It has been announced that the West End production of Wicked will play its first ever Autism-Friendly performance on Saturday 14th May 2016 at 1:30pm.
The production is working closely with the National Autistic Society, the UK's leading charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families, to create a friendly and supportive environment in which to enjoy the show.
The specially adapted performance is suitable for people with autism, with trained staff on hand in dedicated quiet and activity areas should anyone need to leave their seats.
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of the National Autistic Society, said: “We were delighted to be offered the opportunity to work with the Apollo Victoria Theatre, the Ambassador Theatre Group and the producers of this hugely successful show. More than one in one hundred people have autism in the UK, and many of those affected by this lifelong condition are acutely sensitive to everyday sights and sounds, which other people are able to filter out, such as fluorescent lighting, background music or traffic noise.
"Autistic people and their families tell us that they would love to go to the theatre but because of sensory issues are prevented from doing so. Wicked’s production team have taken great care in adapting the show which means that for some of the audience on 14 May, this will be the very first time that they are able to experience the thrill of a live performance."
Wicked's UK Executive Producer Michael McCabe said: "We are greatly indebted to the National Autistic Society and to the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) for their support in arranging this dedicated Autism-Friendly performance. We’re delighted to be able to welcome fans of Wicked who wouldn’t normally be able to attend a standard performance and look forward to what promises to be an inspiring experience for us all."
People with autism can experience sensory overload so to deal with this there will be adjustments made to the sounds and lighting. People will be able to leave the auditorium as needed and there will be chill out spaces identified around the theatre. Theatre staff, cast and crew will have been given an insight into autism so they are more aware of the needs of this audience.
Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire which tells the untold story of the Witches of Oz, Wicked has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz with book by Winnie Holzman. Musical staging is by Wayne Cilento whilst the show is directed by Joe Mantello.
The current West End cast includes: Emma Hatton (Elphaba), Savannah Stevenson (Glinda), Oliver Savile (Fiyero), Tom McGowan (The Wizard), Liza Sadovy (Madame Morrible), Sean Kearns (Doctor Dillamond), Daniel Hope (Boq), Katie Rowley Jones (Nessarose), Natalie Andreou (Standby for Elphaba) and Carina Gillespie (Standby for Glinda).
Photo Credit: Matt Crockett