By Bonnie Goldberg

A parent can do nothing better for children than to give them roots and wings, roots to ground and stabilize them, wings so they can fly. Emily Stillson was gifted with such parents, ones who gave her confidence and strength and also allowed her to literally and figuratively soar, as a walker on the wings of airplanes.


To meet Emily and become intimately acquainted with her personal story of courage and daring, attend the fine production of "Wings," by Arthur Perlman for book and lyrics and Jeffrey Lunden for music at Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich until Sunday, November 25.


According to director Brett A. Bernardini, who takes great artistic risks in his creative musical productions, the message of "Wings" is to live in the moment and live well. This unique piece of theater forces the audience to stand on the edge of an abyss and discover those elements of our lives today that we can make memorable. The play reminds us how powerful our lives are every second.


For Emily, played with remarkable skill and sensitivity by Lauren Adams, her growing up years were spent in the heavens, on the fragile wings of airplanes, defying gravity in air shows with her family. Her courage and fearlessness were legendary. The young Emily is portrayed by a vibrant Aysia Reed.


Now later in life Emily lives in her memories from her youth, until, that is, she suffers a stroke and all her glory days are completely erased. "Wings" follows her struggle and progress back from a land of confusion and darkness.


The director uses swatches of lighting, designed by Ann Sitzman, and echoes of sound, designed by Steven Hinchley, to underscore Emily's journey back to herself. Along the way, her doctor (Derek Corriveau), her nurse (Jacqueline Yeung) and especially her aide, Amy, portrayed by a strong and supportive Aline O'Connor, help her find her way, in bits and pieces, small steps to capture lost language skills. Her support group includes Mr. Brambilla (Dan Adams) and Derek Corriveau as Billy who sings a wonderful song about his recipe for cheesecake. One of Emily's most poignant moments is her song "I Remember Snow" as her aide Amy guides her recollection.


For tickets ($30, students $25, children $20), call Spirit of Broadway Theater, 24 Chestnut Street, Norwich at 860-886-2378 or online at www.spiritofbroadway.org. ; Performances are Wednesday to Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.


Now is the time to make your reservations for the 12th Annual Spirit Awards on Saturday, December 1 at The Norwich Inn and Spa, route 32, Norwich, with cocktails and hors d'ourves at 6 p.m., a four course gourmet dinner at 7 p.m. and entertainment and awards at 8 p.m. This black tie event is $99 per person. Call 860-886-2378 for complete details.


Watch Emily take cautious and slow steps to encourage the light to return and her spirit to soar free.


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