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GoodSpeed Musicals

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Sensory-Friendly Performance

Sensory-Friendly Performance


Everyone should get the chance to enjoy live theatre.

Our sensory-friendly performance of Bye Bye Birdie in 2016 was such a huge success that we've decided to expand in 2017! We will be offering special sensory-friendly performances for both Oklahoma! and A Connecticut Christmas Carol. These family-friendly performances are designed and intended for those who are on the autism spectrum or who have other sensory issues. At these performances, the theatre environment will be altered, providing a safe, friendly, comfortable and judgment-free zone that is welcoming for all. These performances are recommended for those families and caregivers who are familiar with and accepting of behaviors exhibited by some individuals with autism—and would like to bring a loved one to the theatre.

For questions regarding these special performances, contact Kate Micari: 860.873.8664 x316 or

Sunday, Sept 24, 2:00pm


WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The Rodgers & Hammerstein classic that changed American musicals forever dawns at Goodspeed for the very first time. Cowboy Curly and farm girl Laurey are taking their sweet time falling in love. Can these stubborn romantics admit their feelings before it’s too late? Passion, laughter and high-kicking choreography blossom in a land where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain. A legendary score—including “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top” and the rousing title tune—will put you in a brand new state!

Sunday, Dec 10, 2:00pm


WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Some of the most beloved storytellers in Connecticut history come alive for a yuletide gathering you won’t forget. Famed actor and local legend William Gillette leaves his castle on the Connecticut River to adapt Dickens’ holiday classic in the 1920s. Local heroes Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe and P.T. Barnum make spirited appearances opposite Gillette’s Scrooge in a highly theatrical twist on a family favorite. Custom-made for Goodspeed with all-original music, here’s a tuneful, heartfelt confection spiced with enough Nutmeg State flavor to sweeten your season.

Here’s what you can expect at a sensory-friendly performance:

  • Pre-show resources such as a character guide, plot synopsis, photos and video from the Goodspeed production, FAQs, and a “coming to the theatre” video
  • Modifications to sound and lighting levels
  • Accepting and inclusive environment
  • Chill-out area for people who need a break


  • All tickets for the sensory-friendly performances are $12.
  • Tickets are not yet on sale. To be notified when they go on sale, please contact Kate Micari at 860.873.8664 x316 or




SOCIAL STORY: Coming to the Theatre

SOCIAL STORY BOOKLET  (printable version)



Families are encouraged to view the 1963 movie of Bye Bye Birdie with Ann-Margret, Janet Leigh, Maureen Stapleton and Dick Van Dyke or the 1995 TV movie with Jason Alexander, Vanessa Williams, George Wendt, and Tyne Daley prior to September 3.

MALCOLM'S GOODSPEED DOCUMENTARY Malcolm is a student at Franklin Academy in East Haddam. He has spent a lot of time at Goodspeed both with his family and as a student at Franklin Academy as part of a partnership between Goodspeed and Franklin. Last semester, Malcolm made a documentary about Goodspeed for his video class project. Thanks Malcolm. Enjoy!


Q. What is an autism-friendly performance?
A. An autism-friendly performance is a live theatre production for people with a variety of sensory input disorders. Our autism-friendly performance will be accessible to people on the autism spectrum, anxiety, or other cognitive disabilities. Goodspeed staff and performers have carefully modified the performance with this audience in mind. For example, audience members can freely leave their seats as needed during the performance, house lights will remain somewhat illuminated, sound levels will be lowered, the use of flashing lights will be reduced, and special educational materials will be made available to patrons prior to the performance. Goodspeed will make numerous other subtle modifications to the regular theatre experience to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible during the performance. There will be several safe spaces for audience members to leave the show and relax as needed. Additionally, trained Goodspeed staff and volunteers will be present to accommodate the needs of this specific population. There is no expectation that the audience will be quiet during the performance. It will be a completely judgment-free zone!    

