Note: Last year we ran a post about the first showing of The Lion King on Broadway - a special performance to invite people with autism to enjoy the theatre. A second show ran last week - and below is the POV of one of the actors from Broadway World.com. While seeking treatments and answers for autism - we have to live and enjoy life and allow our kids to experience the world around them. After all, it's a hard knock life for us." Oops, wrong show. ;) Thank you to The Lion King production.
Last fall, Theatre Development Fund (TDF) piloted the new program, Autism Theatre Initiative, as part of TDF’s Accessibility Programs (TAP), to make theatre accessible to children and adults on the autism spectrum, and their families. They presented the first-ever autism-friendly performance of a Broadway show at Disney’s landmark The Lion King on October 2, 2011 and followed that up with an autism-friendly performance of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins on April 29, 2012.
On September 30, the cast of The Lion King took part in another autism-friendly performance, and Rod Thomas, an actor in the show, wrote about the experience from his perspective. The full piece is as follows:
"The Lion King" is a remarkable show for so many different reasons, but I want to share a small footnote of its history with you.
I remember seeing "The Lion King" for the first time on Broadway in 1999 in the New Amsterdam Theater and being completely captivated. I remember seeing it in Des Moines, IA on the day I joined the National Tour in 2006. I've seen it countless times in cities across the country and beyond - from Honolulu, Hawaii where it was received with an incredible amount of love and joy to Mexico City in an arena so large they simulcast it on two large screens above the stage. It is amazing how much audiences still go wild for it every night almost 15 years later.
This past Sunday afternoon was much the same for the Broadway production. As I walked to the theater to sign-in, I was surrounded by folks headed to the theater to see the show. Mothers were pointing to their children as they turned the corner and first caught sight of the Minskoff Theater marquis with the iconic image of the sunburst mask greeting them. "There it is!" There was a buzz of excitement as families drew close to the theater.
There was a slightly different element at work today. There were volunteers orchestrating today's matinee inside and outside the theater. They held bags with large, soft squishy balls for some of the guests as they entered (fidget items). They set up areas on either side of the lobby - one marked as a "quiet zone" and another marked as an "activity zone." The volunteers stretched throughout the theater answering questions and directing families to and from their seats and assisting with any issues our guest might have had today.
Today was the second Autism Friendly Performance of "The Lion King." The Theater Development Fund, in association with Disney, bought out the entire house for this special event and sold those tickets as a part of a marketed Autism Friendly Performance. This matinee was reserved especially for them. The show sold out in under 24 hours.
Several changes were made to the show and to the theater to
facilitate this event. There were volunteers at the front of the house
with green glow lights that they would hold up to warn sensitive audience members
that a loud noise (or perhaps a round of applause) was about to happen
so that they might not be surprised and could cover their ears. No
strobe effects were used in the show. Most of the loudest audio effects
were taken out of the show completely. Read the full story at BroadwayWorld.com