To the People Behind This Sensory-Friendly Performance of ‘Wicked’
Earlier today my family — I mean my entire family — watched a Broadway show together.
No real marvel for most families, but for our family this is a huge deal!
Lyla, my daughter, is a belter. Broadway musicals speak to her soul. But due to timing, cost, performance intensity, and having a brother with autism who is sound averse, seeing musicals as a family is a rarity. The exception is when Theatre Development Fund (TDF) sponsors sensory-friendly programs. Then we prepare our computers, brace ourselves, refresh a thousand times and pray we will get seats, because then we know, though the cost is huge, it is meaningful time spent together as a family. It connects our children, allows them to feel important, valued and to see other families with brothers or sisters with autism. It fosters respect of differences and values, and also a community of loving and affectionate families, all there with the same purpose: to enjoy a Broadway show together. It is also important to help our son with autism improve his ability to navigate atypical situations.
We have scored tickets to three of these events. Our first production was the Lion King, the second production was Matilda and this, our third, was “Wicked.”
Each time we gather at one of these events, seats are taken, people are given squeeze-stars, headphones are offered, fidgets are tossed about and given to everyone interested, and people are wonderful. Screaming is not shushed, standing during a performance is not unheard of, people run in and run out for sensory breaks, and during this performance the beautiful mom sitting in front of us said: “It’s okay for your boy to push on the seat back. I get it.”
I get it. That is the feeling that buzzes in the air, carries into our hearts and makes me cry, every time.
This time it was so much more. I did not only feel it from the parents and the beautiful TDF volunteers; it seemed to emanate from the actors themselves. It was truly magical.
My gratitude overwhelms me still. As I write I fight tears. This story and the actors’ performance in “Wicked” speaks to our children; it speaks to us as their parents. It talks about acceptance. But more, it talks about a theme I have spoken of in the past. “Wicked” is about how much people who seem different have to offer society, offer us in our lives. It is a theme that has echoed through my entire existence. It is a theme of acceptance and love, a reminder to learn from and find the good within, to change what you think is impossible and to be more.
What is my point? We are so grateful to the creators of this story, and for the incredible actors who seemed to truly embrace this beautiful audience and find even greater inspiration to be bigger and better for this show.
To all the citizens of Emerald City, you were brilliant! You changed lives, inspired so much good, so much love and showed tremendous generosity.
Your curtain call brought us to tears. Holding those stars in your hands, you showed something so important: You demonstrated solidarity, connection, an unequivocal depth of compassion, love and acceptance.
There are no more words. I cannot express the depth of my gratitude. Thank you for this unique, wonderful, inspiring experience. May others learn from your generosity of spirit!
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