Q. When and where is the show taking place?
A. The show will take place at The Goodspeed in East Haddam, CT at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 3, 2016.

Q. How can I purchase tickets?
A. All tickets for this special performance are $12 each. To purchase tickets, please call Kate Micari at 860.873.8664 x316 or email

Q. Who should attend this performance?
A. This performance caters to people of all ages with sensory input disorders, their families and caretakers. If it is difficult or impossible for an individual to attend live performance because of their sensory challenges, this is an excellent opportunity to experience the magic of live musical theatre in a friendly, judgment-free environment.  Goodspeed strives to provide a carefree and fun experience for everyone involved. We are prepared for loud reactions to the show from this audience. We also understand that some audience members will need to leave or move around the space during the show. This is perfectly fine! All children must be accompanied by an adult while in the theatre. Again, we encourage caretakers and family members of people with special needs to attend.

Q.  Can people without autism or cognitive disabilities attend this performance?
A. We encourage caretakers and family members of people with sensory input disorders to attend. The production will be changed to fit their needs and the environment will be quite different. The lights will be raised during the performance to allow audience members to move about freely. We expect audience members to be vocal during the performance. Regular Goodspeed patrons are strongly encouraged to book into other performances so we can keep seats available for this special population and their families.    

Q. What changes will you be making to the production and script?
A. The script will not be altered.

Q.  Is there anything I can do to help someone with sensory input disorders prepare for this new experience?
A. Goodspeed features a video social story on our website to help people with sensory input disorders prepare to see the show. We also have a plot synopsis and downloadable written social story available to attendees. Additionally, we can arrange tours of the theatre before you come to the performance. If you are interested in a tour, please contact Kate Micari at 860.873.8664 x316. There will be a “meet your seat” experience at 2PM on September 3, an hour before the performance beings.  Attendees are welcome to come early to see their seat, view the set on stage, and meet our friendly staff. 

Q. Can someone in a wheelchair attend?
A. Yes, there is elevator access to the orchestra level. Please inform the box office of any mobility issues.

Q. Can attendees bring fidget toys, edibles, electronic devices such as headphones, or other objects to calm their nerves?
A. Yes, attendees are encouraged to bring fidget toys and edibles, but we ask that all electronic devices including phones and tablets be turned off during the performance. We will have fidgets available at the performance.

Q. Can we leave the theatre during the show? If we decide to come back, can we return to our seat?
A. Yes, you are welcome to leave your seat at any time you want. Goodspeed staff will be available to direct you wherever you need to go. Please look for people in the blue shirts and feel free to ask questions. These folks will be glad to help you return to your seat whenever you wish.

Q. Can I listen to the music with my child in advance?
A. Yes, the music will be available on the Goodspeed website as will clips of Bye Bye Birdie, the movie at

Q. How long is the performance?
A. The performance is approximately 2 and ½ hours and it includes a 15-minute intermission.

Q. Why are you offering autism friendly performances and how did it start?
A. Goodspeed Musicals partnered with Franklin Academy to develop our autism-friendly performances and that partnership is still growing! Franklin Academy is a community-focused boarding and day school in East Haddam where students with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Asperger’s Syndrome learn and master competencies that will enable them to be successful in college and beyond. Franklin Academy students worked with Goodspeed staff to plan the autism-friendly performance experience and to prepare the educational resources. Some of these Franklin Academy students will be the theatre on the day of the performance to greet you and help you find your seats. Goodspeed’s Executive Director Michael Gennaro oversaw the creation of an array of educational programs and autism-friendly performances at Trinity Rep., his former theatre. Gennaro is excited to offer autism-friendly performances on The Goodspeed stage and he hopes to offer additional autism-friendly performances and educational opportunities for special populations in the future. 

Q. How can I help spread the word?

Q. Who should I contact if I have questions about the autism-friendly performance?
A. Please contact Kate Micari at 860.873.8664 x316 or email her at


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