the village-born and -bred actress to grow as a performer.

“My disability has opened my perspective to what’s possible,” said the New York City transplant, who is also a member of a wheelchair dance team.

“It’s been a really neat opportunity to perform others with disabilities," she said. "We don’t let [disabilities] define us but they’ve challenged us and pushed us to create really amazing art and theater.”

Like any Broadway-bound performer, Stroker has faced obstacles but is confident she's headed in the right direction.

"I've always had this dream of being on Broadway but I never, ever could've dreamed it would be in this way," she said. "It's so beautiful you can't even dream it."

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