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Victoria musician with autism writes songs for unique 'superhero' musical

Victoria, B.C. -

As Sherri Upton looks back fondly on pictures from her son’s past, she remembers how Nick would play with his toys differently.

“He would turn trucks over and spin all the wheels,” Sherri says. “Rather than roll them around on the floor.”

Although it was cute, Sherri says it was also one of countless quirks that caused her to be concerned, and Nick to eventually be diagnosed with autism.

“I was afraid of him [not] being able to have a normal life,” Sherri admits. “And [not] being able to form friendships.”

Afraid that her little boy, who was also debilitatingly shy, would never be able to create a fulfilling life for himself.

But then, a few years later, when Nick was taking a cooking class for people with special needs, he noticed a guitar had been left there.

“I picked it up and started doodling around,” Nick says.

The moment made Nick feel compelled to teach himself how to play.

“I couldn’t help the enthusiasm,” he remembers.

After learning to play other people’s songs, Nick started writing his own.

“I felt like [the guitar] was made for me to be creative,” Nick says.

“We saw that there was talent there,” Sherri smiles. “And that actually gave me hope.”

Nick wrote more than an album’s worth of original material, started regularly performing at public open mic nights, and is now the musical leader for The DeviAnts.

The group of creative adults with disabilities is supported by Lifetime Networks and professional writer and performer Wes Borg.

“It’s like Homer Simpson said of [his daughter] Lisa, ‘You’re my greatest accomplishment and you did it all yourself!” Wes jokes, humbly. “Not only am I proud of you, I didn’t have to do anything!”

Wes says he’s also proud of the group’s new musical, ‘Victoria’s Secret Society of Deviant Superheroes,’ because it satirizes the comic book movie genre by being free of fisticuffs.

“Maybe we could help people without beating people up,” Wes says of the premise.

It’s a comedy that looks at comic book heroes differently, featuring original songs by the boy who used to play with trucks differently, inspiring a formerly fearful mom to feel differently.

“Now I see [Nick] coming into his own, and he’s formed really meaningful friendships with the other kids in the theatre troupe,” Sherri beams. “He just makes me incredibly proud to be his mom!”

The DeviANTS will be performing ‘Victoria’s Secret Society of Deviant Superheroes’ June 2-4 at Langham Court Theatre. Top Stories

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