By: Dale King Contributing Writer
The theatrical community in South Florida has turned out in force to aid and support one of its own who continues to undergo treatments for a rare form of cancer.
Ben Solmor, owner, co-founder and resident choreographer and costumer at Competition Level Dance Company and Next Level Performing Arts in Parkland and the Marquee Theater Company, which performs at West Boca High School, “was born with a very rare bone disease known as multiple enchondromatosis,” he said. “I’ve had dozens of surgeries throughout my life in order to keep my disease in check.”
Andrew Shultz, his business partner at Next Level Performing Arts, a children’s theater, said Ben was admitted to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Jan. 19 for what he expected to be a lengthy treatment and recovery process. The surgery was delayed from Jan. 3 because Ben does not have medical insurance.
During his past 10 years in theater, dance and education, “when I had good health, my accomplishments were remarkable.” He wrote online: “I gained a passion for expressing myself through the movement of my body, something the doctors told me would never happen.”
Ben’s disease was in remission for a decade, but “sadly, on Oct. 25 , I had a biopsy that revealed both grade 2 and 3 malignant cells within the same tumor. I was diagnosed with stage 2 bone cancer and am already in recovery from my first of many possible surgeries.”
Singers, actors and dancers from Broward and Palm Beach Counties have been raising money for their ailing pal. They opened an online GoFundMe campaign (https://www.gofundme.com/bensmedicalfunds) and held a “BENefit” performance at West Boca High on Dec. 17, which drew a large audience, and many performers Ben has worked with and taught through the years took to the stage.
Because of Ben’s illness, said Shultz, the Marquee Theater’s season has been suspended. The pair founded the acting company in 2012 after Slow Burn Theatre moved to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. They have been producing musicals there since 2014.
On Facebook, Ben has asked his friends and supporters: “Help me to keep dancing, to keep teaching your children, to keep the arts alive in our world.”