Oklahoma! – The Sensory-Friendly Performance | Franklin Academy

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Oklahoma! – The Sensory-Friendly Performance

Our school is enjoying a growing collaboration with Goodspeed Musicals both on and off-campus. Last year our students and faculty served as consultants to the staff of Goodspeed for their first sensory-friendly production which was a performance of Bye Bye Birdie. Goodspeed staff helped to teach drama courses to our students during December and April Intersessions as well as Summer Sojourn. This past Sunday a group of enthusiastic students and teachers worked at volunteers at the latest sensory-friendly production which was a performance of Oklahoma! In the photograph above from left to right you will see in front: Kayla Erikson (teacher), Lulu McDonald (arms outstretched), and Jill Howard (teacher); second row; Sadie Peden (teacher) and Ava Altman; third row: Erin McNulty, Jack Zuffante, Sam Mount, and Anna Hobbs; fourth row: Erica Shea, Michael Vitarelli, Mel Apple, and Mary Murphy (Director of Development).

Here is a short video slideshow of our volunteers in action.

https://vimeo.com/235427957

You might be wondering what a sensory-friendly theatrical performance is all about. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers taken directly from the Goodspeed Musicals website.

Q. What is a Sensory-Friendly performance?
A. A Sensory-Friendly Performance is a live theatre production for people with a variety of sensory input disorders. Our sensory-friendly performance will be accessible to people on the autism spectrum, who have anxiety, or other cognitive disabilities. Goodspeed staff and performers have carefully modified the performance with this audience in mind.

Q. How has the performance been modified?
A. During Sensory-Friendly Performances, audience members can freely leave their seats as needed during the performance, house lights will remain somewhat illuminated, sound levels will be lowered, the use of flashing lights will be reduced, and special educational materials will be made available to patrons prior to the performance. Goodspeed will make numerous other subtle modifications to the regular theatre experience to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible during the performance. There will be several safe spaces for audience members to leave the show and relax as needed. Additionally, trained Goodspeed staff and volunteers will be present to accommodate the needs of this specific population. There is no expectation that the audience will be quiet during the performance. It will be a completely judgment-free zone!

Q. How can I purchase tickets?
A. All tickets for this special performance are $12 each. To purchase tickets, please call Kate Micari-Miller at 860.615.0316 or email autismfriendly [at] goodspeed.org.

Q. Who should attend this performance?
A. This performance caters to people of all ages with sensory input disorders, their families, and caretakers. If it is difficult or impossible for an individual to attend live performance because of their sensory challenges, this is an excellent opportunity to experience the magic of live musical theatre in a friendly, judgment-free environment. Goodspeed strives to provide a carefree and fun experience for everyone involved. We are prepared for loud reactions to the show from this audience. We also understand that some audience members will need to leave or move around the space during the show. This is perfectly fine! All children must be accompanied by an adult while in the theatre. Again, we encourage caretakers and family members of people with special needs to attend.

Q. Can people without autism or cognitive disabilities attend this performance?
A. Tickets for this performance are not available to the general public. We encourage caretakers and family members of people with sensory input disorders to attend. The production will be changed to fit their needs and the environment will be quite different. Regular Goodspeed patrons should book into other performances so we can keep seats available for this special population and their families.

Q. What changes will you be making to the script?
A. The script will not be altered.

Q. Is there anything I can do to help someone with sensory input disorders prepare for this new experience?
A. Goodspeed offers a number of pre-show resources to help people with sensory input disorders prepare to see the show. CLICK HERE to view a “Coming to the Theatre” social story video, a plot synopsis, a downloadable written social story, and an Audience Insights Guide along with video clips from the show. Additionally, we can arrange tours of the theatre before you come to the performance. If you are interested in a tour, please contact Kate Micari-Miller at 860.615.0316. There will be a “meet your seat” experience an hour before the performance begins and attendees are welcome to come early to see their seat, view the set on stage, and meet our friendly staff and some cast members.

Q. Can someone in a wheelchair attend?
A. Yes, there is elevator access to the orchestra level. Please inform the box office of any mobility issues.

Q. Can attendees bring fidget toys, edibles, electronic devices such as headphones, or other objects to calm their nerves?
A. Yes, attendees are encouraged to bring fidget toys and edibles, but we ask that all electronic devices including phones and tablets be turned off during the performance. We will have complimentary fidgets and earplugs available at the performance.

Q. Can we leave the theatre during the show? If we decide to come back, can we return to our seat?
A. Yes, you are welcome to leave your seat at any time you want. Goodspeed staff will be available to direct you wherever you need to go. Please look for people in orange shirts and feel free to ask questions. These folks will be glad to help you return to your seat whenever you wish.

Q. Can I listen to the music in advance?
A. Yes, the music from Oklahoma! is available on YouTube here. You can also watch the 1955 Oklahoma! movie on YouTube here. Clips from Goodspeed’s production will be available on this page in July. Because A Connecticut Christmas Carol is a brand new musical, we don’t have any music or clips available yet. Stay tuned as we get closer to December!

Q. How long is the performance?
A. Oklahoma! is approximately 2 and 45 minutes and it includes a 15-minute intermission.

Finally, here is a link to a youtube video produced by Goodspeed that provides a visual step-by-step preview of the Goodspeed theater experience for those who came to see this special performance of Oklahoma!

https://youtu.be/Ren2tnrh-6A

Speaking on behalf of the Franklin Academy community, I must say that we are developing a very rich and stimulating relationship with our friends at Goodspeed Musicals, and we feel very lucky to have easy access to such incredible theatrical talent that is equivalent to what one would experience on Broadway.

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