In the performing arts, a triple threat is someone who excels at acting, singing and dancing. But Zachary Sutherland would qualify as a quadruple or quintuple threat—at least! Along with being an honored on-stage performer, he has expanded his knowledge to the production side of theater. And when he’s not putting his efforts into the performance arts, he’s learning new skills in sports, camping, academics and more.
A senior at Hazelwood West High School in the Hazelwood School District, Zachary has always had a passion for musicals and theater. Last year, he had the opportunity to try out for a part in the Variety production of “Little Mermaid.” After months of hard work and multiple days of performances, Zachary stated he wanted to take things to the next step and try out for a play at school as well as enroll in a theater class to help him learn more about the craft of acting. Since then, he’s ever-present at performances at both school and at Variety, and even began learning many behind-the-scenes skills, as he served as an intern to the musical director in the Variety production of “Mary Poppins.”
“If I had to describe Zachary Sutherland in one word, it would be ‘fearless,’” said his SSD teacher Denise Inman. “He is not afraid to try new things and take on challenging tasks and he’s met every challenge with a positive attitude and an enormous amount of effort.” She added that Zachary would be the first to admit that having cerebral palsy can be very frustrating for him, but he’s overcome obstacles at every step of the way—serving as an advocate for himself and others with disabilities.
When Zachary isn’t on stage, you may find him learning new skills in SSD’s Community-Based Vocational Instruction (CBVI) program, where he worked at DePaul Hospital at the information desk greeting patients and visitors. He’s also been a regular at several summer camp programs, where he’s learned archery, horseback riding, scuba diving, swimming and other team sports.
“He is a shining example of how one person can make a difference in so many peoples’ lives,” Inman said. “There is nothing that Zach will not try. He will do things that others in his situation might never attempt. In fact, he does things many able-bodied people would never dream about doing.”