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Ecuadoreans with disabilities take the stage

Dolores Ochoa / AP

Actresses wait for their turn to walk on stage during a performance of "Suenos," or "Dreams," at the Casa de la Cultura theater in Quito, Ecuador, Sept. 21, 2012.

Dolores Ochoa / AP

Actress Marisol Nunez, left, who is blind, is led to stage ahead of her performance.

Associated Press reports — Not long ago, most of the 80 young cast members of one of Ecuador's most successful musicals were barely seen or heard.

They are blind, autistic, have Down syndrome or other disabilities. But on stage, the actors, singers and dancers of "Suenos," or "Dreams," easily transcend their limitations.

"What I like about this project is that it dignifies the disabled. Above all, the intellectually challenged, who have faced a lot of prejudice," said Marisol Nunez, a young blind woman whose acting and singing has captivated crowds.

Nunez lost her eyesight as a child to a congenital disease and is among the most experienced actors and singers in the cast.

The musical, which premiered three years ago, is based in part on the dreams of young people with disabilities and is presented by the nonprofit foundation El Triangulo.

Those dreams have now been shared with thousands, and not just in Ecuador. Scenes from the musical have also been performed by cast members in the United States and Europe.

EDITOR’S NOTE: These images were made available to NBC News on Oct. 3, 2012.

 

Dolores Ochoa / AP

Cast members mingle backstage at the Casa de la Cultura theater in Quito, Ecuador, Sept. 21.

Dolores Ochoa / AP

Singer Jennyfer Avila, experiencing a bout of stage fright, is comforted by her father prior to her performance in "Suenos," or "Dreams," at the Casa de la Cultura theater in Quito, Ecuador, Sept. 21.

Dolores Ochoa / AP

A cast member holds still as her make-up is applied and hair is brushed in preparation for her performance in "Suenos," or "Dreams," at the Casa de la Cultura theater in Quito, Ecuador, Sept. 21.

Dolores Ochoa / AP

Cast members wave goodbye to the audience as the curtain closes at the end of their performance of "Suenos," or "Dreams," one of Ecuador's most successful musicals, at the Casa de la Cultura Theater in Quito, Ecuador, Sept. 21.

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