TDF’s Autism Theater Initiative (ATI) announces that tickets to the first-ever autism-friendly performance of the Broadway smash musical, SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark will go on sale at 12:01am on Thursday, February 7. The performance will take place during Autism Awareness Month on Saturday, April 27 at 2pm at the Foxwoods Theatre (213 W 42nd Street, New York, NY). Tickets may only be purchased through TDF at: www.tdf.org/spiderman. Ticket prices for this special autism-friendly performance are $80 for orchestra and dress circle; $48 for balcony and $35 for balcony boxes.
This performance, presented through TDF’s Accessibility Programs (TAP), illustrates TDF’s commitment to continue to present autism-friendly performances in New York City. Additionally, TDF has also been consulting with other theatre organizations across the United States who would like to present their own autism-friendly performances.
“We’re thrilled to be able to make this show available to the community of families with children and adults on the autism spectrum,” said Lisa Carling, TDF’s Director of Accessibility Programs (TAP). “After our first autism-friendly shows we surveyed the families and asked which shows they would most like to bring their children to and SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark was at the top of the list. We’re grateful to the show’s producers, management and creative staff and crew for accommodating the Autism Theatre Initiative and uniting with us to make the show an unforgettable experience for all.”
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to share our production with those affected by autism,” said SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris. “Part of our mission is to serve our community, and we are grateful to TDF for partnering with us on this initiative.”
“When we piloted this program we had a sense that there was a large audience of families in need of this service,” said Victoria Bailey, TDF’s Executive Director. “After the first performance it was clear that our presumption was true. Watching families experience live theatre together for the first time in an environment that was safe and supportive is a truly emotional and gratifying experience. We could never do this without the cooperation of everyone involved in the productions from the producers to the ushers.”
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 reduction of any jarring sounds or strobe lights. In the theatre lobby area there are designated quiet and activity areas, staffed with autism experts, 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 the recent Mary Poppins performance from TDF Stages: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrb-opIcMWw.
Theatre Development Fund (TDF), the not-for-profit performing arts service organization whose mission includes making theatre accessible for all audiences, first piloted this program 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 The Lion King on October 2, 2011. That sold-out performance and subsequent autism-friendly performances of Mary Poppins, a second performance of The Lion King in 2012 and of ELF: The Musical have proven to be successful in opening up the world of live theatre to this underserved community. To ensure that TDF will meet the needs of this audience, TDF works with an advisory panel of experts in the field of autism. The panel has provided TDF with expertise and counsel throughout the development and implementation of this program.
For these 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. Tickets to Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark will go on-sale at 12:01am on Thursday, February 7 only at www.tdf.org/spiderman. On-sale dates for tickets to future autism- friendly performances of Disney’s The Lion King and Newsies will be announced in a few months. 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.
SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark features music and lyrics by 22-time Grammy® Award-winners Bono and The Edge, direction by Philip William McKinley (The Boy From Oz), and a book co-written by Julie Taymor, Glen Berger (Underneath The Lintel) and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Fantastic Four and Spider-Man comics, “Big Love”). Scenic Designer George Tsypin and Costume Designer Eiko Ishioka are winners of Outer Critics Circle Awards and were nominated for Tony® Awards for their work on SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark.
The world’s most recognizable Super Hero leaps off the comic book pages and onto the Broadway stage in SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark. Peter Parker’s ordinary teenage life takes a turn for the extraordinary when he’s bitten by a genetically altered spider and suddenly finds himself endowed with incredible superpowers. Parker quickly learns that with great power comes great responsibility as he tries to juggle the demands of high school and home life, while battling the Green Goblin and his band of super villains as they try to take down New York City and destroy everything Peter holds dear – including the beautiful girl-next-door, Mary Jane Watson. This high-flying groundbreaking and history-making production brings this story – inspired by more than fifty years of Marvel comic books – thrillingly to life!
TDF Accessibility Programs (TAP) was established in 1979 to provide access to the performing arts for people with physical disabilities. TAP serves theatregoers with mild to profound hearing loss with regularly scheduled open captioned and American Sign Language interpreted performances of Broadway and Off Broadway shows; theatregoers who are partially sighted or blind with special audio described performances; people who for medical reasons cannot climb stairs; and, people who require aisle seating or use wheelchairs.
Through TAP, TDF offers discount orchestra tickets that are chosen with the customer’s specific seating needs in mind. TAP made Broadway history when it presented the first sign interpreted performance of a Broadway show with The Elephant Man in 1980. TAP again made Broadway history in 1997 with the first open captioned performance of a Broadway show, Barrymore, thus opening up theatre to an entire population of deaf and hard of hearing individuals who are unable to utilize American Sign Language or receive only partial help from assistive listening devices. This is the third season that TAP has added audio described performances to its services for theatregoers who are blind or have low vision. TAP's Access for Young Audiences Program make theatre accessible to students with mild to severe hearing loss with simultaneously open captioned and sign language interpreted performances, as well as audio described performances for students who are blind or have low vision. TAP launched the Autism Theatre Initiative in 2011 which presents sensory-friendly performances for families with children on the autism spectrum. For more information on TAP’s services, go to www.tdf.org/tap.
Theatre Development Fund (TDF) was created in the conviction that the live theatrical arts afford a unique expression of the human condition that must be sustained and nurtured. It is dedicated to developing diverse audiences for live theatre and dance and strengthening the performing arts community in New York City. Since being founded in 1968, it has become the largest nonprofit performing arts service organization in the United States, returning over $150 million annually to hundreds of productions through a variety of programs. TDF’s programs have provided over 83 million people with access to performances at affordable prices. Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths (now in its 40th year of service), TDF’s membership, outreach, access and education programs — as well as its Costume Collection — help to make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone. Recent TDF honors include a 2011 Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture, a 2012 Tony Honor for Excellence for its Open Doors Arts Education Program and a 2012 New York Innovative Theatre Award for its support of the off-Off Broadway community. For more information about TDF, go to: www.tdf.org.
TDF wishes to acknowledge the following donors for their generous support of the Autism Theatre Initiative:
7th District Foundation
Bank of America Charitable Gift Fund - General Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee
Helene Berger Foundation
Bulova Stetson Fund
The FAR Fund
Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism
The Flom Family Foundation
Bellanca S. Rutter
The Joseph LeRoy and Ann C. Warner Fund, Inc.
The Schafer Family Foundation*
Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Foundation
*Donation made in honor of Charles T. Locke III and Ronald J. Weiss