A nonprofit organization in New York will put on two Broadway shows specially modified for families with autistic children. The shows include matinees of "Mary Poppins" on April 29, and "The Lion King" on September 30.
The Theatre Development Fund offered its first autism-friendly play, an altered version of "The Lion King," last October. Organizers say families who attended or heard about the show responded enthusiastically, asking for future productions.
Both shows, presented by Disney Theatrical Productions, will be slightly altered to make those with autism more comfortable, including cutting jarring sounds and strobe lights. Quiet areas with beanbag chairs and coloring books, staffed by autism experts, also will be created inside the theater for those who might feel overwhelmed.
To accommodate the special audience, experts identified several moments in "The Lion King" when the sound or lights needed to be toned down, but none was more than 30 percent softened. There were seven changes in all, including the volume adjusted down in the opening number, on steam blasts and on Mufasa's roar at the Elephant Graveyard. Actors walking in the aisles were kept, to the delight of the audience.
The Huffington Post reports that the Theatre Development Fund consults with other theaters that want to put on their own autism-friendly shows.
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