Location: Charlotte, NC
Josh Broughton’s first role on stage, and one that launched a lifelong love of theatre, was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his middle school’s production of Annie. Fast forward ten years and many roles later, and Josh was able to reprise his role as FDR In the Charlotte Jewish Community Center (JCC)’s recent production of Annie. “It was so good to play him again after ten years,” Josh says.
Unlike FDR, who is confined to a wheelchair for the duration of the show, Josh is able to walk with crutches. In fact, he does not even use his crutches when he at home, only when he is out in public. Josh was born with cerebral palsey and has been using crutches since he was five years old. “Mine is very minor,” Josh says. He knows that most people with cerebral palsey must use wheelchairs because their complications from the movement disorder are much more severe than those Josh has experienced. “I consider myself very lucky.”
That perspective stems from a philosophy he has about life, and not just his thoughts on his cerebral palsey. “I don’t think you should ignore the negatives,” Josh says, “but if you focus on them you will be miserable. I choose to focus on the positives.”
At the top of the list of Josh’s positives is the family who loves and supports him. He lives with his parents and his two younger siblings (when they are home from college) and three cats. He graduated from Central Piedmont Community College last May with an Associate Arts degree and has spent the last three years doing editing and data entry for a sports magazine. He has also done some freelance work in audio engineering, and that is something he hopes to do more of moving forward.
Another huge positive in Josh’s life is theatre. Following his first role on stage as FDR, he has performed every year with one exception. In his senior year of high school, he was not cast in the school musical. “It was Hairspray which is a heavy dancing show,” Josh says. “But it still stung.” Other than that, he has not felt that his cerebral palsey and the limitations stemming from it hold him back at all. “I try my best to be just like everybody else,” he says.
He is unable to drive and putting on shoes is challenging, but other than that Josh does not feel like his cerebral palsey has interfered with his life. He has had seven surgeries starting with one at five years old to correct a bone in his leg and several on his back. “So don’t ask me to go out for a run,” Josh says, “but other than that everything is good.”
Josh discovered the JCC theatre program in 2013 when he was just out of high school. On the heels of not getting cast in Hairspray, the JCC’s inclusivity and family atmosphere was just what he needed. He has been acting there ever since. For Josh, the thrill of being on stage is only part of the appeal. “I love performing,” he says, “but what I love even more is the community I have found there. I can’t wait to see my friends every year.”
Josh embodies the lesson I have tried to impart to my kids and one I try to live by myself. There are real hardships in this world, and some cannot be sugarcoated or ignored. But a good attitude and an appreciation for what is right rather than dwelling on what is wrong can play a huge role in one’s day to day happiness. Here’s to many more theatre roles in your future, Josh!