When teacher Rachael Grossman brings her special-needs students to events, she often finds it “incredibly stressful,” she says.
“I worry about how my students will behave, and I work to manage their behaviors the whole time,” explains Grossman, who teaches at Robert Lunt Elementary in Las Vegas. “Often they do not understand (the event), or are overwhelmed by the environment.”
This was not the case, however, when The Smith Center arranged a sensory-friendly performance this spring at her school.
The performance was customized for her special-needs students — including providing a judgment-free environment.
That way, her students could freely engage in behaviors, instead of feeling pressured to stay silent.
“I think it made my students feel special,” Grossman says. “This definitely felt tailored to my students.”
The Smith Center hears an increasing number of these stories, with its ongoing presentations of sensory-friendly performances.
Designed to accommodate audiences with autism spectrum disorders and other intellectual or developmental disabilities, sensory-friendly performances offer a welcoming theater experience for all.
That’s why — with the ongoing aim of making live theater accessible for all community members — The Smith Center will present a sensory-friendly performance of Broadway hit “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 30.
This marks The Smith Center’s second sensory-friendly presentation of a Broadway production.
The Smith Center team hopes the performance offers a joyful opportunity for families to make holiday memories together, says Melanie Jupp, senior program manager.
“The holidays serve as an important time for loved ones to enjoy quality time together, and we hope this performance will give families of all needs that opportunity,” Jupp says. “We’re thrilled to present a special seasonal performance that welcomes all theatergoers.”
Since presenting its first sensory-friendly performances in spring 2018, The Smith Center continues to significantly expand this program.
This includes presenting its first sensory-friendly performance of a Broadway production in November 2018, Disney’s “The Lion King,” attended by over 1,000 families.
This year, The Smith Center has offered whimsical sensory-friendly performances, including a successful, sensory-friendly presentation of family show “The Phantom Tollbooth,” adapted from the classic children’s novel.
The Smith Center also presented two sensory-friendly magic shows with illusionist Kevin Spencer for nearly 300 people in its Troesh Studio Theater, plus in-school performances and on-site visits at Opportunity Village, a nonprofit providing supportive services for individuals with disabilities.
“The audience members absolutely loved his performance,” says Sarah Quinn, manager of fine and performing arts at Opportunity Village. “They were kept smiling and laughing through the entirety of the show.”
Audience members will have full support to embrace the festive spirit, during the sensory-friendly performance of “The Grinch.”
Offering an inclusive and accommodating theater environment, this performance will provide specially trained ushers to assist as needed.
As with prior sensory-friendly performances in The Smith Center’s theaters, this will feature a reduction of jarring noises and startling special effects.
The Smith Center will give audience members comprehensive, pre-visit guides, and will offer designated quiet areas for audience members to take a break from the show.
Audience members will also be free to enter and exit as needed, with guests allowed to use mobile devices for communication purposes.
Grossman lauds how sensory-friendly performances give community members with special needs the chance to experience live performances in a safe, supportive environment.
“Individuals with special needs should have the same opportunity to develop a love of the theater,” she says.
The Smith Center will present a sensory-friendly performance of Broadway musical “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 30 - for tickets, CLICK HERE.
This sensory friendly performance is made possible through a major gift from Windsong Trust, Ameriprise Financial and other generous Smith Center donors.
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