Kidney patients finds help, healing in theatre

UPPER DARBY, Pa. - August 5, 2011

His name is Terrance Calvert, and like many children in foster care, he faced major difficulties.

But his life changed dramatically when he discovered the Upper Darby Summer Stage Theatre program, and that's what sustains him now as he battles kidney cancer.

21 year old Terrance Calvert loves the stage. He says it feels like family to him.

At age 3, Terrance was placed in foster care. It was six years later before he was adopted.

Adjusting to his new life wasn't easy. He had trouble dealing with his anger and emotions.

"I didn't understand them because they didn't really make sense," said Terrance. "I'd get angry, but didn't know why. There was no real reason. It was more a defense mechanism from when I was really young."

"You could always see that there was a great kid in there," said Harry Dietzler. "Sometimes, he'd be a little angry."

Harry Dietzler founded the Summer Stage program 36 years ago and introduced theatre to Terrance when he was 14.

"Theatre is one of the places you can come and just be yourself regardless of who you are. It's a judge free zone," said Terrance.

"He stepped up to no just being a performer, but also being a sharing kid, who shared his talent," Dietzler said.

Terrance joined the staff at Summer Stage, as an assistant choreographer.

In March, he was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer, and wears a back brace following surgery to correct a spinal fracture. But he didn't want it to look like a brace at Friday night's benefit.

"I decided to make it a costume," said Terrance. "I feel like it makes it much easier when I have to take it on and off."

"I think this is what keeps him going," said Dietzler. "It's what he lives for, it's fun, it's exciting, and it has to be healing."

Friday night's benefit will help Terrance and his family with medical cost, and will include a performance of Titanic. The benefit will be held at the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center.

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