NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – One actress continues breaking barriers on Broadway.
Her name is Ali Stroker, and she’s taking the stage again in a new production of the beloved musical “Oklahoma!”
Her passion is paving the way for others.
She brought down the house in the revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” The words “can’t” and “no” are prominent in her big number, and don’t apply to her red hot career, propelling her to Broadway for a second time.
“I’m so excited, I can’t believe I’m back on Broadway,” Stroker told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
Before “Oklahoma!” she was in a revival of “Spring Awakening.” Now it’s a bigger role as Ado Annie, a character in a show from 1943 that’s usually played just for laughs.
“This show is about to stir things up,” Stroker said.
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This show is a modern, darker take on the classic musical, and Stroker plays her part with grit.
“I think she is really smart. I think she knows what she wants,” Stroker said.
That also describes 31-year-old Stroker, a Ridgewood, New Jersey native who has been a fighter all her life, CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported.
“I was injured when I was two years old in a car accident and got a spinal injury and am paralyzed from the chest down and used a wheelchair since,” Stroker explained.
“The drive you have: Where do you suppose that comes from?” Carlin asked.
“I wasn’t going to be playing soccer. I wasn’t going to be doing gymnastics. But I could sing and I could do theater, so my parents urged me to put all my attention on the thing that I could do, my strengths,” she said.
Carlin spoke with Daniel Fish, the director of “Oklahoma!”, about what Stroker brings to the role of Ado Annie.
“I think there is a ferocity to the performance, a power to the performance. This idea that she’s choosing to do everything she does,” Fish said.
“Living with a disability, you can feel limited at times, but when I sing I can fly, I am free,” Stroker said.
She’s passionate that more differently-abled actors get hired and be allowed to shine in unexpected roles.
“My disability is going to come into every single room that I’m in, but I want to be case because I was the best actor, not because I’m in a wheelchair,” Stroker said.
She says she loves being an actor, advocate and role model.
“Coming out of the stage door and seeing all the young people there, I am so thrilled that I get to connect with young people,” she said. “They are powerful, and the can have anything that they can decide to work hard for.”
Stroker is an unflappable, unstoppable performer who’s living proof of that.