Current VPA News
The Wizard of Oz The Wizard of Oz

Joanna Penalva

Syracuse Stage and the Department of Drama in the College of Visual and Performing Arts will host a sensory-friendly performance of “The Wizard of Oz” on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, at 3 p.m. Welcoming to individuals with sensory, social and learning disabilities and their families, the performance will have special accommodations that create a more relaxed theater experience without losing the magic of a live performance.

All tickets are $25 and include a 100 percent refund right up to the start of the show. Tickets are available beginning Aug. 28 and can be purchased in person, by phone at 315-443-3275 or online.

In January 2017, Syracuse Stage and the Department of Drama held the first sensory friendly performance in Central New York with “Mary Poppins”. In a post-show survey, 95 percent of responders said they would attend a future sensory friendly experience in the Syracuse area and expressed joy for the chance to do something together as a family.

“We were so thankful for the sensory friendly performance of ‘Mary Poppins.’ Thank you so much,” said Emily Blair, who attended the performance in January. “It gave my family a wonderful experience we otherwise may not have been able to have.”

“We went to the sensory friendly performance of ‘Mary Poppins’...and it was amazing,” said Amie Eisnor Estrella, who saw the show with her family. “I always thought my son would love musicals, given the right atmosphere. He was mesmerized...I hope you do this many more times!”

Syracuse Stage and the Department of Drama hope this and other adaptations provide parents with an opportunity for the whole family to enjoy live theater without having to worry about abiding by traditional theater rules or disturbing other patrons. 

“After seeing how successful our sensory friendly performance of ‘Mary Poppins’ was, we knew it would be important to welcome families who may not be comfortable attending a regular performance back this season,” said Bob Hupp, artistic director. “The joy and communal experience of live theater is something that we want everyone, no matter any sensory sensitivities, to be able to enjoy.” 

Special accommodations in the sensory friendly performance of “The Wizard of Oz” include:

  • Lower sound levels, especially for loud of startling noises
  • Reduced stage lighting
  • Increased lighting in theatre to allow easier movement if necessary
  • Preparatory materials provided to parents and children before the show so families know what to expect, from the box office to the seats to what costumes may be seen
  • Use of iPads or smart phones if being used as a child’s communication device
  • Designated rooms outside the theatre for those who may be overwhelmed and need a minute to self-regulate
  • Specially trained ushers, staff and volunteer

Based on the 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum and the 1939 film, the much-loved musical “The Wizard of Oz” remains a popular production across the United States and the United Kingdom. Donna Drake directs with choreography by 2 Ring Circus and musical direction by Brian Cimmet. The production runs Nov. 29, 2017 to Jan. 7, 2018.

“While the great songs and beloved characters are the same, the experience is entirely new. This is one you and your family will be talking about long after Dorothy clicks her heels and makes her way back to Kansas,” Hupp said.

For more information on the sensory friendly performance, contact Kate Laissle, assistant director of education, Syracuse Stage, at 315-442-7755 or kmlaissl@syr.edu.