TDF’s Autism Theater Initiative (ATI) announces that tickets are currently on sale for the first ever autism-friendly performance of Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure, on Saturday, April 19 at 11am at the Theater at Madison Square Garden (Seventh Avenue and 32nd Street, New York, NY). Tickets for this performance, which runs 90 minutes long with one 15 minute intermission, range from $32 to $69 each and are currently on sale exclusively at www.tdf.org/disneyjrliveontour.
With this April 19th performance of Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure, which takes place during Autism Awareness Month, TDF hopes to broaden the audience of families with children on the autism spectrum, as this show generally appeals to a younger audience than the Broadway shows ATI has thus far presented.
The Theater at Madison Square Garden is a large venue of about 5,000 seats, but even though TDF purchased the entire theatre for this autism-friendly performance, only 2,000 seats will be filled in order to help make the show feel as welcoming as possible.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Feld Entertainment to be able to present our first autism-friendly show that is appropriate for younger children as well as their older siblings. It will also be great for families that prefer a shorter show than a traditional Broadway musical,” said Victoria Bailey, TDF’s Executive Director. “As with all of our TDF programs it is important that the widest spectrum of the community have access to tickets. We are gratified that we have received generous funding from The Joseph LeRoy and Ann C. Warner Fund, Inc., among other donors that allows us to distribute several hundred tickets, at no cost, to organizations that help low-income families with children and adults on the spectrum.”
“Feld Entertainment is pleased to collaborate with Theatre Development Fund to entertain children and adults on the autism spectrum with a one-of-a-kind live experience featuring beloved Disney characters that is both enjoyable and welcoming for all,” said Alana Feld, Executive Vice President, Feld Entertainment.
“With the feedback we get from the audiences, specialists working in the autism field, performers and theatre staff, we are constantly learning new ways to fine-tune the program,” said Lisa Carling, TDF’s Director of Accessibility Programs (TAP). “Our goal with the Autism Theatre Initiative remains to be as inclusive as possible, welcoming families with children and adults on the autism spectrum, including Asperger’s syndrome, as well as other developmental disabilities, to enjoy the theatrical experience and to be assured that everyone involved with the production is united in making the show an unforgettable experience.”
This performance, as well as this season’s autism-friendly Broadway performances of Disney’s The Lion King, SPIDER-MAN Turn Off the Dark and an upcoming sold-out performance of Wicked on March 2, illustrates TDF’s commitment to presenting autism-friendly performances in New York City. TDF has also been consulting with other theatre organizations across the United States, to help them present their own autism-friendly performances.
In order to be “autism-friendly,” the shows are performed in a friendly, supportive environment for an audience of families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues. Slight adjustments to the productions include the elimination of strobe lights and the reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe lights focused into the audience. In the theatre lobby area there are designated quiet and activity areas, staffed with autism specialists and trained volunteers, if anyone needs to leave their seats during the performance. To get a clearer idea of what an autism-friendly performance is, here is a link to a feature on a performance of Mary Poppins from TDF Stages: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrb-opIcMWw.
For autism-friendly performances, TDF purchases every seat in the theatre for sale at discount prices to families whose members include individuals on the autism spectrum. Tickets to these special performances are sold only through TDF’s website. TDF recommends that interested patrons sign up at www.tdf.org/autism to be notified when the future performances go on sale, as well as to be notified about the scheduling of future autism-friendly performances.
DISNEY JUNIOR LIVE ON TOUR! PIRATE AND PRINCESS ADVENTURE
Grab your tiaras and doubloons and join us for Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure. Mickey and Minnie are taking their seats too at this never-before-seen live show featuring your favorite characters from Disney Junior's hit series, Sofia the First and Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Get swept up in the excitement as Sofia and her family prepare for a royal celebration that helps us all learn the true meaning of being a princess with a special appearance from Cinderella. Then it's off to Never Land where Jake and his swashbuckling friends Izzy and Cubby, with a little help from Peter Pan, battle Captain Hook to unlock treasure hidden inside a mysterious volcano. It's danger and dueling on the high seas as Jake discovers what it takes to be a true hero. Filled with new music, amazing effects, thrilling action and endless surprises, your whole family will sing, shout, and soar into the action when Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure sails into New York City.
Special bonus! Starting ten minutes before every performance join loveable Doc McStuffins for a special pre-show! You can help Doc take care of one of her beloved toys with her own special brand of love and magic. Free to all ticket holders.
AUTISM THEATRE INITIATIVE (ATI), founded by Theatre Development Fund (TDF), the not-for-profit performing arts service organization whose mission includes making theatre accessible for all audiences, was originally piloted to make theatre accessible to children and adults on the autism spectrum, and their families, with the first-ever autism-friendly performance of a Broadway show at Disney’s landmark The Lion King on October 2, 2011. Working under the auspices of TDF’s Accessibility Programs (TAP), ATI has presented sold-out autism-friendly performances of Mary Poppins, two additional sold-out performance of The Lion King, ELF: The Musical, two performances of SPIDER-MAN Turn Off the Dark and an upcoming March 2 performance of Wicked. To ensure that TDF will meet the needs of this audience, TDF works with an advisory panel of specialists in the field of autism. These advisors have provided TDF with expertise and counsel throughout the development and implementation of this program. Since ATI’s original successes, TDF has consulted with theatres in Houston, San Diego, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston and London on how to present their own autism-friendly performances.
TDF ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAMS (TAP) is comprised of eight programs which make theatre going possible for young people and adults with physical disabilities, as well as individuals on the autism spectrum. It provides a full range of services, from autism-friendly performances of theatre productions; accessible seating for those with mobility issues; and open captioned, sign language interpreted and audio described performances of Broadway and Off Broadway shows for theatregoers with hearing and vision loss. TAP also trains theatres here and abroad on how to set up open captioning programs and autism-friendly shows, and offers an educational enrichment program for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or with low vision.
THEATRE DEVELOPMENT FUND is the only not-for-profit organization dedicated to serving the entire spectrum of the performing arts with programs that touch the lives of millions of New Yorkers and visitors each year. Created in 1968 by a dedicated group of theatre professionals, TDF has developed ground-breaking programs to encourage and support the production of new artistic works, ensure the availability of affordable tickets to millions of theatregoers each year, and to build audiences for the future. TDF’s diverse roster of programs includes the TKTS Discount Booths, TDF membership, TDF Accessibility Programs (TAP) for theatregoers with physical disabilities as well as individuals on the autism spectrum, audience development initiatives for underserved New York City audiences, and award-winning arts education programs. Since its founding, TDF has been responsible for over 86 million admissions to the performing arts. For more information about everything TDF does, please visit www.tdf.org.
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TDF wishes to acknowledge the following donors for their generous support of the Autism Theatre Initiative during the 2013-2014 season:
Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund
Helene Berger Foundation
Bulova Stetson Fund
The FAR Fund
The Flom Family Foundation
Laurence W. Levine Foundation
New York Collaborates for Autism with the proceeds from Comedy Central’s 2012 Night of Too Many Stars
Bellanca S. Rutter
Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Foundation
Seventh District Foundation
The Joseph LeRoy and Ann C. Warner Fund, Inc.
The Winter Family Fund