Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre welcomes families with children on the autism spectrum or other sensory challenges to its first-ever SENSORY SENSITIVE PERFORMANCE of Freckleface Strawberry - The Musical.
Based on the beloved book by celebrated and award-winning actress Julianne Moore, Freckleface, nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award for outstanding new Off-Broadway musical, steps inside the book's pages with Freckleface and her friends as they confront bullying and learn to love the skin they're in. The Downtown Cabaret Theatre is the first professional performing arts organization in the State of Connecticut to offer a Sensory Sensitive Performance of one of its own productions.
Bridgeport, Connecticut's Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre, a not-for-profit performing arts service organization, will initiate its Sensory Sensitive Sunday of the new family musical stage production of Freckleface Strawberry on Sunday, March 3 at 5:30pm. This exclusive performance welcomes all families with children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues. It is a special pilot project designed to not only create a positive live theater experience for those in attendance, but also to determine how best to offer additional sensory sensitive performances of upcoming productions.
According to government estimates, 1 in 88 U.S. children are born with autism or one of its variations, such as Asperger's, PDD, and Fragile X. While some children are high functioning, intellectually, others need additional assistance.
Downtown Cabaret Theatre is consulting with Dr. Christine Peck, School Psychologist; Autism and Behavioral Specialist with Cooperative Educational Services, who states "This is a unique opportunity for the families of children with autism spectrum disorders. The compassion of the Downtown Cabaret Theatre to reach out to these families, learn from them, and create an event that embraces the uniqueness of these children is commendable. Many of the families I support have been searching for opportunities like this, and, to my knowledge, there has never been anything like this in Connecticut, until now."
For young people with autism and their families, attending a live stage performance can be all but impossible. Sensory Sensitive performances encourage attendees to be themselves. Downtown Cabaret Children's Theatre and Broadway Theatres are beginning to understand the feelings of isolation and frustration that families with autism face on a daily basis. Select theatres are striving to provide these families with greater opportunities to take part in enjoyable and valued community activities presented in a calming, supportive atmosphere.
Broadway productions of The Lion King and Mary Poppins as well as productions at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, recently offered Sensory Sensitive performances.
Downtown Cabaret Theatre joins the ranks of these cutting edge theatres offering Sensory Sensitive performances for their audiences. These theatrical experiences have been overwhelmingly applauded by audiences expressing "It is an amazing opportunity to bring our families here and enjoy the show, not be stressed, to relax and know that everyone in the theater is in our situation," said one parent sitting with her 11-year-old daughter (The New York Times).
To make the occasion more accessible to children and adults on the autism spectrum, the Downtown Cabaret Theater environment will be altered. Theater lights will remain on at a low level during the performance, sound amplification will be lowered and remain constant without abrupt jarring sounds. Children will be free to talk and leave their seats under parental supervision and there will be a reduction of strobe lighting that might be focused on the audience. There will be designated quiet areas within the theater; the performance will be approximately one hour in length without an intermission; audience members will have an opportunity to meet and greet the cast for photos and questions, if they choose.
In addition, families will also have access to a resource packet to prepare for their visit. This information can be downloaded from the Announcement section of the theatre's website: downwtowncabaret.org.
According to Hugh Hallinan, Downtown Cabaret Theatre Executive Producer "Our performance on Sensory Sensitive Sunday will introduce the world of live theatre to special needs children on the autism spectrum and will allow families to experience theatre together in a supportive ambiance with no judgments. We want each member of the audience to enjoy the theatrical experience of Freckleface Strawberry - The Musical and to be assured that everyone involved with the production...the cast, production crew and theatre staff-is doing all they can to make the show a stress-free and unforgettable."
Sensory Sensitive performances can be a godsend for families usually excluded from stage performances. Live theater with its intense environment and expensive ticket prices is prohibitive for most families who have children who may not be able to stay for the entire performance because they get scared, agitated, or simply express their enjoyment in ways that are not accepted by the majority of the other theater-going public. However, these performances can be magical for individuals with autism who often become totally involved in the entertainment.
Tickets for the Sensory Sensitive Performance of Freckleface Strawberry - The Musical on Sunday, March 3 at 5:30pm are $15.
Other than the Sensory Sensitive performance of Freckle Face Strawberry - The Musical, performances for the general public are scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays opening February 23 and continuing through March 30 (2013). Tickets for these performances are $18-$24.
Tickets may be ordered by phone at 203.576.1636, in person at the Box Office, located at 263 Golden Hill Street, Bridgeport, Conn., online at downtowncabaret.org (24/7) or by US Mail:
Freckleface Strawberry - The Musical
c/o Downtown Cabaret Children'sTheatre
263 Golden Hill Street
Bridgeport, Ct. 06604
Box Office Hours: 10:30am to 5pm - Mondays-Fridays. On performance days - Box Office opens 90 minutes prior to scheduled performance times. Theatre seating begins 30 minutes prior to performance times.