Press & Media
Announcing the first-ever Autism Friendly Performances of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes® in New York City (November 19, 2023) and Broadway's MJ: The Musical (March 10, 2024). Broadway's The Lion King (October 1, 2023) and Aladdin (May 5, 2024) round out the season.
New York, NY – September 26, 2023 – TDF, the not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, is proud to present its 12th season of Autism Friendly Performances (AFP) for individuals on the autism spectrum or with other developmental or cognitive disabilities. The season begins on Sunday, October 1 at 1 p.m. with The Lion King at the Minskoff Theatre. It continues with two firsts: the first-ever autism-friendly performance of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes® in New York City on Sunday, November 19 at 9 a.m. at Radio City Music Hall, and the first-ever autism-friendly performance of the Broadway smash MJ: the Musical on Sunday, March 10, 2024 at 1 p.m. at the Neil Simon Theatre. The AFP season concludes with Disney’s Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theatre on Sunday, May 5, 2024 at 1 p.m.
"At TDF our mission is to remove barriers to access for audiences of all backgrounds, ages and abilities," said Deeksha Gaur, TDF’s Executive Director. "That's because we believe that the performing arts are a right, not a privilege. What we see at our autism-friendly performances are audiences that love the theatre and love the arts but are not always invited to participate. That's where TDF comes in. We facilitate the process so audiences can see shows on their own terms, and so families can have these transformative experiences
“We’re looking forward to an exciting season of Autism Friendly Performances,” said Lisa Carling, Director of TDF Accessibility Programs. “It’s heartening to see that demand for these performances has grown each year since we launched the program in 2011. As is our tradition, we open with a performance of The Lion King, making this the 12th year we’ve worked with the wonderful team at Disney on Broadway. We have wanted to expand AFP to dance for a while. Thanks to Madison Square Garden Entertainment and the team at Radio City Music Hall, we will present the inaugural autism-friendly performance of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes® at Radio City Music Hall, providing a memorable holiday experience for our audience.” The season continues in 2024 with the first-ever autism-friendly performance of MJ: the Musical on Broadway and the ever-popular Disney musical Aladdin.
AFP tickets typically go on sale six to eight weeks before a performance and are accessed through TDF’s website. Tickets to this weekend’s performance of The Lion King are already sold out, but you can sign up for the AFP email list to be notified of on-sale dates for the rest of the season.
Tickets to the first-ever autism-friendly performance of the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes® go on sale tomorrow, September 27 at noon (EDT) at www.tdf.org/rockettes.
TDF AUTISM FRIENDLY PERFORMANCES launched in 2011 with The Lion King on Broadway. Since then, there have been AFP of Aladdin, Cats, Come From Away, Elf: The Musical, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Kinky Boots, Mary Poppins, Matilda The Musical, My Fair Lady, New York City Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, SIX, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The King and I, The Phantom of the Opera and Wicked.
The program operates under the umbrella of TDF Accessibility Programs. To create an autism-friendly setting, the shows are performed in a supportive environment for individuals diagnosed with autism or other developmental or cognitive disabilities and their families. Slight adjustments are made to the productions where possible, including the reduction of jarring sounds and strobe lights focused into the audience. In the theatre lobby, there are staffed break areas in case audience members need to leave their seats during the performance. For AFP, TDF purchases every seat in the theatre and makes the tickets available at discount prices exclusively to families, groups, schools, etc. whose members include individuals on the autism spectrum. Learn more about TDF Autism Friendly Performances and sign up to receive emails about future events at www.tdf.org/autism.
ABOUT TDF ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAMS: TDF Accessibility Programs make theatregoing possible for people with physical disabilities as well as individuals on the autism spectrum. The full range of services includes Autism Friendly Performances of Broadway productions; accessible seating for individuals with mobility disabilities; and open captioned, American Sign Language-interpreted and audio described performances of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows for theatregoers who are hard of hearing or Deaf, are blind or have low vision. TDF has also trained theatres in the US and abroad in setting up open captioning programs and autism-friendly shows and offers an educational enrichment program for students who are hard of hearing, Deaf, blind or have low vision. TDF collaborated with The Broadway League to develop the website TheatreAccess.NYC, the official site for accessibility information for Broadway shows.
ABOUT TDF: Founded in 1968, TDF (formerly known as Theatre Development Fund) is a not-for-profit service organization dedicated to bringing the power of the performing arts to everyone. TDF’s mission is to sustain live theatre and dance by engaging a broad and diverse audience and eliminating barriers to attendance. We fulfill our mission with a variety of programs that expand access, cultivate communities and support the makers of the performing arts.
We are known for our theatregoing programs, including the TKTS by TDF Discount Booths (which recently celebrated 50 years in Times Square) and the TDF Membership program; Accessibility programs (including open captioning, audio description, Autism Friendly Performances and the Veterans Theatregoing Program); School programs (serving more than 10,000 New York City students annually) and Community programs (serving 18,000 people in the tristate area); as well as the TDF Costume Collection Rental and Research Programs. TDF envisions a world where the transformative experience of attending live theatre and dance is essential, relevant, accessible and inspirational. To learn more about TDF, go to
tdf.org; Facebook/Instagram/X: @tdfnyc.
TDF wishes to acknowledge the following donors for their generous support of TDF
Autism Friendly Performances:
Anonymous, Darlene and Stuart Altschuler, Theodore H. Barth Foundation, Harry S. Black & Allon Fuller Fund, Bradley Butwin, The FAR Fund, The Joseph H. Flom Foundation, Eric Grossman, Howard Gilman Foundation, O'Melveny, Jonathan Rosenberg, Seventh District Foundation, The Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Taft Foundation, and Ronald and Catherine Weiss in honor of Joseph Flom.
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction. This program is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.